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Fifty Sense: Common Sense Ideas for Thriving after 50
Fifty Sense: Common Sense Ideas for Thriving after 50

Sue's Column Sense


There have been many changes in our lives since Covid began. One thing has remained for us, the need to get out in nature. We feel the only way to continue to be happy is the ability to change and have a sense of humor. We have camped almost every year in the Smokies for 50 years. We first did this because this is all we could afford with our family of five for Spring Break, and evolved into our favorite place to be. This year was the all time best there!

We have always wanted to stay overnight at Mt LeConte Lodge but could never figure out how to get a reservation. It used to be handed down from generation to generation. A few years ago, they opened it up to a reservation system that if you were organized, you could email or write a request to be opened on October 1st or be willing to call continually on October 1st. We both started calling at 8am and after 2 ½ hours, about 1500 redials, we got through and made a reservation for May 4.

As with most everything in our lives, we added a challenge of John needing shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff the end of January. They told us recovery was 6-12 months, but we only had 3 ½ months. Not to be deterred, he started intense PT and training. Did you know that your arm weighs enough to have pain from holding it up?

So, with a shoulder harness to hold up the area and one hiking stick, John was ready to tackle the hike. Of course, the trail we we going to take was closed just for two days because of paving the parking lot, so we had to choose a longer hike.it wasn’t pretty, but we made it to the lodge! With Covid, we couldn’t eat in the dining room, but the cabins were awesome, with a heater and kerosene lamp.

We wanted to see the sunrise and sunset, but found out it would add miles to our already exhausted bodies. So, although we didn’t do everything we wanted, the experience was a memory of a lifetime!

We had to wait two years before we could celebrate our fiftieth anniversary and chose to send it with our daughters and families in the Smokies for a week. What fun to watch our daughters share with their spouses and children their memories! All 14 of us agreed it was the absolute best way for us to celebrate. These trips were not what we originally planned, but we couldn’t be happier. We even saw three bear because we couldn’t find a trailhead!

I hope what you take away from reading this is to embrace Plan B in your lives. We have found that mast of the time, it can be just as good if not better than the original plan!

February 28, 2020

As I sit here enjoying a beautiful winter, snowy day in Michigan, I am reminded how much I like all seasons. At 71, I am still instructing downhill skiing, having as many as six hours of lessons in any day. People continually ask, how do you do it? You look and act so young! I’m here to tell you there is no magic potion. I have suffered all my adult life with fibromyalgia and migraines. I learned the only way to counteract this is to stay active. Many days, I don’t want to get out of bed, but I know if I get moving, my pain will lessen. I’m not saying I don’t have bad days, but I do know with activity, I have to take less pain meds.

My new family physician asked me what makes my fibromyalgia worse, and I was taken back. I never think about what makes it worse, but what makes it better. I ski at least four days a week, and once the days get warmer, try to hike at least that often. When time and opportunity allow, I still love backpacking. I have noticed I don’t ski as hard, becoming a recreational skier versus attacking the hill. I have also found easier hikes are more fun. I just don’t have the strength in my legs that I did ten years ago. That doesn’t mean I should stop, just adjust. I think too many people quit versus changing to a new pace or easier hill.

One advantage of being the oldest female ski instructor, or an old backpacker is people are impressed that I am still doing active sports. For the first time in my life, I am extraordinary by just doing something. Fear, False Evidence Appearing Real, is the biggest reason someone stops doing something they love. I hope that by reading about fun activities and doing something with knowledge inspires you do keep doing the activities you love, and you will try something new. My oldest student I taught downhill skiing was 84. She said she had always wanted to try it and she was running out of time. We had a ball!

Spring is just around the corner, so get outside and do something fun. Then, share the knowledge with your friends and on social media to inspire others to look and stay young! susan1684

Happy Trails

We just got back from two and a half weeks traveling with our camper, a wonderful time! We, at the age of 70, are beginning to realize that not every trip has to include miles of hiking. We spent time checking out Kentucky Horse Park, ZILPO in Daniel Boone National Forest, Bandy Creek Campground in Big South Fork Natural River and Recreation Area, Elkmont Campground in The Smokies, and Natural Bridge and Red River Gorge Area. Check our Facebook for details on our trip.

Colditz Cove sign

We did some hikes under five miles and spent some days doing nothing but sitting enjoying nature. We saw some awesome campgrounds, waterfalls, natural arches, flowers, animals, and met great people along the way. We even had a Great Blue Herron fly into the creek at our campsite to go fishing and had a resident barn owl next site for the entire week we were in the Smokies. It is so easy in today’s world to forget to slow down and just enjoy the day.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park has changed their reservation policy and you need one anytime of the year. You can not run generators in A and B loop at anytime in Elkmont. If someone had not shared this information, we would not have had a place to camp. Please share information on our Facebook page. With no surprises, the stress level definitely goes down. With more retirees traveling, we have found it harder and harder to just drive into a campground and expect to get a campsite, especially on the weekends. Besides the Smokies, during the week, there were plenty of vacancies in May.


Last fall, we traveled with our camper to Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. It was a totally different trip, using our camper more like a motel. Whether it’s a motel, or a glorified tent, it allows us to have flexibility of knowing we always have a place to sleep and the costs are far less then a motel vacation.

This time we brought our 11 year old cat, and she adjusted beautifully. With her, we are more inclined to have lunch in the camper while traveling to allow her to get out of the cat carrier. Of course, we eat better too! Here, we have been camping for forty five years, and still learning new ways to make our experience more enjoyable.

What have you done to make your trips better? We would love to have you share them with our site. Just email me, suewilliams@fiftysense.com. Happy Trails to You!

Ready for a Great Spring!
May 8, 2017

Sometimes, life gives you a bump in the road that takes a while to overcome. For the past 2 ½ years, I have been struggling with a mystery illness that has been debilitating. The first year, I struggled with extreme pain, exhaustion, and nausea 24/7. After a year, I was diagnosed with SIBO and started a regime of antibiotics and more tests. I also found out though over 100 tests, I am allergic to lactose and fructose. For over two years, the only thing that got me out of bed most days was pure stubbornness. Finally, this Spring, I can enjoy being active again. Whew!

John fainted and broke four ribs last spring, and then this fall, was rushed to the hospital with heart problems. He was lucky that he only needed one stent and the rest of his heart looks great. Pretty scary since his brother died of a heart attack at 57 and Johns LAD artery was 80% blocked. He is fully healed, hiking every day in the Smokies during Spring Break.

Why am I sharing this and what do we take from this experience? Of course, we are very aware that aging is the ultimate extreme sport! Apart from the usual aches and pains, our resolve to not let these experiences destroy our joy in life has been a challenge but we won! Many days, we had to adjust our goals, but still were committed to being active.

Instead of hiking 10 miles, it may have been walking around the block. Instead of gardening all day, my limit now is about 3 hours! This is frustrating, daunting, maddening, and depressing, but nothing a good laugh can’t help. We are fortunate to have each other to lean on. My advice if you don’t have a close support system, find a group to do activities. We have a section on Organizations to help you. There is a group for just about every activity and so many experiences are better shared.

I am heading down to Trail Days in Damascus, Va. It is a festival attended by about 15,000 lovers of hiking. If you’re there, and you see me, stop and say hi. If you haven’t already, send me a story of your experiences. You never know who you might motivate in their time of need. Enjoy the stories in our Active People section. Have a wonderful Spring and stay active!

Sue’s Column October 3, 2015


Life is Plan B

John and I are wondering if it is possible to ever have Plan A work. Our Spring Break this year was the most challenging of any vacation in our 45 years of marriage. What we did learn is it makes us even more determined to get outside more often! I am going to share with you what happened so you can see that it is very important to keep laughing and when things go wrong, it can make a good story.

John and I were planning on leaving for our annual trip to the Smokies the Wednesday after Easter. My dad was rushed to the hospital on Easter Sunday and I was with him until Tuesday when he came home to his apartment. So, Plan B, leave on Friday. Whoops, gale winds on Friday, leave on Saturday. Thursday, I got a phone call from him saying he was in a lot of pain and was going to bed. He was calling for help constantly, so Saturday, brought in home health care and hospice. Ok, leave on Sunday.


We got off on Sunday and only got 300 miles in 11 hours because of high winds and traffic jams. (We were pulling our new 28 foot trailer). Finally, we checked into Elkmont Campground in The Great Smokey Mountain National Park at 2PM Monday. Relieved we had finally arrived, we decided to take a nap, me inside the camper and John outside. A little while later, I hear this weak call, go outside to find John flat on his back in extreme pain. It turns out, he passed out, fell on a huge boulder, and after resting, felt no better. Six hours in the emergency at the hospital in Sevierville, we find out he has 4 broken ribs!


We realize it is going to take quite a while to feel well enough to get back to Michigan, so we settle into the idea we will be in the Smokies for a longer time than originally planned. Not to be! Friday, while getting a new muffler on the Explorer, I find out my dad died. OK. Camper with no cell service and I am the executor of the estate. So, I plan the memorial service from the visitors’ center 7 miles away from where we are camped.

Back to the emergency to get more pain meds on Sunday so we can head back home on Monday. We drove home Monday and Tuesday, taking many breaks and pain meds, and had the memorial service on Friday for my dad.

So, our vacation consisted of four days of driving, seeing the emergency ward twice, the muffler shop, and the inside of our camper. (We do love our new camper!) We never set one foot on a trail or did any sightseeing. Yep, the worst vacation for us! We realize it could have been much worse and we know we just have to laugh and tell the story. Happy trails to you! (Only people of our generation will answer, “until we meet again.”)

Sue’s Column October 3, 2015


As I get ready to attend the ALDHA Gathering in Shippensburg, PA next weekend, I am reminded on how important it is to belong to organizations that encourage us to get outdoors safely and enjoy it more. I have been sick for the past year and without support from groups like this, it would be hard to stay motivated. I will be giving two seminars, Common Sense Ideas for Backpacking after Fifty, and Prehab, how to get in shape and stay in shape.


It is so rewarding to impart knowledge and see the enthusiasm of the attendees. I’m not sure who gets more out of these seminars, them or me! Do you have organizations you would like us have it in our Organizations Page? Please email suewilliams@fiftysense.com and we will be happy to post the information. We know there are many groups our readers could benefit from and want to share this information!


ALDHA, (Appalachian Long Distance Hikers’ Association), along with the ATC, (Appalachian Trail Conservancy), were the first two organizations I contacted when I started backpacking at the age of 47. I thought I might be too old, and then found out there were tons of women backpacking well into their 80’s! The first time I attended a Gathering, I was worried about everyone being so experienced. I had no idea how helpful they were!

Although I am not well enough to go backpacking right now, these Gatherings remind me to get outside! John and I are planning a camping trip with our camper in Northern Michigan to enjoy the fall colors. What are you doing this fall? We would love your stories on our website! Please email me, suewilliams@fiftysense.com.


Before I know it, I will be teaching downhill skiing at two resorts. I found it really helps to stay in shape if I plan activities in all four seasons. What are you planning? Do you travel to other climates, enjoy the winter, or just make do? We hope you enjoy all the seasons!

If you haven’t done it already, please like us on Facebook, fiftysense.com. We are hoping to get comments and stories going on that page too. We will try to post about our time at the Gathering. Will you be going? Please let us know so we can say hi!

Sue’s Column - Summer Fun, July 8, 2015


We hope that everyone is having a great summer! We had such a great time a Trail Days in May. I had a great team! My longtime friend and hiking partner, The Old Grey Goose traveled down with me and not only was a terrific help at the booth, but we were able to backpack for five days afterwards. I have found that people you meet doing outdoor activities seem to be friends forever!


Goose met Mountain Man when she was backpacking in 1992, introduced him to me and now, twenty years later, helps every year. The Redhead was one of the first people I met when I started backpacking in 1996 and her whole family helped!


We would like to thank PresisionWerx Trailers, Geigerrig Hydrations Systems, Lightspeed Tents, Willow Balm Tripical Painkiller, Thorlo Socks, Paper Shower, Nalgene Bottles, Gu Energy, Nuun Hydration, Lightload Towels, and Farm to Feet Socks for supporting us and making Trail Days a whopping success!

Sometimes it takes a village to get everything done. If you are wondering about the weird names, when you long distance hike, it is common place to get a trail name. Some are given to you and other people pick their own. My trail name is Leapfrog. I have collected frogs since I was 15 and figured that since I was older, everyone would be leaping over me! It’s amazing how easy it is to remember someone by their trail name. We would love to hear if you have one, how you got your trail name.

50sense booth

We are getting ready to attend the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Biennial Conference. We will not only have a booth, but I will also be giving two seminars, Common Sense Ideas for Backpacking after Fifty, and Prehab- How to Get in Shape and Stay in Shape. I hope to see you there!

We are getting more friends on facebook, over 7500 likes. If you haven’t done so, please like us and contribute!


We post often with ideas and stories of active people. If you have a good story about any of the outdoor activities, or active people, please send it to me so I can share it on our site! suewilliams@fiftysense.com

Sue’s Column- Creating Memories March 21, 2015

Sue and John on the slopes

I want to thank all our readers who have said kind thoughts to me about my “mystery illness.” For four months, I was almost completely debilitated with body pain, nausea, digestive problems and weakness. The past two months, I was able to teach downhill skiing part time with the help of prescription medications. I am now feeling 80% better! This past six months have taught me to appreciate the good days and power through the bad ones.

I know many of you have had to deal with adversity in your activities and hope you will share your stories. Please share by sending your story and a couple pictures to suewilliams@fiftysense.com.

It is now time to think about Spring. We have exciting news to share! Many of you know our daughter, Melissa and her husband, Michael. They welcomed their first child, John “Jack” Michael Renwick into this crazy world on March 10, 2015 and we are all over the moon with happiness! Although they are not over 50, it takes many people to keep this site running and we couldn’t have done it without them.

We are looking forward to spending 12 days in the Smokies over Spring Break. There is nothing more healing than sitting by the Little Pigeon River, hiking, and being outside by a fire. This is a place we go almost every Spring Break since 1972. We call it our “sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits” vacation. Spending time with family away from the everyday distractions is our way of figuring out what our long term plans will be. What do you do to lower your stress and create lasting memories?

We are getting ready to go to Trail Days in Damascus, VA the weekend of May 15-17 and then the ACT Biennial July 17-24 at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA. These times are not just for long distance hikers, but for anyone who loves the outdoors and want to meet and learn from people with similar interests. Do you know of other conferences and festivals that our readership would like to know about? Please let us know by emailing suewilliams@fiftysense.com.

Not all our activities involve travel. Many are enjoyed close to home. We can’t wait to hike, backpack, walk, bike, canoe, kayak and sail this spring and summer. Check out our Health Section, http://www.fiftysense.com/health.shtml, to get some ideas on how to get in shape and stay in shape. This allows us to enjoy these activities much more!

We will be posting more reviews of awesome products we have come across that hopefully will make your outdoor experiences more fun. What product would you not leave home without? We have a section for you to write reviews on these products, http://www.fiftysense.com/readersreviews.shtml, and only have a couple so far so we need your help. There is no way we can review everything out there! This is your chance to share your knowledge! Please don’t compare the product to another, just let us know why you think it is awesome!

We appreciate all the support our readers have given us since 2007 and we are still committed to making this a place to share information to help people over fifty get outside and enjoy life more!

Wishing Everyone the Happiest of Holidays!
December 6, 2014

Sue and John at Christmas

It is hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us! We hope all is well with our readers.

I have had a challenging fall, ill with some mystery disease for the past three months, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming of getting on the ski slopes as a ski instructor. I am sure many of you have had challenging times in your lives when you wonder when you are going to feel well enough to get out there, doing what you love. I find that just thinking about getting on the slopes and hiking in the wilds keeps me going. What is your favorite sport? What is your favorite place you have traveled? I remember those times when I have been out backpacking and have had to keep going even when I don’t feel like getting out of my sleeping bag. One of the aspects of being active not normally talked about is remembering the challenging times while doing activities, and knowing we are tough and can get through adversity.

To help with shopping, we will be posting on our Facebook page over the next couple weeks our favorite companies who have products for gifts. We will cover everything from backpacking to adventure travel, to just fun gifts. Are you looking for one big item or some stocking stuffers? Of course, these great products can be given or bought anytime of the year.

Some of the companies are tried and true old favorites. Others will be new companies with what we feel are superior products. The reason we decided to use a web site instead of writing books is to share with our readership new ideas and products. We would love to hear about your favorite products. We have a section for reader reviews and it is time for you to share that awesome product!

Do you have plans to travel this winter? Where have you gone that you would recommend to others? My trip to Nepal trekking the Annapurna Circuit has to be my favorite so far, but we want to hear other ideas from our readers of places to put on our bucket list. With retirement around the corner for John, and with many having more free time, we want to hear about those special places. If it hadn’t been for our readers, I never would have thought that I could put Kilimanjaro on my list.

Who is that special active person in your life that has a story to tell but doesn’t think he or she is so special? What a great tribute if you write their story and we will post it! Don’t forget a couple pictures so we can also see who this special person is. Without all the special people we have met in the last seven years, we would probably not still have this site going. You are the ones who motivate us! Thanks for supporting us!

Fall is Fabulous!
September 21, 2014

Fall colors

I am sitting watching football and planning a backpacking trip in a couple weeks, reflecting back on this summer and looking forward to cool, crisp days. I have realized that although I love all seasons, there is something magical about the trees changing colors and life slowing down a little.

We had a great summer and hope you did too! The Outdoor Retailers Show was amazing. We are always amazed at all the new products and technology for outdoor enthusiasts. Keep an eye out for new products reviewed and new knowledge being presented. In a couple of weeks I will be doing two presentations at the ALDHA Gathering in Williamstown, Mass held October 10-12. Hope to see you there! I will be talking about Common Sense Ideas for Backpacking after Fifty, and Prehab - How to Get in Shape and Staying in Shape. This is a wonderful time to meet and discuss with other like-minded people about hiking. Or if you just like the out-of-doors, there are some excellent presentations on awesome places to explore. When I first attended almost twenty years ago, it was the first time I realized there are tons of people like me who would rather be active and outdoors trying new, and sometimes challenging activities.

Summer is always hectic but fun for our family. Our daughter who lives in Denmark came for a month with our granddaughter, four and grandson, six. We also have two granddaughters, two and the newest born in July. We find that summer seems to be a time for family. No big trips, just lots of fun! I would be curious how many of you plan your trips for summer. I think the major difference now that we don't have to think about our children's school schedule, we have more freedom to pick when we travel. There are advantages to getting older! Traveling without the summer crowds is awesome!

We did get a marvelous opportunity this summer. Reliance picked us for a trip to Lake Tahoe to get input on product development. It was mostly play and lots of talk. They like diversity in the group and we had that! The participants went from one woman who had never been camping to a man who spends most of his time exploring places off the grid and everyone in between. They spoiled us rotten, taking us hiking, horseback riding, white water rafting, and feeding us gourmet meals over the campfire.

Now, with fall here, I don't feel as frenetic and more organized. Survival bracelets are getting made, articles written, products reviewed and some of my "meant to" projects are getting done. But, there is are gone! Living in Michigan, we anticipate beautiful fall colors and cool evenings for a great night's sleep. Being a ski instructor, I can hope for a perfect winter with lots of snow, moderate temperatures and lots of sun. Yep, an optimist in her glory.

I hope you will share some of your experiences by writing me at suewilliams@fiftysense.com. What is your favorite season and why? Did you do something you never thought you would do? What was the highlight of your summer? Please share your experiences so more of our readers see how active we can be after fifty!


The Joy of Festivals
August 1, 2014

We are on our way to the Outdoor Retailers Show in Utah where over 1500 manufacturers show their new and exciting products. Looking back at Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia we are reminded on how special festivals are to gather, exchange ideas and meet people with similar interests.

This year, it was the end of an almost perfect ten day trip. We would like to thank all the companies who helped make it a success by either sending new products to show or gave us products to give away. Thorlo socks, Rite in the Rain, Bugbands, Geigerrig packs, Space pens, Paper Shower, Whistles for Life, Lightload Towels, Oboz boots, EFX Performance bracelets, Camelback, Cushe, and Ex-officio have continued to support us throughout the years.

We have some new companies, Willow Balm tropical painkiller, Propet Rejuvenate Sandals, and Farm to Feet socks have joined the Fiftysense Design Seal of Approval. You can find reviews on all these fine companies under our Product Review section, http://www.fiftysense.com/reviews.shtml. We are looking forward to finding many new companies and products to tell everyone about at the Outdoor Retailers Show.

I continue to make and give away a couple hundred Survival Bracelets each year to active people over fifty. It seems that the number of active seniors increase every year. What a thrill to listen to the stories. Now we need to have everyone share those stories on our site. You can email Sue directly at suewilliams@fiftysense.com.

I started off the week by reconnecting with one of my favorite hiking partners, The Old Goose. We met originally in 1996 and hiked for ten years. Then, she had to take a personal break for eight years. How thrilling to be backpacking with her again! There is much to be said about knowing how someone else hikes and knowing no matter what happens on our trip, we will still be laughing. We had four glorious days to hike, catchup, and relax!

She is ten years older than me and worried about how she would do, but when you hike for years, you may be a little slower, but she sure didn't have any issues. We are already planning our next trip. Guess we have a few good years ahead of us, yippee!

Then, time to get to Damascus and set up our booth. I am so glad that Melissa, our Marketing Director and Michael, our Media Director were able to meet us there because we were swamped Friday and Saturday! Only one bout of bad weather, high winds and rain swept through on Friday and collapsed many canopies, ours included. It wouldn't be Trail Days without some kind of weather challenge! Not too much rain, but getting out of the sleeping bag when it is 33 degrees and motivated was a challenge for this person who is not a fan of mornings!

We always get excited about seeing people from past years since we have been doing this since 2007, and am always amazed at how many new friends we meet each year. Now, if we can just get all those wonderful adventures on our site! Please write for us. If you don't feel comfortable writing, contact Sue and I will be happy to interview you. Did you know we have a section for reader reviews? http://www.fiftysense.com/readersreviews.shtml.

What is your favorite gear? What would you like to see on the site? Have you checked out our Backpacking Stories section and read about Goose the bag lady? http://fiftysense.com/stories/baglady.shtml How much fun will it be when Fiftysense.com becomes a household word with your stories adding encouragement to those wanting more knowledge!

Sue and John at the waterfall

We Are Getting Ready For Another Busy Season
May 1, 2014

It has been a crazy year, ever had one of those? After a year of unexpected events, we are ready for spring and all the activities. We just got back from ten days camping and hiking in the Smokies and are gearing up to have a booth again this year at Trail Days in Damascus, VA the third weekend in May. Hope to see many of you there!

This past year, we have given much thought about what to do with Fiftysense.com and feel committed to keep going. It was reaffirmed in talking with people in the Smokies information is still greatly needed and appreciated on how to do human powered outdoor activities safely. We hope you are telling your friends about us and still want your stories! We can’t do this alone.

We have gone to the Smokies since 1972, usually at Spring Break. This is our time to steal a little Spring and spend ten days talking, hiking, reading, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. This year, we had wonderful weather, so we enjoyed hiking to waterfalls, seeing of wildflowers, sitting for hours by the fire and remembering all the crazy experiences we have had. It doesn’t take a ten day backpacking trip to enjoy the beauty of nature. Where are your favorite places?

We have found that the more knowledge one has on how to do an activity, we are not only safer, but have so much more fun! Even when everything seems to be going wrong, we say, “this will really make a great story someday!” Then we have the wonderful experience of hiking to a waterfall on a gorgeous spring day and creating the perfect fire on a star filled night. How can you describe that feeling? We are still very committed to getting more people, especially after 50, outdoors so they too can experience that feeling.

What are your plans for this year? Are you ready to try something new? What can we do to help in your experiences? What else would you like to see on our site? Please write me at suewilliams@fiftysense.com. You can also send stories and pictures to me at that email address.

FiftySense at Trail Days

Trail Days
Damascus, Va
May 25, 2013

We just got back from Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia May 17-19. People ask us why we are willing to travel over 1600 miles to have a booth there to tell people about Fiftysense.com. It is so much more than just promoting us. About 20,000 outdoor enthusiasts attend this every year to celebrate the Appalachian Trail. We find this is a great way to promote the new items we have reviewed for our site in the past year.

We find that after spending three days talking with people about our web site and what we are hoping to accomplish, we get invigorated because we are still the only comprehensive web site for people over fifty who are looking to either start a new sport, find ways to get healthy and stay healthy, keep current on new products and innovations, get ideas for adventure travel, and read stories about other active people. Everyone we talked to appreciates the knowledge we make available. We also realize that most of what we talk about on the site is great information for active people of any age.

This year we were especially reminded on how great people are. There was a scary accident during the hikers’ parade, where a car lost control and plowed through the hikers. Over 60 people were injured, but thanks to quick thinking of the crowd, no one died. Some of the hikers actually stopped the car. Others lifted up the car to get a woman out who was trapped underneath. This event put a damper on the celebrations, but we all feel so relieved that no one died.

This event gives us a chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. We feel very fortunate to have such a following. I already received an article to post on the web site from someone we just met. I am hoping that I get many more people participating with our site. We thank all of you for the stories and articles that have already been sent in. Please let me know what you would like me to write about and/or what problems and questions you would like addressed.

When I left Northern Michigan to go to Trail Days, it was snowing!! Today is beautiful and finally I feel like spring has sprung and summer is right around the corner. Time to dust off the kayak, canoe, camper, backpacking and hiking gear and celebrate living every day to the fullest. What are your plans for the summer? Please post your ideas on our Facebook page, fiftysense.com.

Sue's Campground

We Can’t Do This Alone
May 10, 2013

As we get ready for Trail Days next week, I am reminded how we have had the success we have because of support from so many wonderful manufacturers. Last week, Larry from PrecisionTravelWerz.com came to our house to make improvements on the utility trailer he provided for review last year. (It used to be called Road Warrior Sports.) He spent the whole day making sure we have all the up to date modifications to display.

We are always amazed at how the companies we work with continue to come up with new, improved products and want us to get the word out about what is happening. Our readership has let us know many times how they love seeing the new products not only on our site, but also at the events we attend. We decided to create a web site instead of writing books or pamphlets because this industry changes so quickly.

We would love to have more input from our readers on great products you have come across. We created a whole section for reader reviews and sure wish there was more participation. We also want more stories about trips, techniques to make the sport more enjoyable, and active people. I know there are tons of stories out there -- how can we get them on the site?

I have started this column in hopes that it inspires our readers. Please let me know what you think about the articles so far, and also topics/ideas you would like me to address. The articles don’t have to be perfect. I know I am not the best writer in the world, so I write, check for errors and post it before I analyze too closely. Otherwise, there is analysis paralysis and nothing gets posted.

We have always wanted this to be a community site where people can share ideas with others. This is about people over fifty being active and enjoying it! What can we do to get more of you to participate? We are not experts in many areas. We don’t care if it is an article you write, one you find, or an organization we haven’t mentioned.

We want to thank all of you, manufacturers and readers who have contributed articles for us. We get so excited reading other’s adventures. If you don’t want to write the article, we would be happy to interview the person who does wonderful things, and maybe the person doesn’t even know how awesome and inspiring these activities can be. I am reminded about Grandma Soule. She didn’t start backpacking until she was 50 and logged over 45,000 miles before she died in her 80’s. The story you read on active people section was written by me for her funeral. This inspirational woman had no idea how impressive she was. I am honored to have known her. Do you know someone like that? I challenge all are readers to help out and send in those stories!

Spring time stream

Weather is Not
the Issue

May 2, 2013

Watching the Kentucky Derby today, I am amazed at the positive attitude of all the trainers and owners. I realized that when you have only one chance to make history, weather is not the issue, but how you deal with adversity is. When we choose an outdoor sport, we always hope for perfect weather, and when that doesn’t happen, we want to complain.

I have always enjoyed hiking in the rain. It cools me down and helps me go uphill faster. But, once I am in camp, I don’t want to set up, or take down in the rain. So far, in the 16 years I have been backpacking, I have only had to set up and take down once, figuring that if this older woman is backpacking, I am entitled to a break and seem to get it. Now, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been scary weather and less than ideal situations, but the way to get through it is to remember that it will make a really good story some day!

Think about your experiences, and which ones do you talk about? Usually it’s the ones that don’t go well. Sometimes, the only way I get through an experience is thinking about talking about it later, or figuring out how I can handle it better the next time. Then again, sometimes, sh.. happens!

I believe the best piece of gear I carry is a sense of humor. It doesn’t weigh anything, but can lighten the load. Nothing works better than a good laugh to get through adversity. John and I had a pleasure in 1975 of meeting a very wise man who helped us get through a challenging experience by telling us that we have a choice: we can either laugh or cry because we have no ability to change the situation. That advice has stayed with us through so many trying times.

Now, my new phrase is “Whatever, it will all work out!” What phrase works for you? Maybe we could have a whole section on how to get through trying times. Let’s face it. We all have those stories where we have no idea how we will get through and yet have figured out how to overcome adversity. What is your favorite story? Will you share it with us?

Car with trailer in campsite

Why We Need Spring
May 2, 2013
For the first time this year, we have nice weather. In Northern Michigan, we finally saw the end of snow with yesterday reaching 80 degrees. Last week was snowing! What happened to Spring? Until this year, I never realized how I need it. Being a downhill ski instructor, Winter gives me plenty of exercise. I then look forward to getting ready for summer activities. Although I know I should keep in shape, if the entire month of April is still winter and bad weather, the motivation goes to zero!

John and I went to the Smokie Mountains National Park for Spring Break and had horrible weather! We were only able to hike 2 out of 9 days. We love all kinds of camping. John knows how much I like to backpack and suggested tent camping to save money on gas. I reminded him how unpredictable the weather is this time of the year so we took the travel trailer. The main goal of this trip is to get away and relax. I think you need to plan a trip with the end goal in mind. Boy, were we glad! I did kiddingly ask him a few times if he wished he was in a tent...

We spent the week of 40 degree rainy weather relaxing and reading by the beautiful Little Pigeon River at Elkmont Campground. Staying warm and dry made it an enjoyable vacation. If we had been in a tent, we probably would have stayed a few nights in a motel or left early. But, we do count on this vacation to work on getting in shape and would rather have been outside every day. Bummer! Where are the wildflowers, the warm days and cold nights?

Spring means rebirth, new beginnings. It should be a time to get motivated, to plan activities, and slowly get in shape. Not being a type of person who will go to the health club, I count on long walks, getting the gardens ready, cleaning up around the house, dusting off the golf clubs, backpacking and canoeing gear. I finally found the Gibbon Slackline I use to build core strength and balance last week when the snow finally melted.

So now, I am trying to do everything in a few weeks and boy, I know I am almost 65! When I used to garden all day, now I can only do it a few hours and then take a break. I wonder how other people coped with having no Spring. Maybe it is needed for us older outdoor enthusiasts, so we can get ready at our speed.

Fifty Sense Editor Sue Williams and her camp site

We are Evolving!
May 1, 2013
John and I are pleased to announce that not only are we personally evolving, but so is the web site. We have been listening to our readership for almost six years and just as when we started the site, we are committed to give as much knowledge as possible to help others get outdoors safely and enjoying life more. That is why we decided to do a web site instead of writing a book so we can keep our readership up to date on the new, improved products, best techniques to do a sport, places to travel, inspirational people, and resources. We have been exposed to so many people over the years that have given us knowledge and inspiration. We find, with every adventure, we learn something new.

One of my frustrations, like most people, is I don’t tend to get the information out when the event happens. Then, the story goes into the “things to do” list and never gets done. Gee, I wish I was perfect! Oh well. Since John and I are always trying to get better, we came up with an idea of a column by me where I can share ideas as I come across them. It may be a question discussed that is asked by a reader, a story about what John and I are experiencing, or just random ideas. I promise to stay away from politics and religion, only ideas about enjoying life more.

We are making other changes to the web site, like changing the background color, but the basic concepts will never change. John and I are committed in our own life and our web site to make it the best ever! We are celebrating turning 65 and our 43rd anniversary this summer. John had hip surgery last summer and I had two knee surgeries the past few years, so now we are ready to embark on more pain free activities, hurrah! Since we plan on living to at least 100, we had better get in shape and stay in shape, sharing how we are doing this.

I will be posting the first section of each column on our facebook page, fiftysense.com, so you can comment there on what I write. Plus, maybe this will inspire more people to ask questions, and write stories we can add to the site. Our goal has always been to make this a community site, with participation from our readers. I bet there are tons of you who have thought of things we should be covering, and we need all the help we can get. We would love you to share ideas! So we are ready to evolve personally and with the site, enjoy!

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