Proposed Hiking Pace Assessment (Coal Bank Pass to Social Rock Loop)

Recently I was asked at what pace I hike in comparison to the Durango Seniors Outdoors pace descriptions. That’s a good question and one that it appears can be difficult to answer satisfactorily if you’ve never hiked with the person. My moderate pace could be quite speedy for some or slow for others. I know I go more slowly than some hikers uphill but faster down. I also know I can clip along off-trail faster than many. So to really answer this properly I think you need a yardstick for comparison. I propose that yardstick is a single timed hike that everyone knows and probably does at least once a year (if they can deal with the crowds). That hike would the loop from the Coal Bank Pass trailhead to the social rock on Engineer Mountain and return.

That’s a super common hike with enough elevation (1145′) and distance (4.67 miles) to assess speed relative to many on-trail San Juan hikes.

Having now suggested this, I decided to time my hike this morning by walking at my normal pace for this loop. My results for this loop are almost exactly 2 hours total. That pace is 2.33 mph which is my moderate speed. I didn’t attempt to make it speedier or slower, but just walked at the pace that I normally clip along at.

So what Seniors Outdoors pace is that and how close do the SO paces match up with your expectations? To get a real answer you need substantive comparison to other hikers against the proposed metric and then build speed categories within some timed percentage of common hike times.

For instance if many hikers fell within plus/minus 5 to 10 percent of this, that might be a category. Building an accurate category list would be dependent on having sufficient data points (individual timed hikes). To that end I’d suggest the next time you do this hike…time it and send me the results either by email (wimberosa at gmail) or posting a comment on this blog. I’ll add it to the following table and see if we can come up with good speed categories.

Dave Craft

Time to Clean Out Your Garage and Closets?

Many of us have accumulated outdoor items and clothes that could be put to life saving use by donating them to individuals without permanent shelter.

Harding Cure brought the collection at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church to our attention at the last SO meeting. Put your old tents, sleeping bags and warm clothing to a good use… our homeless neighbors survive the Durango winter.

Neighbors In Need Alliance
Emergency Cold Season

Support & Services Donation Day,
November 23rd from 9:00am – 12:00pm
@ St. Marks Episcopal Church, Durango

Many SO! members may have used gear and clothing that they no longer use which could benefit the unhoused in Durango.
Needed item are:

  • Camping gear
    • tents, tarps
    • sleeping bags
    • sleeping mats
    • rope
    • headlamps
    • backpacks
    • fleece blankets
  • Clothing is certainly needed but primarily for warmth, such as
    • boots (men size 9-13, women 7-9),
    • gloves
    • hats
    • socks
    • winter jackets

               Put your old tents, sleeping bags and warm clothing to a good use….. and
help our homeless neighbors survive the Durango winter.

And if you can’t pull things together in time for this event, Manna Soup Kitchen is always a great place to drop off items.

Manna accepts ongoing donations of outdoor gear throughout the winter. Each day after meal time, some clients volunteer to clean up the soup kitchen. In return, they are provided clothing, sleeping bags, tents, etc. So there is an accountability piece that plays into Manna’s outgoing donations.

Manna Soup Kitchen also serves brunch on Christmas Day when they distribute gifts, such as coats, sleeping bags, hand warmers, and whatever other winter gear they have.

Manna accepts donations as long as they have someone on the campus. This is generally Monday Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., and weekends from 7 a.m. – noon.

Please consider one of these worthy causes if you have winter clothes or gear that you no longer need.

Winter is on its way…

As many of us are seeing the first snowflakes recently and this week is decidedly colder, many of our thoughts are turning from hiking, climbing, biking, and water activities to winter activities like snowshoeing, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing, and more. Before you know it, we will be posting avalanche precautions on the website again!

As we gear up for the cold weather outings/activities, we welcome blog submissions about fall/winter activities, tips/tricks, your favorite outing this time of year, or your favorite clothing/equipment.

And if you don’t have a blog submission, let us know if we should continue the blogs on the website (email You have probably noticed that we have made a change in that the entire blog is included in the email announcement about the new posting. This was done in response to one member’s comments. (You can still read all of the blogs on the website as well.)

Our membership is so diverse in skills, age, knowledge/experience, and interests that not everyone will be interested in every posting. We’ve tried to provide a variety of information although it has been geared a bit more for the members that are newer to the area or activities. Submissions from/for the more experienced members are welcome to make the postings of interest to a wider range of members.

And speaking of gear, if you want to sell (or give away gear), that can be posted on the blog as well. Please note that Seniors Outdoors! will not take responsibility for the accuracy/condition/safety of any gear postings however we will provide the blog as a vehicle for members to connect to sell gear.

And don’t forget that Seniors Outdoors! members receive a 10% discount on regularly-priced merchandise at the following retailers: Backcountry Experience, Brown’s Shoe Fit, Brown’s Sport Shoe, Gardenswartz, Pine Needle Mountaineering, and Spaah Shop. Just tell the merchant you are an SO! member.

Here’s to a great winter season!

Hiking on a Rainy Day

Photo by Alaric Hartsock on Unsplash

Now that we are starting to have some rain, it is time to think about hiking in the rain…or getting caught in a storm while you are out hiking.

As you know, the weather here is ever changing, especially in the mountains. Sudden showers crop up so be prepared.

While this won’t cover all considerations, I wanted to remind you of at least a few ways to prepare:

  • If you don’t have a pack cover, have your rain jacket large enough to cover your pack.
  • If you choose to carry an umbrella, make sure it is large enough to cover the pack as well.
  • A gallon size zip-lock type plastic bag is a good place to carry your map, phone, and anything else that would be damaged by water.
  • Throw in the towel. Consider carrying a small towel that will dry quickly. It is especially helpful if it has a loop so you can attach it to your pack to dry while you are hiking.
  • Dress lightly in layers so you can add/shed layers as needed. (Always a good plan, no matter the weather/season.)
  • Synthetic, wicking fabrics like polypropylene wick moisture from you skin to help you stay dryer/warmer.
  • Make sure your clothing is waterproof and breathable. You may have moisture condensing on your skin/clothing, not just sweat.
  • Hands down and jacket cuffs open. This helps to circulate air beneath your shell.
  • If you have a long sleeved shirt on, pull the sleeves up a bit so that the cuffs don’t get wet.
  • If possible, wear gaiters and rain pants. The rain pants should go over the gaiters to help keep your boots dry.
  • A wide-brimmed rainhat will keep you from having to pull on your hoodie (and being miserable like the person in the image above). This gives you more circulation than you have with a hoodie.

This may be basic but it is just meant to jog your mind and plan ahead.

Have some favorite rain gear? Shoot me an email and we can let our members know.



Lacing your Boots or Shoes for a Better Fit

Dell Manners gave me an unaccredited article on lacing your shoes/boots for a better fit. Since our feet are key to almost any activity that we do, a quick review of common issues may be of interest.

  1. High Instep/High-Volume Foot
    1. If the top of your foot falls asleep or you have an irritation on the top of the foot, you may have a high instep. This causes your foot to take up a large volume of your shoe.
    2. To alleviate the irritation, follow the lacing pattern below to give you more space
    3. Use the eyelets closest to the tongue of the shoe. This technique gives the foot more space.
  2. Low-Volume/Narrow Foot
    1. If tightening your laces doesn’t prevent your foot from sliding around in your shoe, you may want to lock the laces to eliminate the excess volume in the shoe.
    2. Or use the eyelets farthest from the tongue of the shoes. This will bring up the side of the shoe.
  3. Heel Slippage
    1. In either the two holes farthest away from your toes or the last hole and that odd hole that is past the curve of the shoe
    2. Use every eyelet, making sure that the area closest to the heel is tied tightly while less tension is used near the toes. When you have reached the next-to-last eyelet on each side, thread the lace through the top eyelet, making a small loop. Then, thread the opposite lace through each loop before tying it.
  4. Narrow Heel and Wide Forefoot
    1. Use two laces. Thread through the top half of the eyelets and the other lace through the bottom half of the eyelets. The lace closest to the heel (top eyelets) should be tied more tightly than the other lace closest to the toes (bottom eyelets).


Pictures & details: American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society®
Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation,
,, and an unknown source.

Make a Ball Cap Into A Visor

I love Gail Davidson’s ball cap/visor with the havelock drape to protect her ears/neck from the sun. Janet Reichl modified an existing ball cap for her. Instructions are from Janet below.

How to Make a Ball Cap into a Visor

  1. Working on the inside of the hat, pin the band to the body of the hat so you can easily mark a cutting line that is about 3/8” from the edge of the band. See picture.
  2. Cut out the top of the hat.
  3. Fold the cut edge toward the inside of the hat so your fold line is even with the top edge of the band and the cut edge becomes hidden between the hat and the band. Pin in place.
  4. Sew the folded edge to the band, either by machine or by hand.

This is an easy project that will work with any ball cap that has an inside band that isn’t too thick to sew through.

Now I hate sewing so I came up with a faster/easier idea, although it doesn’t look nearly so nice. I took a clean handkerchief and a ready-made visor (so I don’t have to cut/sew) and pulled the handkerchief up from the inside and let it  drape down a bit. So far, this has stayed in place and is easy to remove and throw into the washing machine. Janet aptly pointed out that it could blow away so I could put a pin or even add some Velcro (non-sticky part on the band of the visor, sticky part on the cloth handkerchief). If I ever have trouble, I will but so far, even though the visor is slightly large for my head, it seems quite secure.

If you have suggestions for things to make life easier/better for our members, send the information to

SO! Blog

Anyone who was a member prior to the website probably remembers the newsletter that SO! used to send out periodically prior to our awesome website. It was a way to communicate the outings but also other things like new members and topics of interest. This blog is a trial to see if there is interest in having member input on a variety of topics.

Up to now, we could post photos of our outings (thank you Tomas Ward for your hard work on this), we don’t have a way to really share fun, exciting, or interesting things that we experience (or want to experience).

Initially, the blog is somewhat of an experiment. We will allow it to be open to various types of communications to see what seems to suit our members best. Some examples of types of entries are:

  • Especially interesting outings. While I may go on a hike with the Wednesday Easy Hikers and really enjoy it, I wouldn’t normally blog about it unless there was something special that I see or come across. Someone else who goes on a hike which is unusual, might want to write something up, including photos.
  • Have or need advice? I was on a hike recently and overheard some people talking about their favorite shoes and hiking boots. Other members might be interested in that information. Or maybe you are in the market for new gear and wonder what has worked well for other members…you can ask about it in a blog.
  • And speaking of gear, do you have some to sell, trade, or give away? Or would you like to see if another member has something that you need? You can submit a “blog” about this.

We probably need a few ground rules, but I hope to keep them minimal.

  • A maximum length for an entry is about 500-700 words
  • You may link to another site with additional information
  • A maximum number of 3-4 photos will be posted. (If you have more, you can include a link to Google Drive, DropBox, etc.)
  • Write from your experience. You may love X brand of hiking boot and the next person may hate it. You are free to state your opinion but please respect other people’s opinions.
  • Keep it kind. We are members of SO! to have fun and the blog should reflect that as well. Topics should relate directly to outings.
  • The webmaster has final approval of any postings, editing, or comments.

New entries will be posted in the announcement section of the home page and if possible, in an email.

As I said in the beginning of this post, this new feature is offered as a trial to see if folks find it helpful/interesting. I know that many of you are doing many interesting things, and not just outings. So put on your creative cap and send your web team (David Wright, Tomas Ward, and Lindie Hunt) your submissions either to or using the Contact Us form (select the “website or blog” button).


From Margaret Mayer Wandering Naturalist

The flowers and plants are lush from the winter snows and especially if you are following a stream and in aspen spruce forest. Rocky Mountain Columbine are big bouquets, little white Canada violets still blooming in moist places, and tall light blue chiming bells are starting to bloom.

Edibles you might want to enjoy are tendrils of vetches, anise flavored seeds of sweet cicely, leaves of bittercress and osha but be sure you know poisonous water hemlock. Strawberries,raspberries, and thimbleberries will be ready for eating in a couple weeks.

Vetch, image from Wikipedia

Till next time enjoy the world of plants