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

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

What Are Our Members Doing?

I thought it might be interesting to see how many people participated in outings on a random week. Here are the results of outings for the week of June 30-July 6:

DateHike NameDifficultyNumber of Participants
June 30Goulding Creek Trail to Jones Creek TrailHard, 11 miles, 2200’, Pace moderately brisk5
July 1
Two Hour Monday Hike6 miles, 1500 ft, Brisk Pace5 (includes late comers)
July 1Climb Madden PeakHard 5.5 miles, 2500 ft12
July 1Monday Bike Ride for Intermediate Road CyclistsModerate Pace12
July 2Vallecito CreekHard, 11 miles, 1,200 ft., Moderate Pace8
July 3Cascade Creek TrailModerate, 6 mile, 900 ft., HIGH ALTITUDE, min. elevation 9,000 ft., Moderate pace18
July 3Edgemont HighlandsEasy, Up to 3 miles, Up to 300 ft., Easy Pace18
July 4Bike RideModerate to Leisurely Pace, 29 miles average 12 mph10
July 6Taylor Lake Saturday ClassicModerate to Hard, 8 to 12.5 miles, 1000 to 2620 ft., Moderate Pace16

As expected, we had a wide range of activities to meet a variety of interests and abilities.

Thank you to all of our leaders for your information.

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

Wednesday Easy Hikers

Wednesday Easy Hikers, Greg and Karen Bell, crossing creek where culvert was washed out.

In the past, I have sometimes felt that I wasn’t a “real” Seniors Outdoors member because I only do the Wednesday Easy Hikes (WEH). Of all of the outings offered, these are the easiest (except maybe for the River Walks in the winter). Before the WEH began, I had some trepidation the night prior to a hike that was new to me. Being relatively new to Durango, that meant most of the hikes. Now I feel almost no concerns before starting a new WEH.

Folks choose these easier hikes for a variety of reasons, most commonly because of age, physical condition, and pre or post surgery. While we are less likely to have lots of rocks to scale, we may well have long, and even fairly steep, inclines to climb. Our pace is slower than the Wednesday Wanderers but we usually hike about 3 miles. We have had anywhere from 3 to 18 participants each outing.

On a recent hike to Tripp Gulch, we were faced with a choice of crossing a creek that had washed out the culvert we had planned to walk across or returning the way we had come. We all agreed that we would move forward. Some hikers found a precarious crossing a little upstream but most of us climbed down 5 or 6 feet (well above my less than 5 foot height), crossed the stream, and up again. We all made it unscathed and happy that we were out in nature.

As a result, I feel I have earned the right to really be in SO! I look forward to our next outing. I’m pleased that SO! provides such a wide variety of activities and levels of activities to accommodate so many people. Keep it up!