Shoestring Warrior Curtis grew up camping with his parents at Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, when Tioga Pass was barely a two-lane road, and started backpacking during the Nixon administration. At 63-years-old, he returned to backpacking with his girlfriend Allison, joining us on two Shoestring Adventures in Yosemite and Joshua Tree. Balancing life as a lawyer, Curtis feels joy and freedom in the mountains and believes the secret to longevity lies in a good pair of hiking boots.
Learn more about Curtis in our interview below, including his advice for Shoestring Warriors in his age group who are interested in getting outdoors!
Shoestring Warrior: Curtis
Canoga Park/Woodland Hills
What are your passions outside of work?
Hiking, frisbee, going to bars, cycling and new adventures with my girlfriend Allison
How would you describe your level of camping experience?
Intermediate (no fear but few skills — a scary combination)
Tell us about yourself!
I recently moved and am now living with Allison. Who would’ve thunk? Life has improved immeasurably. Outside of work, we spend a lot of time outdoors, hiking at night with our dog Rosie into Fryman Canyon and the Tree People (with flashlights), up the Angeles Crest highway, and hitting bars on weekends. Our recent favorites are Golden Road and Barbara’s at the Brewery.
What do you love most about backpacking?
It’s a long list, but mostly the joy and freedom of getting away from the noise (it’s so wonderfully quiet in the mountains) and seeing endless beauty. My first camping experience was in elementary school with my parents. We camped in Tuolumne Meadows twice a year, when Tioga Pass was barely a two-lane road. My parents loved camping. I started backpacking during the Nixon administration.
How does your yoga practice bring you closer to nature?
That’s a great question. For me, yoga is all about flexibility. At my age, one of the keys is physical balance. Without it, I wouldn’t feel as good as I do, or be as active. I’m a believer.
Now that you have been on Shoestring Adventures in both Yosemite and Joshua Tree, what was your favorite memory from either trip?
That’s a tough one. I love being outdoors and being with Alyx and the Shoestring Adventure community, but the biggest thrill has been going with Allison and sharing the experience. It’s amazing being with someone who loves the outdoors as much as I do. It’s exciting! As Allison says, Life is Good.
What piece of gear did you find to be the most helpful?
Years ago, I would have said the obvious, my tent or sleeping bag, but the backpacker’s best friend are hiking poles. I totally scoffed at using them but Alyx insisted. I thought I would hate them but now I wouldn’t backpack without them. P.S. I got mine via eBay. They were half price.
What advice do you have for Shoestring Warriors in your age group who are interested in learning to backpack?
Advice? Hah, that’s a good one. No one listens to me.
I’d tell any AARPer to get a good pair of hiking boots, buy a water bottle, a small daypack, and get out there and hike. I know a lot of sedentary oldsters who are missing out. Backpacking is great for your head, body, it’s fun and, who knows, it might add to longevity.
My best advice is to join a group like Shoestring Adventures who will help any oldster get started. And don’t be embarrassed if you hike slower than the millennials. Last trip, I was 30 years older than the others. No one cared.
We heard you and your girlfriend Allison are looking to connect with other outdoorsy couples to organize local group hikes. Any plans to start your own Meetup soon?
We’re giving it a try. On some recent hikes, when we’ve met other hikers, we’ve actually tried to exchange phone numbers, but they think we’re “swingers.” We’re way too square for that. We just want to meet fellow hikers and backpackers in our age group. Not much luck so far, but we’ll keep at it.
Where to next?
We had hoped to join Shoestring Adventures for one of the Yosemite trips this summer, but family plans got in the way. Until our next backpacking trip, we’ll do some weekend camping. Our recent favorite (thanks to my daughter) is Mt. Figueroa, above Los Olivos. My bucket list includes backpacking into the Lost Coast and hiking Mt. Whitney.