Millie asked me this question when we left the gym. As I thought over possible limitations of getting older, I had a flashback of a woman on a mountain and whose answer would be a definite, “No way!”

We had moved to Houston in the spring, and after a hot, muggy Texas summer we were anxious to return of the mountains and de-stress. The closest mountain wilderness is Big Bend National Park -- our destination.

Excited to see to its acclaimed vistas, we got up before sunrise to begin the South Rim Trial, leading high up into the Chisos Mountains. Eager to reach the highest point, we selected the shortest route from the Basin, though it was steep and rocky. Undaunted by the trail and lifted by an adrenal high, we seemed to fly up the trail.

As we rounded a bend, we encountered an elderly woman steadily climbing up each stone step with the help of hiking poles. Her colorful scarf, white blouse, pants and hat were stunning. Her silver hair looked as though she had stepped out of a beauty salon.  We were panting, out of breath, but she was breathing normally.

Our elderly companion shared that she was 80, and that she had been climbing this particular trail for years. Usually a son from Alpine accompanied “Grandma.”

But today she had decided on the solitude of hiking alone. Among the crags, with views across the Chihuahuan  Desert, she said that she felt at home. Her appearance certainly reflected that inner calm and determination.

At some stage we inevitably peer into the future and acknowledge that the body will slow down as we age. But that doesn’t have to mean stopping.  Hulda Crooks began mountaineering at the age of seventy, and in her nineties, she became the oldest woman to ascend Mount Fuji. 

Isn’t this about beliefs and desire?

Please share how you might answer Millie’s question.

Do you think your answer would change 10 years from now?