Things that sound like compliments on the hiking trail but really aren't:
"I hope I can still hike like that when I'm your age."
"When I'm older I want to be like you."
"I hope I'm half as active as you when I'm your age."
"She looks great/is really fit for her age."
If you like to hike, run or really any kind of outdoor activity, if you haven't heard this yet, you're probably too young. You will.
On the surface these sound like flattering statements, and in reality they are usually meant that way. Maybe it's just me, but it comes across more like, "You're old, but you do okay for your age."
There are plenty of places I feel old. In places where as a young woman I would be noticed, now I'm invisible. When I'm around a bunch of millennials. When I try a new sport and see little kids zipping around having no problems. When I look at social media and see the wanderbabes and wanderbros, standing at vistas, hair flowing and in perfect attire, declaring that they could never sit at a desk and that they quit their jobs to travel the world. These moments are many. But not on the trail.
I don't feel old on the trail. Yes, sometimes I have aches and pains, but so do the younger people I hike with. Being in the wilderness is one place I can escape the cult of youth, and society's stereotypes of how we should look and behave to continue to be valid. If I didn't know, when I'm out there I wouldn't know how old I am. I feel like the 21 year old me.
The next time you find yourself saying a statement like one above, try and switch it up. Say, instead, "You're a fast hiker." "You guys seem really fit." "Let's hike together sometime." Or don't say any of those things. Talk about the lake we are looking at, or the clouds in the sky, or the flowers and the reasons you're out there. Trust us, we know we are older than you, and we know we are good hikers: after all, we just reeled you in on the switchbacks.
Let's leave age behind. It's everywhere else. Let's all be the same on the trail.