I thought I would do something different in this article and profile a couple of senior hikers that I have hiked with over the years. I believe you will find their stories inspirational.
The first hiker is Ted Williams. Ted was born in Denver, CO, and has a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He retired from teaching at the University of Arizona in 1987. Ted first started hiking at the tender age of 14 in CO. He has hiked his entire life along with walking every day. Ted hikes two to three times per week. His hikes range from four miles to 16 miles with elevation gains of 1,000 to 4,500 feet. Many of his hikes include lots of climbing and scrambling over boulders. It takes skill and determination, since there are no trails. His favorite hike is Bridge Mountain in Red Rock Canyon. Ted has survived shoulder surgery on both shoulders and a back surgery.
Ted hikes to meet interesting people, stay in shape, the challenges, and to help others make dramatic changes in their lives. Ted is a leader for the 52 Peak Club here in Las Vegas. This is the elite hiking club that helps its members get into great shape and overcome their fears. Ted and other leaders help members of the 52 Peak Club achieve their goals.
Ted’s advice to new hikers is, “Start at your current level. Stay positive and go with those who stretch your horizons. Nothing this challenging comes without an occasional setback. Keep focused on the longer-term. The rewards in terms of your health and outlook will be well worth the effort.” Ted is 76 and still going strong. He is a 53er. Hikers earn the title of 53er by climbing the most challenging 52 peaks around the Las Vegas area. It entails hiking over 300 miles and climbing over 120,000 feet, that’s more than 8,000 flights of stairs.
Rita Wagner is our second hiker. Born in Innsbruck Austria, Rita has lived in the United States for 50 years. She lived in Dana Point, CA, for a number of years surfing and enjoying the ocean. Professionally she was an Oncology nurse for 20 years.
Rita started hiking when her husband of 41 years passed away. She has only been hiking for five years, but immediately became addicted to it. Her first peak was Kraft Mountain in Red Rock Canyon. Since that hike her rock scrambling skills have improved tremendously. Her favorite hike is White Pinnacle Peak in Red Rock.
Rita’s advice to new hikers is don’t quit after your first hike. She says, “On my first hike I was scared of exposure and rock scrambling was difficult. I changed my mindset and started thinking I needed to push myself to try a little harder and get to higher peaks.” She feels with the help of great hiking leaders and other fellow hikers, any beginner can accomplish great hikes and enjoy the beauty of the peaks.
Rita was the first female 53er. She obtained the goal at the age of 73 on May 4th, 2012. Since then she has gone onto many other adventures such as canyoneering, climbing Mt. Whitney (the highest peak in the lower 48 states) and rock climbing.
Hike of the Month:
Bristlecone Trail is best done in the fall when the leaves are changing. It’s a loop hike that does not have a lot of elevation gain, which is good for beginners. Of course, you do not have to do the entire loop. It’s well marked and easy to follow.
Hike: Bristlecone Trail
Trailhead: Upper parking lot at Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort – marked
Distance: 5 miles — round trip
Elevation gain: 600 feet
Time: 3 to 4 hours – round trip
How easy to follow: 1
Best season: Summer and early fall
Driving directions: From Las Vegas take U.S. 95 north 28 miles to State Route 156. Go left (west) on 156 and drive 18 mile to the end of the road at Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort. Park at the far (west) end of the parking lot. The marked trailhead is on the west side. The kiosk is located within the first 25 yards of the start of the trail. +