Hen Hike 2016

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You know how when you get back from a vacation you say you’re so tired that you need a vacation? I’ve been back for a week, and I’m just now coming up for air. It wasn’t the rigorous exercise of hiking up through woods to the top of a ski mountain. It wasn’t the five –7 or so miles we walked each day. It wasn’t the stress of traveling to Canada with having to deal with getting to the airport 2 hours early and fiddling with customs. It wasn’t the yackity yack of 12 women all talking at once all day long, but a combination of all this, plus the sheer joy in doing it.

I have written about our famous Hen Hikes before. Search for Hen Hike 1 in this blog to catch up. I have even created a 22-minute speech about this unique group of women, most of whom are seniors, and half of whom are blind, and I’ve presented it at various retirement meetings and blindness conventions. My Toastmasters training has taught me to love it. (Shameless plug. Call me if you need a speaker for your club.) But let me tell you about some highlights of this year’s hike. First, we hiked near Collingwood in Ontario Canada, a first venture outside the country. My dream is to hike in England, maybe for our 20th anniversary, but this was only our 18th. Imagine. I was only 53 when I started this group with a Ski for Light friend, Julie. We’ve hiked in New England, Minnesota, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and New York. When we get too old to negotiate the rocks and roots on the muddy trails, we might hike through the shops in New York City or on a cruise ship.

On our first day, we had our picnic lunch by Lake Huron, enjoying the sound of the waves as they greeted the shore. Our sighted guides spotted a large creature in the water, and there was much discussion about whether it was some kind of odd fish or turtle or some other native animal. A local man walking by informed us that it was a rock. Boy, did we feel like foolish tourists. On the second day, we hiked up hills to thrilling views of the lake and the valleys below. On the third day, we hiked up a trail to the top of a ski run, and then we took the gondola down the mountain side. Even for those of us who couldn’t enjoy the vistas as we sailed over the tree tops, it was a delightful ride. The man operating the gondola was so taken by our charm that he offered to let us ride up and back again for free. We had walked up, but since the ride down was free, and trying to walk back down that steep and rocky slope was not appealing, we hopped on. If you ride up, it costs$16 apiece, unless you’re a group of women who act like they’re having the time of their lives. On the next day, we discovered a memorial garden in the woods. Only The markers were tall stemmed flowers made of concrete with names engraved on the petals. It was a peaceful place to stop and rest, as we had done 7 miles that day. Each day had its unique experience and joy. Each night, my legs, hips, and back were killing me, but a soak in the hot tub was a huge help. For the next several days after my return, I had to drag myself through the day. Funny how that works. If I had had 11 other women with me, and we were hiking, I don’t think I’d be tired at all.

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