SHERIDAN — Steve Stresky has hiked the Weminuche Wilderness Area in southern Colorado, areas in the Wyoming Bighorns, the Sierra Madre Mountains and the northern Cascades in the state of Washington. He has climbed three volcanoes and skied Mount Hood, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helen and Mount Rainier. Last fall, Stresky completed hiking the 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a venture that took him 203 days.
This year, Stresky has teamed up with the Sheridan Senior Center to lead several hikes as part of the center’s fun program. The invitation was by the Senior Center’s “Director of Fun,” Jane Perkins.
“We’re always looking for new ways to do things,” Perkins said.
Perkins knew of Stresky’s venture along the Appalachian and asked him if he would be willing to lead hikes organized through the Senior Center. The center has offered day hikes for years.
“But we know of only some trails,” Perkins said. “And Steve knows of more. He has such enthusiasm for the outdoors.”
Perkins also approached the Wyoming Wilderness Association about the possibility of teaming up on some of their organization’s hikes that would be appealing to older hikers.
“They (WWA) know of more trails than we do plus they have trail guides who know the area. The hike becomes an educational experience, too,” Perkins said. The match was made between the association, Stresky, and the Senior Center.
Stresky led a “First Day of Spring” hike through the Senior Center’s activities program on March 20.
“We had about five people on that hike,” said Stresky, who is leading a second hike May 8 under the Senior Center’s spring activities schedule.
The Senior Center’s summer hiking program has six hikes arranged beginning June 6. Stresky will be the guide for five of the six hikes and the WWA has teamed up on two of these hikes.
A hike into the Rock Creek area in August gives hikers the option to hike for a day or to stay overnight. This hike is being offered in partnership with Stresky and the WWA and will be led by Stresky and WWA member, Julie Greer.
The Senior Center’s hikes are designed for a few hours and catered to older hikers.
“Nothing too strenuous,” Stresky said.
The second hike on June 30 is a hike into the Dry Creek Petrified Forest outside of Buffalo.
“This will be a really easy one,” Stresky said.
The Dry Creek hike is appealing to individuals wanting to taste the hiking experience for the first time.
Stresky will also be teaming up with members from the WWA to lead an intergenerational hike to South Piney Canyon in July. The hike will include local Girl Scouts and older hikers.
“Age is not a factor on the trail,” Stresky said, referring to his experience on the Appalachian Trail. But his observation is not necessarily restricted to that ambitious hike.
Stresky observed that hikers on the Appalachian ranged in age from 20s to 70s.
“There was a woman I met in Tennessee who was 71 was hiking the entire (Appalachian) trail,” said Stresky. “She started in Georgia like I did and she was a much stronger hiker than I am. I never saw her again.”
Stresky estimated that the average age was 68 to 69 years old.
“The mental aspect is easier for older hikers but not so much for the younger hikers in their 20s. The older hiker has a more simpler goal in mind: they just want to see if they can do it,” Stresky said.
Stresky is 61 and an embodiment for Older Americans Month’s theme, “Age Out Loud!”
The Senior Center’s summer hiking program offers opportunities for outdoor activities while a major section of the Senior Center is under construction this summer.
For individuals not inclined to hikes, the Senior Center also offers the loan of bicycles and a casual “inspired walker” or bicyclist group.
By Lois Bell
Sheridan Senior Center