Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Going on vacation? Why not take a hike?

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Greg Peck
Monday, May 19, 2014

The story in the American Profile section included in today's Gazette caught my attention. Tracey Minkin interviewed world-record hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis to offer readers advice and inspiration. The story, previewing the June 7 National Trails Day, included 10 suggested hikes.

My wife, Cheryl, and I have enjoyed day hikes on vacations for the past decade or so. One of our first was three miles down and three miles back up the stunning South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon. That led us to hike almost 80 miles in 10 days in southern Utah's five amazing national parks a couple of years later. Last fall, we hiked up and down Mount Monadnock in southern New Hampshire. 

I've read two remarkable hiking books already this year—“Wild,” about Cheryl Strayed's hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, and Bill Bryson's “A Walk in the Woods” on the Appalachian Trail. Both were New York Times bestsellers.

Funny thing is, Cheryl and I have never done any of the 10 hikes on that list in American Profile, though we've been close to four of them. Two years ago we walked to various waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, but we didn't do the Half Dome Day Hike. A photo accompanying Minkin's story shows the challenging final stretch, including cables and ladders. Cheryl and I hiked two trails in South Dakota's Custer State Park—our first nature hikes and jaunts that inspired our Grand Canyon hike—but we didn't consider the Bear Butte Summit Trail in Bear Butte State Park, S.D. We did brief hikes along Virginia's Blueridge Parkway but missed the Old Rag Hike in Shenandoah National Park. We took the cog railway to the top of New Hampshire's Mount Washington but didn't try that mountain's 8.4-mile Tuckerman Ravine Trail.

Some of our hikes have created some of our best vacation memories. I'll be tearing out that American Profile story and tucking it in my vacation file for future reference. Some of them might be too strenuous for us given our ages and fitness levels, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy parts of them.

Do you do any hiking? Any plans to do so this summer? What was your favorite?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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