by Dennis Dalman
The weather was cold, but the seniors were brave.
On April 25, 10 senior citizens – most from Sartell – bundled up and took a four-mile hike in the woods at St. John’s University. The temperature that morning was in the low- to mid 30s. Weeks before, when they organized their trek, the seniors assumed spring would be in full bloom by late April. On the chilly morning, only two decided not to go.
“We had a very enjoyable trek,” said organizer Al Meier. “We walked around the lake there and stopped at the Stella Maria Chapel. On the way we saw two eagles’ nests. When the hike was over, we stopped at the Local Blend in St. Joseph for a cup of coffee and sandwiches. We all had a good time, and everybody said we should keep doing the treks.”
Like most of the trekkers, Meier is a member of the Sartell Senior Connection, a group of older people who get together for a wide variety of activities. In recent months, some Connection members mentioned the group should consider starting some physical-activities programs when spring arrives, such as hiking and biking trips.
Meier, who has done lots of hiking and biking in his life, liked the suggestions. He brought the idea to the Connection Board, where it was enthusiastically received. Meier, with input from others, then organized the “Hike-Bike Series.” On the first Thursday of every month, the group and anybody else who wants to come along, will do hikes in interesting and scenic local places. On the third Wednesday of every month, they will go biking on one or more of the many biking trails in the area.
Meier said the next hiking trip will probably take place at Quarry Park in St. Cloud. Other future possibilities are Warner Park and the Sherburne Wildlife Refuge.
On May 16, a biking ride is planned that will start at Holdingford and end at Bowlus, where members, if they wish, can enjoy lunch at a cafe at the biking trailhead in Bowlus. In June, the group will take a bike trip on the Wobegon Trail, starting in St. Joseph and ending in Avon or, for the more adventurous, further down the trail in Albany.
“Our trips are not limited to people in Sartell or just for seniors,” Meier said. “Anybody can come. It’s for anybody who wants to get out and get some exercise.”
For the St. John’s hiking trip, the walkers met at 10:30 am. at the Senior Connection headquarters in the Sartell School District Services building. Then, in three cars, they drove to the St. John’s campus where the hike began.
During upcoming trips, they plan to car-pool again. Meier has bike carriers and a pickup with which to bring bicycles for the biking trips. Others may also be able to strap bikes into trunks or on their vehicles to transport them.
“We will go at a slower pace than most people when we hike or bike,” Meier said. “We just want to be in the outdoors and have some fun while getting some exercise.”
Meier has been retired eight years from his job at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud. His wife, Rita, who also enjoys hiking-biking, is a retired Sartell Middle School nurse.
For more information about the “Hike-Bike Series,” including times and dates, call Meier at 320-252-8830.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.