Outdoor Oldies love to take a hike Club combines exercise with nature CARROLL COUNTY SENIORS

September 01, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

When the Outdoor Oldies nature club formed at Westminster Senior Center six months ago, Helen Englar stepped right in.

"I thought, 'Why not join a group of people with the same interests?' " she said. "It gets us all out of the house."

Members of the new club for Carroll seniors are putting on their walking shoes and heading outdoors, where they study and enjoy the environment together.

A retiree and former member of the Mountain Club of Maryland, Ms. Englar said she has always found walking an energizing exercise. Although back problems prevent her from doing steep climbs, she likes to hike along the nature trails in the county parks.

She said she prefers the safety of a group to solitude.

"You could trip or sprain your ankle," she said. "You need at least one other person with you."

Like many exercise programs, group work adds motivation, said Phyllis Schroeder of Eldersburg, who joined the club with her husband.

"Hiking can be boring by yourself," she said. "The group gives us more incentive and is making the outdoors more enjoyable."

On the first Wednesday of the month at the Westminster Senior Center, club members hear a guest speaker -- usually on an environmental topic -- and plan their hike for the third Wednesday.

Once they have decided where to walk, Ms. Englar, accompanied by her son, often scouts the path the club will take.

"Somebody should know the trails and be familiar with where we are going," she said. "We try to find the more level trails."

Today, Steve McDaniel will discuss honey bees and beekeeping at 1 p.m. Other topics have included water quality, greenways and wildflowers, which members later identified along the trails.

"The walks give a great chance to study the flowers," said Ruth McKay of Finksburg.

Ms. Englar also is an avid bird watcher who can point out different species to the other walkers, said Ms. Schwinn.

Often, the guest speaker shows slides of some local site.

"We have had speakers from both Piney Run and Hashawha," said Nancy Schwinn of Hampstead. "They gave us a great preview for our hikes."

So far, the group, which has about a dozen members, has not ventured outside Carroll County.

"We are fortunate to have such lovely places to walk in this county," said Ms. Schwinn. "My first walk was along the nature trail at Piney Run Park, and there were so many sights I hadn't seen before."

Although several senior groups walk in the county's malls, Ms. Schwinn prefers the outdoors.

"I am interested in environmental things like trees, birds and plants," she said. "There is a lot more than shop windows to look at outside."

And walking is one of the easier and better exercises for seniors, she said.

"Our hikes are not long or strenuous; we do less than two hours at a time," she said. "We all feel better afterward, too."

The hikes begin at 11 a.m. Members usually bring a lunch and top off their exercise with a picnic in the park.

A recent hike at the Carroll County Farm Museum took walkers a little longer than usual because everyone stopped to sample wineberries.

Clothing is "entirely what you want to wear," said Ms. Englar.

Club members recommend long sleeves and slacks, to foil bugs. Ms. Schwinn always accents her outfit with a funny hat.

"This club is a wonderful, growing group," said Pauline Vigeveno of Westminster. "All the outside activities are so worthwhile."

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