600 hikes and counting: Fortuna Senior Hiking Group explores trails, beaches, back ro

Fortuna Senior Hiking Group explores trails, beaches, back roads

A large group of hikers gathered together on Sept. 6 to take part in the Fortuna Senior Hiking Group’s 600th excursion. (Nancy Spruance — Contributed)
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Fortuna Senior Hiking Group members have been hitting their stride for 12 years and, on Sept. 6, they celebrated a major step in the group’s history.

On that day, the Fortuna Senior Hiking Group embarked on its 600th hike — a six-mile, round-trip trek from River Lodge in Fortuna to the Van Duzen River.

“The walk along the Eel River … was in still air with overcast skies that gave our path the beautiful subtle colors of a watercolor,” said Nancy Spruance, who regularly takes photographs of the group’s active adventures.

Fortuna Senior Hiking Group outings — which first started in February 2007 — are held most Friday mornings and are open to adults 50 and older in good hiking health.

“… The then-director of Fortuna Seniors, Mary Ann Bansen, called a meeting for anyone interested in forming a hiking group. Twenty-two turned out, but it was apparent the majority thought a walking group was the intention; the hikers numbered fewer than six,” said Lynn Crosthwait, one of four from the original group of hikers who are still involved in the Fortuna Senior Hiking Group. She also serves as the group’s hike planner.

“From that beginning,” Crosthwait said, “the group has grown to 25 or more over-50 men and women from various Humboldt locations who show up on Friday mornings to hike six to ten miles round trip.”

“It is a fun group,” she added, “because all are united by a common interest in exploring trails, beaches and back roads throughout Humboldt and into southern Del Norte and because we know we are blessed to be retired and living in this place of so much natural beauty that is accessible by day hikes.”

Fortuna Senior Hiking Group members took a detour through a corn field heading for Sandy Prairie Road as part of the Sept. 6 hike. (Nancy Spruance — Contributed)

Spruance joined the group in 2009 when she was 72 years old.

“My first hike was on Arcata Forest trails where I learned how fit this group of senior hikers really was,” Spruance said. “That’s when the saying, ‘No rest for the weary,’ came to mind. I’ve had occasion to mutter that to myself numerous times since.

Spruance added: “Hiking is fun with this group because of the friendships I’ve developed and the opportunity to be in nature and to learn new things.  I look forward to Fridays and whatever shared adventure the day may bring.”

It’s estimated the Fortuna Senior Hiking Group has accumulated more than 4,200 miles since its inception. In 600 hikes, some favorite destinations, Crosthwait said, have included the trails in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, the Coastal Trail in Del Norte County, Bear River Ridge, Dolason Prairie, Butler Valley Road, Eel River Estuary Preserve, Punta Gorda, Redwood House Road and Bear Harbor.

“I think each hiker has their own favorite hiking spots in the county,” said Spruance. “Some love ocean views and the beach; some love the peacefulness of walking beneath towering redwoods; some love to explore back country roads, while others enjoy nothing more than the challenge of climbs to vistas of peaks and ridges in our county’s wilderness areas.”

For more information about the Fortuna Senior Hiking Group and about upcoming hikes, call 707-725-7953.

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