Take a Hike


I love walking and I do that regularly, but when I have tried going to the next level of hiking, I have not done so well. It turns out; I am not the only one. “I was in such a rut of working, cooking, eating, talking, sleeping and working,” says Katherine, age 55, “I wanted to take a vacation devoted to helping me put walking and hiking back into my life.”

Particularly for the inexperienced at any age, hiking with a group is safer since the route is pre-selected and fully checked out, and make sure your guide is trained in first aide training, just in case. Whichever type of program you consider, it is always a good idea to ask for the contact information from at least two previous participants. Pay attention to the difficulty ratings on different hikes and be honest with yourself; select your trips according to your current physical ability, not where you hope to be.

Together, Katherine and I made a master list of a few day hikes and backpacking weekend trips, along with some one-to-two-week trips for her to consider. Hiking with a group is a great way to make friends, achieve new goals, and enjoy beautiful locations all over the United States.

Yellowstone Association

The Yellowstone Association is part of the Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (registrar@yellowstoneassociation.org; 307-344-2293; tuition rates vary by class). This is a nonprofit group educating Yellowstone National Park visitors through field seminars taught by experts. Select from guided wildlife-watching, ed-ventures featuring a wide variety of educational (and often physical) immersion programs, and backpacking courses, which literally walk you through the park.

Yosemite Camping Out in Style

High Sierra Camps (Yosemite National Park, P.O. Box 577, Yosemite, CA 95389; 559-253-5674; Accommodations; about $136 per night includes family-style dinner and breakfast; guided hikes, and children’s rates). Hike any part of the backcountry wilderness, 53 miles of the High Sierra Trail accessible by foot or horse, with five campsites about 6 to 10 miles apart. Housing is in canvas-tent cabins with dormitory-style beds with mattresses, pillows, and woolen blankets or comforters provided. Demand is high and trips must be planned well in advance. Applications are available until November 30 and all are submitted for a yearly lottery. Hikers provide their own linen, including sleep-sacks and towels. Showers and restrooms are dependent upon water levels.

Shelley’s High Sierra Camp Story

“At age 60, I probably hold the record as the slowest hiker ever, but I make couldn’t have been so bad since I made it from place to place in time for all of my meals along the designated route, and that was worth it (https://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/high-sierra-camps/high-sierra-camp-lottery/). Since I was a kid, I have wanted to hike and camp out in the wilderness by myself. Whenever I set about achieving my goal, naysayers, including myself, worried about my getting lost and my overall safety. There is no way I could carry a tent, cooking gear, and the required, extremely heavy bear-proof container that needed hoisting into a tree for safekeeping at many different locations.

“Then my grandson read about Yosemite’s campsites, which offered us both the freedom and support I needed. We shared cabin space, he hiked with youngsters, I made friends who were more my own speed, and we absolutely loved having the time together to share a great experience.”


When I first heard about Fatpacking and Fitpacking, I simply thought these were descriptive words combining hiking and backpacking to get in shape and lose weight. What a great idea! Initially I did not realize that Fatpacking is a company offering backpacking trips, one-day hikes, and one-to-two week trips in national parks. Their slogan is to “Get fit, lose fat, have fun.” Hiking and backpacking are great ways to jumpstart your fitness level, build muscle, and burn fat. Consult their website for information on the fitness levels needed for different trips, sample menus, and fees.

Denise, age 55, went Fatpacking through Acadia National Park, Maine, and “loved feeling more fit each day and lost four pounds. I made great friends, learned far more reasonable portion sizes, and cleaned out all of the junk food in my kitchen the minute I returned home.”  Where will you be hiking? State and city parks are often a great way to work up to larger and longer challenges. Please share below your favorite places to hike in the spring, summer and fall. Happy Trails.

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