Sun Lakes Pioneer Hikers reminisce

Barbara Schira, Marge Meredith, Joe Bibler and Veronica Deuce talk about their days on the trail.

Barbara Schira, Marge Meredith, Joe Bibler and Veronica Deuce talk about their days on the trail.

Roberta Arpan

The Sun Lakes Hiking Club is one of the most active and fastest growing organizations in the Sun Lakes community. It was loosely organized in 1987 when a handful of hikers met each week to explore the natural wonders of Arizona. Today, 192 active members are offered as many as four hikes a week. The club also offers several special events throughout the year.

The current success of the SLHC is due, in part, to the endeavors of some of its early members. Four of these pioneers, Marge Meredith, Veronica Deuce, Barbara Schira and Joe Bibler sat down with me recently to discuss their past hiking memories. The age range of this group is 83 to 91.

Veronica, who continues to hike with the Retreads, started hiking as a child; the others started in their mid-‘50s or ‘60s. They all hailed from the Midwest or East Coast and hiking afforded them a rewarding avenue to explore their new home in Arizona. The group agrees that hiking improved their health and gave them lasting friendships. With the diversity of the hikers in their group, they learned interesting tidbits about a variety of topics, a trend that continues today.

Past Club President Joe Bibler reflected the feelings of the group, “Throughout my 91 years, I have been blessed with family, career, curiosity and goal-setting. For sheer pleasure, my 10 years of hiking come to mind often. The exploration, the awesome sights and the absolutely memorable fellow hikers impacted my life strongly. Hiking the canyon in my 70th year was the crowning event of all the magnificent episodes enjoyed every week.” Well stated!

A list of the January hikes follows. For a more complete description and up-to-date information please visit the club’s website at  Carpools meet at the Cottonwood parking lot east of the tennis courts at 7:45 a.m. for an 8:00 a.m. departure. If you have not hiked with the club, you must contact the hike leader before the day of the hike.

Monday Advanced Hikes:

January 4 – Bluff Springs Loop from Peralta Trailhead in Superstition Mountains. Leader Marilyn Harkins; 883-7173.

January 11 – Lost Mine and Pyramid Trails in South Mountain Park. Leader Michael Kenny; 802-5886.

January 18 – Tom’s Thumb Loop in McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Leader Brian Hill; 802-1050.

January 25 – Corona de Loma Trail in South Mountain Park. Leader Doug Chirhart; 883-2834.

Monday Basic Hikes:

January 4 (Retread) – Scenic Trail in McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Leader Bonnie Tasch; 802-2836.

January 11 – (Retread) – K-Mine Trail, a segment of the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail. Leaders Al and Ginny Metz; 895-1868.

January 18 – (Retread) – Brown Ranch Trailhead in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve North. Leaders Kandi Skrabala; 612-3372 and Sherrie Conner; 236-6818.

January 25 (Retread) – Christensen Trail in Phoenix’s North Mountain Park. Leader Stu Frost; 883-8539.

Wednesday Intermediate Hikes:

January 6 – Goat Hill via Telegraph Pass in South Mountain Park. Leader Mike Foerster; 802-0905.

January 13 – (1) Butcher Jones Trail at Saguaro Lake. Leader Jerry Anderson; 489-1639 or (2) Holbert Trail in South Mountain Regional Park. Leader Marilyn Harkins; 883-7173.

January 20 – Metate-Tortuga-Spur Cross Trail Loop at Spur Cross Ranch. Leader Jim Reid; 802-4430.

January 27 – San Tan and Goldmine Trails in San Tan Mountain Park. Leader Dave Friesen; 602-416-1367.

Additional special events hosted by the SLHC include an Orientation Field Trip on January 14. This excursion will take place at Veteran’s Oasis Park in Chandler and is especially designed for new members. Participants will learn safe hiking habits and leadership skills. Carpools will meet in the Cottonwood parking lot at 7:45 a.m. On January 21 at 2:00 p.m. there will be a hike leaders seminar in the Phoenix Room at Cottonwood. This is a mandatory meeting for hike leaders who did not attend the November Hike Leaders’ meeting. And, plan to attend the winter potluck social on January 22 at 6:00 p.m. in the Navajo Room at Sun Lakes Country Club. A donation of $5 for couples and $3 for singles will be collected at the door. The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting will be January 8 at 3:30 p.m. in the Phoenix Room at Cottonwood. Membership dues of $5 must be paid by February 29.

For more information about the SLHC, contact club President Brian Hill at 480-802-1050 or e-mail [email protected] All members are strongly encouraged to sign up on the club’s website given above.