Category Archives: Nordic Walking

Doing Stuff Outdoors-107


Raul and Caroline Aguiar with their dog Whiskey

Raul and Caroline Aguiar with their dog Whiskey

Rancho La Bellota is a 2800 acre horse ranch located just 40 miles south of the Tecate, California border and 75 miles south of the San Diego, California border in Baja California, Mexico. The ranch offers exciting trail rides and scenic exploration for all levels of riders, all of which are geared towards specific scenic destinations. Ride through shady oak groves, hidden water pools, quiet secluded valleys and vast mountain ranges as you step back in time to the days when man needed only a good horse, his dog and the simplicities of nature to round out a good day. Our feature interview today is with Caroline Aguiar of Baja Rancho La Bellota.

In our ‘Runners’ segment Gary meets a former runner who is now a hard-core Nordic Walker. He had to quit running after an injury and now more than makes up for it with his ‘pole walking’.

Gary also talks about his recent three day hike of the Dobson Trail in New Brunswick and we have music on the show by Cameron Latimer of British Columbia. Contact Doing Stuff Outdoors with your comments and outdoor adventures at


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Filed under Adventure, Dobson Trail, Horse, Mexico, Nordic Walking, Outdoors, Trail Riding

Doing Stuff Outdoors-26



Our feature interview today is with Rex McInvale of Canton, Georgia. He tells us about an outdoor experience he had in Wyoming. Here’s the way Rex described the trip….

Last August, five friends and I hiked a modest loop in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. (We were just south of where the fellow mapped the section for Backpacker.) We started from the Big Sandy trail head and hiked through the Cirque of the Towers over Jackass Pass and Texas Pass. For most hikers, the Cirque is a destination, or something you pass by. I found a few references to an unmarked trail over one of the high passes and decided our trip should cross the Continental Divide twice.

Living — and playing outside — in the North Georgia mountains, all of us were accustomed to hiking well used and established trails. A cross country route, with a known beginning, a known end, and lots of question marks in between was exciting to say the least. Plus, it gave us the opportunity to pack as much “wow” into our limited time as we could.

As the trip planner, I was the most familiar with the route. When we arrived in the Cirque for our first night’s camp, we were beaten down. Altitude and a very strenuous hike over extreme terrain and the largest boulder field I had seen to that point (It would be bested the following day.) had taken their collective toll on our weary band. I had hiked the last few miles with the least experienced of our group — an avid cyclist, but he was on probably his fourth hike ever. I showed him the snow covered pass on the far side of the Cirque that we would go over the following day. Later that night he went to pump water from Lonesome Lake, which we thought to be 200-400 yards away. It turned out to be closer to two miles away. As he and another of our group pumped water, a deer ambushed them and spooked them pretty badly. While they were recovering from the scare, he confessed that I had shown him where we were going the next day and said, “Dude, we might die.”. They made their way back in the dark as, in camp, the rest of us plotted the progress of the tiny flickers of their headlamps.

The day that followed was one undoubtedly the best day of hiking I have ever experienced. I am not a climber, but I love to hike up mountains if I can do it safely. After making our way around Lonesome Lake and stopping there for lunch, we started one serious climb from 10,100 feet to 11,500 feet. We started out in low brush and stunted trees. That gave way to grass and then to the most unbelievable boulder field I have ever seen. There were house and car sized boulders for at least 1,000 vertical feet up. We had to follow ducks (cairns) and frequently had to backtrack to the last duck to find the next. If you’ve ever looked for a stack of granite in a huge sea of granite, you can understand the challenge. Eventually, we reached several high meadows before the grass and wildflowers gave way to snow and finally Texas Pass on the Continental Divide. Standing on the Divide for the second time in as many days is awesome! Then the really scary part started…..

We now had to get back down to 10,700 feet and the valley floor on the other side of the pass. We had to lose almost as much vertical as we had just climbed, but in less than 1/4 of the distance. The north side of Texas Pass is essentially a scree field on about a 60 degree slope. A secure footing could almost not be found. We slid from switchback to switchback for most of the distance. Again, we had to find the ducks previous hikers had left and work out for ourselves the best way down. Doing this with a pack does not make for a confident hiker! When we finally reached the valley floor and Texas Lake, one of our group stripped to his underwear and leaped off a house sized boulder into the lake.

We camped at Billy’s Lake that night. The following morning we broke camp early and tried to beat the thunderstorms to our final camp at Dad’s Lake. Now facing west, looking out over Wyoming’s high desert for hundreds of miles, we could watch the weather roll in. Storms in the Cirque and the Washakie basin to our north sounded like military artillery. It was surreal. But, we made it to our camp and amazingly dodged the bullet on the weather. The rest of the trip was a relatively easy, slow descent back to Big Sandy.

We begin a new feature today called ‘Where To Do Stuff’. We’ll check in with Sunday River ski area in Maine, the first to open in the northeast for the season.

Podsafe music on the show from Bob Hughes and some of your comments including one from Claire Walter about Nordic Walking.

Be sure to check out the Doing Stuff Outdoors website for regular blog posts and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes . Call in your outdoor adventures and story ideas to the comments line at 206-600-4557 and email the show at

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Filed under Adventure, Hiking, Maine, Nordic Walking, Outdoors, Skiing, Sunday River, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Pole Walking


My wife and I tried some ‘Pole Walking’ the other day and we liked it. You’ve probably seen people doing this before because it’s become very popular. They look a little odd, like cross country skiers without the skis and without any snow. The proper name for this sport and growing fitness trend is Nordic Walking. It began in Finland back in the 1930’s when x-country skiers trained with their ski poles in the summer. Now it’s a huge fitness activity in Europe and it’s spreading throughout the world. And this summer it seems to have exploded around here.

There were quite a few Nordic Walkers at the Canada Day Half Marathon in Grand Bay-Westfield this summer. There were plenty more at Marathon by the Sea where Nordic Walking had a separate category in the event for the first time. But beyond the races people are taking it up just for fun and fitness.

I’ve heard about the benefits of Nordic Walking for some time and I’ve talked to people involved in the sport. Daryl Steeves is an exercise physiologist and Nordic Walking enthusiast. In fact he won in his age category in the Nordic Walking event at Marathon by the Sea. He told me it’s a better overall fitness workout that just walking because you bring your upper body into the workout. You use the poles to propel yourself forward and by doing that you’re toning those upper body muscles and you’re burning more calories. Experts say up to 40% more calories than walking. Daryl says you get the equivalent workout of a jog without all the pounding and best of all, with the poles you don’t feel like you’re working as hard. He calls it four-wheeling for the feet. You can hear an interview with Daryl Steeves and other Nordic Walkers on the podcast Doing Stuff Outdoors-13. Find it at

The queen of Nordic Walking in the Saint John area is Yennah Hurley. She started a club called ‘Walking Proud’ and they go Nordic Walking five nights a week from different locations. You can find out more about the club and she has some great links to other Nordic Walking sites at

After seeing the Nordic Walkers at all these events this summer I wanted to give it a try. I know a lot about ski poles because as an avid x-country, downhill and backcountry skier, I’ve used the things all my life. More recently I’ve taken to using poles when I go hiking. I’ve found them to be a terrific asset on the trail especially if you’re lugging around a heavy backpack. They help propel you on the up hills and even more important, they take a lot of stress off your knees and legs on the down hills. And they’re great for helping you balance, especially over rough terrain and crossing streams. So it only made sense to me that they’d be a terrific asset to walking.

My wife Teresa and I do a lot of walking together and we figured it would be fun to try. We don’t own official Nordic Walking poles but with a basement full of old ski poles I picked out a couple pairs and we headed for the trail. Normally we walk from home but both of us were a little shy about being seen in public walking down the street with a pair of ski poles so we drove to one end of the trail and there, hidden from the street by the trees, we began out experiment with Nordic Walking. Besides the steel tips on the poles wouldn’t have worked very well on the pavement but they were great on the trail.
At first it was strange getting used to them because hiking with poles is somewhat different than using them for fitness walking. But once you get into the rhythm of it you can really propel yourself along with the poles, much the way you do in x-c skiing. There’s no doubt you get a good upper body workout because after the walk we could both feel it in our arms. I really did enjoy it and I think Teresa did too. I liked it better then straight walking. And for skiers it’s great training too for the coming season.

I think we’re on our way to becoming Nordic Walkers. We may even be tempted to pick up a pair of those fancy, adjustable walking poles with the rubber tips for pavement. And I’m sure we’ll eventually get used to those smart comments from passers-by like ‘where’s the snow’ and ‘did you forget your skis’.

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Filed under Adventure, Grand Bay-Westfield, Marathon, Nordic Walking, Outdoors, Walking

Doing Stuff Outdoors-22



On the show today we have a feature interview with Don Peer a 73 year old sailor and wooden boat builder from Nova Scotia. Gary met up with him earlier in the summer when he was out sailing in a maritime built wooden work boat he rigged up with sails. They talk about the joys of sailing and being on the water and cruising the Mediterranean Sea in a boat he designed himself. Don also tells Gary about the art of sculling with a single oar.

Gary and his wife Teresa also try out the sport of Nordic Walking with some old ski poles they found in the basement. And Gary’s kayaking buddy Dennis Hickey is driven to poetry by a particularly inspiring outdoor adventure.

Podsafe music this week from the Dust Rhinos and the Redding Brothers.

Be sure to check out the Doing Stuff Outdoors website and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes . Call in your outdoor adventures and story ideas to the comments line at 206-600-4557 and email the show at

Next week … a special show all about Orienteering.

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Filed under Adventure, Boating, Kayaking, Nordic Walking, Outdoors, Sailing, Uncategorized, Walking

Run With It


As I write this, it’s the day before Marathon by the Sea. This is the 13th year for the annual marathon in Saint John. I volunteered to help organize the very first one and I ran the half marathon that year. It was my first. Since then I’ve run the half in this event a few times and I’ve completed the full marathon twice. It’s been a few years since I last ran in this race but tomorrow I’ll be tackling the half marathon course one more time.

I made the decision to run in the marathon earlier in the summer. I hadn’t really thought much about it and I didn’t plan to go in any organized race this year. These days my running is limited to regular but relatively short and fairly slow runs, mainly as a way of trying to keep in shape. But since committing to the race I’ve had to focus more on my training and the truth is I haven’t done that well. I’m sure I’ll be able to finish the course but it’ll probably be the slowest half marathon I’ve ever run. I can’t remember what my previous times were and I’m not looking them up because I don’t want to know. This run tomorrow will be just for the sake of doing it. Nothing more.

The last time I participated in this event was a few years ago and I ran the full 26-mile marathon. That was and will probably be my last. It was the year we had a torrential downpour during the race. There had been little rain all summer and it all came that day. Lighting was crashing all over and in some places we were running through several inches of water. It was nasty. I was running with someone who was doing the half and decided if the rain didn’t stop by the turnaround point for the half, I’d cut my run short and continue with him. About a half kilometre before that spot the skies cleared and the sun actually came out. I ran on and as you’d expect the clouds and rain returned. About mile 20 or 21 I hit the famous ‘wall’ big time and was all but spent. I was quickly running out of steam. Ahead of me I saw a man standing by the side of the road. I ran up to him and he asked if I’d like a banana. I took the banana, ate it, walked for a while and then continued the marathon to the end. I’m convinced without that banana I might not have finished. I think of that a lot and would like to thank that mystery man. Maybe he was an angel? I hope I don’t need a banana to help me finish tomorrow.

It’s now the evening of marathon day as I write this and the 13th Annual Marathon by the Sea is history. It was a great race as it always is. Well over a thousand runners, walkers and nordic walkers participated this year. The race started in a typical Saint John fog but the sun quickly burned it off. There were some inspirational runs. A visually impaired woman is celebrating her 65th year by running in half marathons all across Canada. Marathon by the Sea was her second. A group of six high school students joined a program that took them from being non-runners to completing the marathon in 20 weeks. Some even placed in their age classes. And local running legend Alex Coffin won the marathon for a record sixth time.

As for me… well I finished the half without any problems. My time was a little slower than previous races but satisfactory. I’m stiff and sore and tired right now. And this time I didn’t need a banana to finish the race.

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Filed under Adventure, Marathon, New Brunswick, Nordic Walking, Outdoors, Running, Walking

Doing Stuff Outdoors-20



This is the marathon edition of Doing Stuff Outdoors. If you’ve never run a full or half marathon before this podcast will give you a taste of what it’s like. Gary is running the half marathon event at Marathon by the Sea in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. He takes his audio recorder along to capture some of the behind the scenes excitement as competitors wait at the starting line for the race to begin. We’ll meet first time runners, nordic-walkers, even a family running the 10 km event while pushing their baby in a stroller. Gary also records his comments as he runs the 13 mile course and after the race he’ll talk to fellow runners and the winner of the full marathon. It’s someone regular listeners to this podcast will know.

Call the comments line with the story of your best or worst race at 206-600-4557. You can email us at
And if you haven’t done so already please subscribe through iTunes .

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Filed under Adventure, Marathon, Nordic Walking, Outdoors, Running, Walking

Doing Stuff Outdoors-13



This is a special summer edition of Doing Stuff Outdoors. Today we look at only one topic, the relatively new fitness craze of Nordic Walking. It’s like cross-country skiing without the skis. Nordic Walking is a low-stress exercise technique that involves the use of walking poles to engage the legs and upper body in a total body workout. The activity has clinically demonstrated physical and psychological benefits.

We’ll talk to Daryl Steeves, a coach and trainer who’s been advocating Nordic Walking as a fitness activity for a long time. We’ll also meet two Nordic Walkers, Marilyn Inch and Denise Meahan who are in training for a Nordic Walking Marathon.

Also on the show some podsafe music from Brothers in Stereo.

Contact us with your thoughts and comments at and be sure to check out our website at

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Filed under Adventure, Nordic Walking, Outdoors