On an overcast Wednesday morning a group of intrepid hikers met at Indian Canyon Golf Course.
They are the Sloth Hiking group, and their motto is “We’ll get there when we get there.” An offshoot of the Hobnailer hiking club, they weren’t there to scale any peaks.
“The younger friskier members of the club hike 6 to 7 miles every Wednesday and Sunday. They even go up steep hills,” explained Claudia Craven. “So, some of the members who are slowing down a little, but still want to want to get out and about and enjoy nature at a slower, saner pace have banded together for shorter, flatter hikes.”
The Sloths hike about 3 to 4 miles twice a week, and keep the hills to a minimum.
“Sometimes we meet with the larger group – we call them mountain goats – and then let them take off like bats out of hell while we sloth away,” said Craven. “Sometimes we go somewhere entirely different.”
On this particular Wednesday the Hobnailers were hiking Mica Peak.
“Like Nancy Reagan, we just said no,” Craven said.
Instead, 14 Sloths ranging in age from 60 to 86, carpooled to Indian Canyon to take a more leisurely stroll. Several brought their dogs.
The cloudy sky didn’t faze anyone.
“We don’t let weather keep us back,” said Sandy Eberly. “And we favor dirt and rock trails.”
They do adapt the schedule to the time of year.
“We meet earlier in the summer and later in the winter,” Susan Kurtz said.
She and Elnora Wildermuth, 86, plan most of the hikes.
“We have so many wonderful hiking trails in the Spokane area,” Kurtz said.
The Sloths don’t use maps or GPS.
“We have Elnora,” said Kurtz
Then she admitted, “We have been known to be a little lost.”
“We’re not lost. We’re just exploring,” she said. “We’ve never had to call 911!”
Georgia Krueger said her favorite hikes are where woods and water abound.
“It’s so fun being outdoors and seeing different places,” she said.
From Bear Lake County Park to Iller Creek in Dishman Hills Conservation Area, the group has covered a lot of ground. Members recalled finding huckleberries and spotting a bald eagle. The Sloths spotted a hawk on this particular hike.
“When the bitterroot is in bloom at Turnbull, it looks like Monet’s garden,” said Kurtz.
More than just the exercise and the scenery, the group enjoys the friendships forged along the trails. They often enjoy a cup of coffee after their hikes. That’s what they missed most during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There were a couple months that we didn’t meet,” Wildermuth said.
When they did resume they kept their carpool groups smaller, and some wore masks.
As part of the Hobnailers, the Sloths track their hiking miles. Wildermuth has logged 11,000 miles, but said during COVID-19, “We didn’t count mileage.”
For the Sloths the point has never been about numbers or speed.
“During flower season we’ve been known to do 37-minute miles,” Craven said.
That’s because they take time to smell the roses along the way. And that’s what drew newer member Carole LaCombe to the group.
“We look at all the flowers and enjoy the view,” she said. “That’s just not possible when you’re going as fast as you can.”
Cindy Hval can be reached at email@example.com
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