A walk to remember

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Sequim Gazette

Looking for a gift for the 70-year-old who has everything?

Consider taking the lead of Scott and Stacey Meinzen, who recently gave Scott’s mom, Joanne Meinzen, a walk in the park.


Not just any walk and not just any park but a 19-mile, three-day jaunt through the wild and woolly outback of Olympic National Park.


Joanne, who has lived in Sequim for 14 years, already had enjoyed a lively celebration with 30 friends and family members storming her home for her big day. To accommodate the crowd, Joanne set up a “tent suite” in the backyard. For the big meal, they used “the garage cafe,” she said.


Scott and Stacey weren’t done celebrating.


In July they all traveled together to Sol Duc and from there plunged into the wilderness. The first day they covered nine miles, climbing from 1,500 feet elevation to more than 4,500 feet. (“We had no trouble sleeping that night,” Joanne said.)


The next day they worked their way down the six-mile trail to Rocky Creek. On the third, they pulled another four miles, eventually returning to Sol Duc.


Joanne, a former physical education teacher, says she was more prepared than most 70-year-olds for such a trek. “I’ve done a lot of hiking and running,” she said. “I bike, I ride, I work out.”


She also made special preparations for the Sol Duc trip. “I worked out at SARC and made sure I did a lot of walking.” During much of her prep time she was carrying a backpack loaded with 24 pounds of stuff, just to get used to it.


“You have to condition yourself. You can’t just head out,” she said.


In addition to her other work, Joanne also traveled up to Hurricane Ridge to take five-mile hikes — “and not on flat land.”


The trip included a beautiful sunset the first night and they also spotted a deer and marmots. Stacey even saw a bear, just around the corner, “about eight feet away.” Fortunately it was running the other way, Joanne said. And then there was a spectacular view of Mount Olympus.


Joanne’s grandchildren sent along a special gift: freeze-dried “space age” ice cream. “Of course I carried it up in my backpack and yes — it tasted somewhat like ice cream. It was different,” Joanne laughed.

Would she recommend others take up the challenge?


“Go for it,” she said.


“God has created a world for us that’s just magnificent. When you get away from the traffic and the noise, you really can just sense his presence.”



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