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Finding some fresh air

Tamara Miller
Bret Hartman/Vail DailyLorraine Vasquez, front, Georgie Zinda, center, and Kathy Heyser, back, chat as they snowshoe through a snowy meadow Friday in Minturn's Maloit Park.
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MINTURN ” In the 60-plus years she’s lived in Minturn, Delores Gonzales had never slapped on a pair of snowshoes and explored her hometown’s backyard.

In January, she got the chance to experience first-hand what thousands of new residents and tourists come here to do. Needless to say, she’s hooked.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s wonderful, it’s great exercise, and it’s just good to get out and get some fresh air.”



The Eagle County senior service program added snowshoeing to their list of activities this winter. The activity has become so popular with some senior citizens that they tag along for snowshoeing tours a few times a week.

Even the men ” who typically don’t participate in the myriad of other activities like dancing and water aerobics ” have joined in, said Pat Nolan, a physical therapist who runs the Minturn senior programs.



“Maybe being in the woods is more manly,” she said.

“One person said, ‘It clears the cobwebs out of my head,'” she said.

Lorraine Vasquez, who is Gonzales’ daughter, said she heads out for snowshoes twice a week these days. “I’m usually a homebody,” she said. “Getting out and seeing the scenery is nice.”



Snowshoeing also is a relatively safe activity for those senior citizens who are concerned about balance, Nolan said. All of them use snowshoes and poles for the jaunts in the woods ” usually Maloit Park for the Minturn seniors, and Sylvan Lake or Eby Creek Mesa for the Eagle seniors.

“They are learning how to fall,” she said.

And when they do, they usually land on relatively soft snow.

Before they head out, however, Nolan takes their blood pressure and checks their oxygen levels.

A group of Minturn and Eagle residents, ranging in age from the mid-50s to the early 80s, went out for a tour in Maloit Park Friday morning. After the normal struggle of getting snowshoes on, they set out in groups according to speed, and of course, compatibility.

Georgie Zinda, Kathy Heyser and Vasquez brought up the rear, tromping on snowy meadows and pushing over a few hills.

Heyser and Zinda, both of Eagle, were quick to point out the tour near Sylvan Lake was more difficult. Their guide had led them up and down hills and through deep snow drifts.

“That was our biggest adventure,” Heyser said.

Zinda, who has some problems with her leg, particularly enjoys snowshoeing. It gets her moving and has been relatively easy on the leg, she said.

“Going uphill gets me,” she said, adding she had wanted to try snowshoeing 10 years ago. She finally found a pair of inexpensive snowshoes and started up.

When the group discovered they were the last to return to the starting point, the jokes began.

“They took the chicken route,” Zinda said.

Later, Eagle resident and frequent snowshoer Don Olsen responded to the remark.

“I put up with these women all the time,” he said, with a laugh.

Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at tmiller@vaildaily.com.

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