Dede Rand of Scottsdale finds inspiration in a Mark Twain quote: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
The 70-year-old retired educator and advocate of healthy living sees hiking as an important part of her lifelong commitment to maintaining her physical and mental fortitude.
“When I was 16, my friends began smoking, drinking and using drugs,” Rand says. “I didn’t fit in, so I left the group and never looked back. Health and vitality are not a stroke of luck. They are the result of making them a priority – [a] gift you give yourself.”
When not working out in the gym, or stocking her fridge with nutritious fresh foods, Rand can be found on the rugged trails of South Mountain Park and other destinations across Arizona, trekking with hikers decades her junior. She embraces the fact that even as an exceptionally active septuagenarian, her body is not going to respond like it did in her 20s. Still, she pushes on and encourages others to not be intimidated by faster, stronger hikers.
“How you traverse and maneuver this landscape is your decision,” she says. “Listen carefully to your body and intuition. You may [reach the] summit, or you may say you’ll try it again another day. Some hikes are too difficult for me to complete, but even if I only go part way, I still see plenty of gorgeousness!”
If you’re fortunate enough to run into Rand on a trail, stop and chat awhile. Her words of encouragement might make your day. “You belong on the mountains, somewhere between the clouds and the wildflowers. Whatever you choose, make it a ‘ta-da’ moment.”
IF YOU GO
South Mountain Park Trails, Phoenix
NEXT MONTH: Grandbaby’s first hike.
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