20-year-old hiking group exemplifies the saying ‘friends are the new family’

Eight members of the Over the Arroyo Gang gathered at their regular meeting place, a parking lot off Hyde Park Road, dressed for one of their thrice-weekly hikes. The youngest was 63, the oldest, 83. All fit in mind and body. Three dogs came along.

Some of the gang brought snowshoes, expecting to be hiking in deep snow. Others sported microspikes, traction devices that allow hikers to safely walk on ice and hard-packed snow.

They decided to start at Aspen Vista, just below the Santa Fe, NM ski area, but high enough to avoid the mud. Earlier in the week, they had climbed the Winsor Trail to the Wilderness Gate and then turned toward Deception Peak along Raven’s Ridge.

This is the way it is every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Members of OTAG (the acronym they use to refer to their group) know that if they show up, there will be a half-dozen or more hiking enthusiasts to share a walk in the woods and a good conversation.

The rules of the club are simple. Just show up at 9 a.m. on the established hiking days. That’s about it. Carpool to the trailhead. Hike for a couple of hours. Go out to lunch. “We self-regulate. We’re not highly rule conscious,” said John Liebman, a retired attorney and OTAG regular. “It’s a very congenial group.”

See how easy it is to get a hiking group together?

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