Focusing on Adults 50+ in Mesa, Delta, Montrose Counties

Find adventure at any age

May 29, 2012, noon
Hike’n Scramble. Ding-Dang Canyons, Utah


Laney Heath explored the Vernal Equinox archaeoastronomy site on Cedar Mesa in Utah.


Dennis Meyers rafts through Westwater Canyon on the Colorado River, a class III-IV adventure. Doug Van Etten and Matt Tuten are behind him.


Maria Archuleta uses her canyoneering skills at Arches National Park.


Tracy Baron and friend cross country ski with their dogs on the Grand Mesa.


Jim Landis hikes Mee Canyon.


Kathy Martin, Dave Guiness, top, and their friend, Earl, geocache off Little Park Road.

By Melanie Wiseman

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

Doug Loesch, 65, from Montrose has this mantra hanging in his home and tries to live by it daily. In other words, stay active, meet new people, try new things and learn something new.

“I have always worked,” Loesch said. “When you get older, it’s easy to get sedentary. Western Slope Adventurers has really helped me get out and be active, more than just mowing the lawn.”

Loesch now boasts a sub zero camping trip and looks forward to two whitewater rafting trips this summer.

Doug Van Etten and Mary Hertert started Western Slope Adventurers just over a year ago. The group is part of www.meetup.com, a network of groups around the world that help connect like-minded people to share varied interests and activities. Western Slope Adventurers’ shared interests revolve around the outdoors.

Van Etten and Hertert, both 59 and originally from California, met and married 20 years ago while working in Anchorage, Alaska. While attending a conference in Las Vegas, Van Etten wanted to hike. He searched online using Google and found a Meet Up group to join on a hike. An avid outdoorsman, Van Etten asked himself if Anchorage might have something similar. They didn’t, so he started his own group in March 2007. By July of the same year, there were 350 participants and the group had 3,000 activities in the first four years.

Looking for a new adventure, Van Etten and Hertert started traveling. After visiting friends whose backyard was the Colorado National Monument, they were hooked. They bought their own home bordering the McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area in Fruita. Van Etten and Hertert were so anxious to move to the Grand Valley and meet people to share outdoor adventures with, they started Western Slope Adventurers two months before moving here.

“The success of this group is the dynamics of Doug and Mary,” Western Slope Adventurer Laney Heath, 63, said.

Loesch echoed that sentiment.

“Doug and Mary are amazingly ambitious,” he said.

If you spend any amount of time with them, you will clearly see their energy and passion for the outdoors, and the desire to share it with others. The website and emails keep everyone current on activities.

So what makes Western Slope Adventurers so special? The list is extensive. Ask any participant and the first thing they will tell you are the close friendships that are created.

“Friendships are based on shared interests,” Hertert said. “Friendships form easily and are strong. Friendships are strong when you’re on an adventure. You need to count on each other.”

Western Slope Adventurers’ activities connect you with people all year long, tying you together throughout the season changes. The group also has the tendency to get you out doing adventures you probably wouldn’t be doing by yourself.

The Western Slope Adventurers offer opportunities for people to learn and practice skills to see if they like an activity before investing in it. A person interested in repelling may start by attending a knot tying clinic, followed by simple repels, and moving up to more difficult ones.

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