By Dan Walton
With the combined knowledge of a lifetime of local friends, a curious outdoorsman for a husband, and an ambition to be outdoors 70-year-old (as of next week) Grace Sander wrote and edited a book which highlights the most peaceful trails in the valley.
This upcoming springtime will be the first that the book can be put to use, as 31 Easy Hikes in Invermere and the Surrounding Area was just released in December.
As her hiking memories were being collected for decades, Grace was encouraged by her friend Andy Stuart-Hill to put them on paper.
Most hikes in the book are easy places for little old ladies to go, she said. The biggest thing is companionship, good weather, and not too tough of a hike because then youre not smelling the roses.
But even though the trails arent very challenging, they still deliver a full dose of the valley. As the leader of the Grace and her Little Old Ladies hiking club, she learned how to intimately enjoy the serenity of the outdoors from Edgewater to Canal Flats. The group could sometimes swell up to 17 ladies large.
We were always looking for different kinds of flowers, she said. The conversations and companionship were number one. The highlight of the day was stopping and having lunch, and wed talk about what hike to do next week.
It wasnt all wholesome, however.
A lot of times we would bushwhack, just to see what would happen, she said. My friends were always encouraging me to go off-road.
Grace knows the valley like the back of her hand. In addition to her love of bushwhacking, she has a strong sense of direction. That experience in the bush began in the late 1970s, after getting together with her now-husband, Hans Sander, whos a hunter and a member of the Summit Trail Maker Society.
My husband is an inveterate, curious as to what was over on the other side of the mountain, she said. So he checked everything out he found a lot of those hikes while he was searching for game, and hes very precise about all that stuff.
Grace said that her favourite hike in the book is of Steamboat Mountain, which offers a stunning view of Edgewater, where she was raised as a girl.
She extends a thank-you to all of the ladies that shes ever hiked with, and encourages everybody to take a slower pace.
Some people dont see the flowers, they just see how fast they could get up there.
Palliser Printing helped Grace publish her book, which shes selling out of her home for $10 per copy. To get in touch, she can be reached at 250-342-6764.