Osprey Walkers are all-weather friends

Members of the local group meet rain or shine

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Anyone who has ever ran or walked the Round Lake trails knows it is a challenge with its switchbacks and rolling hills.

But there’s a local walking club, with many of its members in their 70s, 80s and even 90s, who traverse the terrain five days a week, rain, shine, hot or cold.

The Osprey Walking Group, as it’s known, has some fairly hardy members, as witnessed during the recent blast of sub-freezing temperatures. Even though there was snow on the ground and ice in places, a small group still showed up to walk, while most people were avoiding the outdoors.

They meet regularly at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday at the Lacamas Park parking lot in Camas, at Everett Street and Lake Road. All are welcome.

“We just have a great time,” said Dorothy Cormack. “We really enjoy the fellowship that goes along with the walking.”

She and her husband Fred, 81 and 86 respectively, have been part of the Osprey group since it began 25 years ago. The group has taken trips to Eastern Oregon, gone smelt fishing, and had picnics and birthday parties at Fallen Leaf Lake in Camas.

“This has been a wonderful opportunity for people to meet others,” Cormack said. “Anyone here would drop everything to help someone in the group. It’s a real sense of camaraderie, companionship and great exercise.”

The group also hosts potlucks, an annual holiday party, breakfasts and other events.

“We used to have big birthday parties when someone turned 80,” said Cormack. “Now it’s the 90th birthday that’s the big deal.”

Rudi Metzner, 77, said the members love to have fun. He and wife Betty, 70, have been walking with the group for six years.

“We’re not sure if we’re walkers who like to party, or partyers who like to walk,” he joked.

Group members range in age from their late 30s to mid 90s.

“I really enjoy being around all the people here,” Rudi said. “We don’t walk in cliques.”

The couple joined the Ospreys right after they came to Camas.

“We moved here six years ago, not knowing anyone but our son and his family,” Betty said. “He wondered what he was going to do with us. The third day we were here, we were at an exercise class at Lacamas Swim and Sport and a couple from the walking group started talking to us and asked us to join.”

Since then, the Metzners have been faithful daily walkers, holidays included.

“There are several of us who like to go off the maintenance trail and explore the various side trails of the park, doing that on dry days,” Betty said. “Some of the walkers belong to other walking/outdoor activity groups. We might start off walking with a few people and shift to another small group, and later hook up with others. After the walk, there is always a group that goes to coffee at one of the local coffee places for more conversation. The group is a wonderful resource for solving household and yard problems.”

Betty added that the group has “wonderful” role models.

“Not just in walking and staying active, but volunteering in the community,” she said. “We all look after each other, from driving to doctors’ appointments to volunteering with several organizations in Camas, such as Treasure House, Soroptimists and the First Friday art shows, and the Lost and Found Cafe.”

Origins at Doc Harris Stadium

The Osprey walkers have their history rooted firmly in Camas. In the late 1980s, two retired Crown Zellerbach paper mill employees, Jim Golladay and Jack Grigsby, began walking at the Doc Harris Stadium track to keep the extra pounds at bay. Golladay had a dog, so the two began walking in the woods nearby. One day, they happened to see the Cormacks walking with two of their friends, and suggested they all walk together.

“My husband made a walking list and it just grew from there,” Cormack said. “It was really people from all walks of life, from the mill workers to company vice presidents. Everyone was welcome here.”

At 95, Grigsby is still a regular attendee of the daily walks, and can often be seen sitting on a rock at the entrance to the Round Lake trail. Thelma Wysong of Camas, another founding member, also attends the group’s various gatherings.

The group got its name after Golladay pointed out a large Osprey nest on the trail.

“Every year that we’ve walked here, we’ve watched them take off and return to the park,” Cormack said.

A place for everyone

At 91 years old, Marjorie Rorabaugh of Vancouver still walks five days a week.

“I love the people here and the exercise,” she said. “I don’t walk too far anymore, but always have someone to go with.”

Shirley Rekdahl and her husband Don, 81 and 88 respectively, are also faithful attendees. They have been with the group since 1988.

“We really enjoy the people and getting out with them,” Shirley said.

Eileen Mill, 76, and good friend Karen Sonneson, 72, met in the group. They have been walking with the Ospreys for five years. Every December, they decorate a tree along the trail, in honor of the holiday season.

“We add a few new ornaments every year,” Mill said.

Added Sonneson, “It’s fun to see it on our walks.”

Sonneson is a lifelong exerciser who logged several years on the tennis courts and as a runner before her knees protested.

“Now I walk and go to the gym,” she said. “I really enjoy it. Everyone here is so nice and exercise is just addicting. I’m a much happier person when I’m active.”