Sick of the treadmill? So are we. And so is Hungary-born Julius Geday, founder of The Philadelphia Hiking and Adventure Group. For the past year, this group of more than 950 Philly locals has been setting up weekend hikes — all orchestrated via email — throughout the city and the suburbs. (Valley Forge and Wissahickon are regulars, but sometimes they’ll drive a bit further, to the Catskills or Ricketts Glen.) Usually there’s a turnout of 40 or more — and groups have the option of meeting up at designated carpool spots, like Mugshots in Manayunk, and driving together.
“The main focus is to get people out regularly to hike,” says Geday. “You’d be amazed how out of shape some people are when they start.” But that quickly changes, especially when newbies find the hours flying by — unlike their time on the treadmill. “It’s very social. Everyone chats,” he says.
Geday breaks the group up by fitness level so faster hikers can take the lead. He also makes sure there’s someone at the head, middle and end of the group doing regular headcounts to ensure safety, and he won’t grant membership to the group until you submit a photo. “This is done so all participants can be identified,” says Geday, who wants women in particular to feel safe while hiking. “So far it’s worked really well and everyone feels secure. The program really allows anyone to do cardio regularly that is interesting.”
Need a little inspiration to get outside? The group also plans a yearly trip to a mega mountain and members who opt in treat the weekly hikes as training sessions. This year, they’re climbing Machu Picchu.
To join — did we mention it’s free? — go to http://www.meetup.com/hiking-adventure/