HEALTHY LIFESTYLES: Trip of a lifetime for Saanich Peninsula women’s hiking group

Sidney Estlle Crews plans adventurous trips for her and five women she met through the Peninsula Newcomers Club’s hiking group.

Members of a small hiking group pose for a photo along Route 66 at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Diner in the U.S. From left are Liz Taylor

Sidney resident Estlle Crews has planned an adventurous trip for her and five women she met through the Peninsula Newcomers Club’s hiking group.

An avid hiker herself, Crews joined the newcomers club a few years ago. It’s a group of people new to the area who come together once a month or so to enjoy lunch or take part in different activities.

After seeing each other at gatherings and talking about the different places they all have hiked, the women hit it off, with Crews beginning to plan hiking trips.

One of those trips was Havasupai in the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, which the ladies asked her to plan since Crews has been on the hike many times.

“I’d already hiked it four times,” she said. “Every time I hike out of that bloody canyon, I always say ‘I’m never doing this again, I’m never doing this again,’” she said with a laugh.

She, of course, did it again, during the first trip with the women’s group.

Last year they went to Utah, hiking nine days straight at Bryce and Zion national parks. This year is their third trip and they’re planning on going to Panama.

Crews is again doing all the planning — as she was actually born there and knows quite a few people and places to go.

“They call me their ‘fearless leader,’” she said.

Travelling for most of January, 2016, the ladies will be going on a few hikes, along with exploring some cultural components of the country.

Crews said she is happy to go back. Having left Panama in 1969, she didn’t go back until 2007 and was last there in 2011.

Leaving their husbands behind, Crews said she has a lot in store for the women, including early mornings, a jeep jungle ride, exciting sightseeing and a really historical site to hike, called Camino de Cruces Trail.

“It’s where the pirates, like Henry Morgan, stole the gold out of old Panama City and then he carried it across the Isthmus (the strip of land in Panama between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean) 50 miles on a trail that they had made of heavy stones.

“They carried it across … because the ships were in the Caribbean and that’s where (Morgan) was taking (the gold),” she said, describing one of the big hikes.

“I like the thought of walking on that trail and knowing this is the 16th century we’re talking about. This is the trail they were on. We’re going to be stepping right where they stepped. I just, I love that whole idea.”

After many hikes together and more coming up in the near future, Crews said it’s just the six of them that travel together outside of the newcomers club.

“We’re all totally different in our personalities, totally different and we came together and just clicked.”