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‘Reluctant Enthusiast’ makes it easy to find the path

  • ‘Reluctant Enthusiast’ Sonya LeClair on a hike. COURTESY PHOTO


Tuesday, January 03, 2017

So, let’s say you wake up on a nice Saturday morning and decide it would be a great day for a hike. You have X amount of time and motivation.

Where do you go?

Well, Sonya LeClair makes it easy for you to decide where to hike.

The Peterborough resident and health coach has created a cool, easy-to-use online guide to “stellar hikes of the Monadnock Region.” In this one, handy place, the guide provides useful info on more than two dozen hikes in the region, from New Ipswich to Keene. And the list continues to grow, as LeClair adds more hikes as she explores and researches them.

Before creating Hiking in the Monadnock Region, LeClair faced the same questions about where to hike.

“I had been doing the same four or five hikes for a while, and I started to explore more places to go,” LeClair says. “So I looked at the online resources and guide books here and there, and those are helpful. But I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to have it all in one place? So that’s what I did.”

LeClair’s guide groups destinations into easy, intermediate and difficult, and the whole site is easy to navigate on a laptop or a mobile device.

Among the easy hikes: MacDowell Reservoir in Peterborough, the Gregg Trail at Crotched Mountain Foundation in Greenfield and Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge.

Intermediate hikes lead to such treasures as Miller State Park (Pack Monadnock), Mount Skatutakee and Thumb Mountain in Harrisville, and Bald Mountain in Antrim, among others.

Difficult hikes are described for the trails at Mount Monadnock.

Aside from highlights for each destination, each hike has information on hiking time, distance, parking, whether they’re dog friendly or not, maps and other resources. It’s all right there.

A reluctant enthusiast

LeClair knows all those destinations well. She’s hiked them all, which has made this project her labor of love.

“I got out and hiked them all,” she says. “I really enjoyed getting to know these places, seeing views I didn’t expect and discovering new destinations.”

The name of LeClair’s blog – about health, living and the outdoors – aptly describes who she is and how she approaches her realm: The Reluctant Enthusiast.

The moniker comes from a speech by the late Edward Abbey, the environmental writer and advocate for public lands: “One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast ... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic.”

As a part-time crusader, LeClair’s mission isn’t only to help people discover great hikes, it’s also to encourage health, fitness and happiness.

“From a health and fitness perspective, if you want to live longer and healthier, then it helps to get outside,” LeClair says. “Get out and see the world. See the world from a summit. Feel alive and be healthy and experience the world around you.”

LeClair hopes her online guide will be “a way to reduce barriers to healthy living. I want to make it easy for people to discover the great outdoors.”

Find Hiking in the Monadnock Region at www.monadnockregionhikes.com.

Eric Aldrich writes from his home in Hancock. Reach him at ericadine@gmail.com.