PARKER, Colo. (KDVR) — With 132 steps, the Rueter-Hess incline and the trail that leads to and from the parking lot can be a challenge for even the most experienced hikers.
Martin Berger kept up a steady pace, with the help of walking canes, as he conquered the one-mile loop.
“I say to myself when the hike’s over, ‘I did another hike,'” Berger said. “It was great, it was beautiful. I like that feeling.”
Nothing gets Berger’s blood pumping like a summertime hike in Colorado. At 73 years old, he has spent more than four decades leading hikes as an instructor for the Colorado Mountain Club.
“These are places that people can’t drive their car and walk in for 10 minutes with their families to see it. You gotta go in 7 miles to see something really spectacular,” Berger said.
Berger still carries reminders from a time when, physically, he couldn’t explore the outdoors. As a college student, he had a waist size of 70 inches and his weight hovered near 450 pounds.
“I just love telling people about it,” an excited Berger said. They go, ‘No way,’ I go, ‘Yes way. I used to weigh 444 in college.'”
With diet, exercise, and a positive attitude Berger dropped 287 lbs in 15 months. And he’s kept that weight off for 45 years. The septuagenarian hopes his story inspires others to hoof it.
“No one comes back from a hike depressed,” Berger said. “I mean, even if they’re exhausted, they get to say, ‘I did it!’ And the ‘I did it’ is worth it.”
That’s coming from a guy who talks the talk and walks the walk.