For those unfamiliar with Adventuring(www.adventuring.org/cgi-bin/main.idc), last weekend's Virginia hike from Bootens Gap in Shenandoah National Park to Hoover Camp, President Hoover's rural retreat, might have seemed pretty ordinary.
But for the members of the group for gay outdoor enthusiasts, who have participated in events from hikes to bike rides to canoeing trips over the past several years, the May 10 hike held special significance.
It was Adventuring's 30th birthday.
''A lot of people love to get out,'' says Craig Howell of the group's longevity. ''It's not just hiking, of course. We do a lot of bike trips and other things. We're a very vibrant group.''
To commemorate 30 years of Adventuring, Howell, who is the "woods coordinator" of the group and a big fan of battlefield and Civil War-themed hikes, came up with the idea to have the group reenact its very first event.
''We reenacted the exact same route the first hike took on May 6, 1979."
Arlington resident Pete Kostik, coordinator of Adventuring's very first hike, was back for the re-enactment.
''He showed up with another person who was on that first hike and brought along the copy of the first trip description that Adventuring ever made up and the list of people who called in to sign up,'' says Howell.
Howell joined Adventuring in 1985 on the recommendation of a friend -- although he didn't expect much.
''I didn't think hiking was for me,'' he says.
But after signing up for a trip to Colorado that involved plenty of activity in the great outdoors, Howell decided to get in shape. That led him to take the Adventuring plunge.
''I fell in love with hiking. I've been doing it ever since.''
Also involved with Adventuring since the '80s is Hy Ludmer, currently serving as the group's secretary. Ludmer found his way to Adventuring through his doctor.
''The doctor told me I needed to start exercising if I wanted to continue living,'' he says. ''I was grossly overweight.
"I remember the first hike. It was only about a mile and a half, and the trip leader…it took him every bit of patience in the world to get me up and back.''
It wasn't long before Ludmer was losing weight and gaining speed.
''I ended up doing 60-mile bike rides and 12-mile hikes. I became very compulsive about going.''
Ludmer and Howell agree that for gay people and their allies, Adventuring remains a great way to meet new friends.
''It's a wonderful way to socialize, it's a wonderful way to get to know people who have a common interest," says Howell. "And this particular common interest, doing outdoor stuff, seems to stick.''
For more information on Adventuring visit www.adventuring.org.