Staying Active: Scottsdale retiree keeps hikes going in community

By Connor Dziawura

Scottsdale’s Dick Rosler may be 83 years old, but he doesn’t let that number deter him from staying fit. A longtime hiker, Rosler says his interest in the activity has only grown in the past two decades.

After moving into the upscale Vi at Silverstone senior living community five years ago, Rosler says he had a desire to ingrain himself further in his surroundings and go beyond what the community’s other hiking groups would do. So, he started his own one about two and a half years ago.

Then, earlier this year, the COVID-19 pandemic hit—and he says the community halted hikes due to the inability of groups to take buses together. He, however, was able to keep his group going, by switching from carpooling to meeting up individually.

“The motivation was to do something beyond what we were going to go (with the other hiking groups), to be able to go a little farther and a little more often,” Rosler recalls of starting the group. He says the community fitness coordinator, who leads other hikes, is supportive of his efforts.

“It was just kind of natural for me here at the Vi to want to do something with people here, because we’re fairly close.”

On any given hike, he estimates he and his fellow outdoors enthusiasts will trek for a couple hours. Rosler’s group, which fluctuates in size, traditionally meets up once a month, starting early in the day to beat the heat.

Though the group went on pause over summer due to the high heat, Rosler plans to get even more active as the weather cools this fall, upping hike frequency to twice a month.

Rosler says the group has hiked from Pima Dynamite, Brown’s Ranch, Granite Mountain and Fraesfield trailheads, embarking on a variety of trails in each area. And hikes have visited sites like Cathedral Rock, Amphitheater and Balanced Rock, he notes, adding that the group has trekked around Cone, Brown’s and Granite mountains.

“Anyone that was going on that hike had to be pretty comfortable with being able to hike that distance with no problems,” Rosler explains. “It was totally, I would call it, an intermediate (level) to people that are used to doing it.”

Rosler became more involved in organized hiking after retiring because he “had more time,” he recalls with a laugh. Though Rosler says he and a friend had already hiked together, in the late 1990s the two of them joined the first steward class at the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, then known as the McDowell Sonoran Land Trust.

He helped build trails in those days.

“They have various groups in the conservancy; one of them is a trail-building group,” he explains. “There was a lot of trail building going on in those years.

“I don’t do that anymore,” he adds with a laugh, recalling that the group would scout out trail locations and excavate cactuses to replant elsewhere. “But I did help a lot with the rakes and helping to get the rocks off of the trails and the like.”

During his time with the conservancy, Rosler says he also led public hikes that went for distance as opposed to other, more educational ones.

“The objective of these hikes was to get people introduced to the outdoors and to make sure that they kind of knew how to stay on the trails, and to get people interested in joining the conservancy,” he explains.

Rosler and the friend with whom he joined the conservancy also started a weekly hiking group, which over the years added several other steward mentees and friends. Now 20 or so years later, they still maintain the group from fall to spring, separate from Rosler’s group at the Vi community.

But more than just hiking, Rosler remains active in general. That includes engaging in some of the numerous other features of Vi at Silverstone—from assisting with virtual exercise demonstrations during the pandemic to even participating in pool fitness classes with his wife. He also mentions going for walks and hitting the gym.

COVID-19 has been a challenge to the community’s sense of togetherness, he feels some things are slowly ramping back up. However, the community is “still being hugely, hugely careful,” he says, with some activities still on pause.

“We’re so glad we moved in (to Vi at Silverstone). I was 78 when we moved in—I’m 83 now—and we have a range of people that go from at least, maybe, five to 10 years younger than me.

“There’s a heck of a lot more that are older than me, but it’s quite a range,” he says. “We’re so, so pleased that we did this.”