Staying Fit at Any Age in Northwest Montana: A Passions Project Story

  • Our Work
  • 02-08-19

Lois McClaren and her husband, Bill, moved to Kalispell in 1955.  Bill had just graduated with his teaching certificate, and he’d been sending resumes all over the country.  He received an offer for a position teaching math at Flathead County High School (now Flathead High School) via telegram.  The couple had to look at a map to see where Kalispell was, but they decided to take the plunge and make the move sight unseen!  Lois has lived here happily ever since.

The Flathead Valley was the perfect location for the McClaren family because they love to be outdoors.  Lois and Bill chose the job in Kalispell—Bill had several other offers—because they wanted to be among mountains and lakes, and they knew they would find that here.  They quickly developed a love of hiking in the area, and as time went on and their family grew, they shared this love with their four children.

While there are many beautiful places to hike around the Flathead Valley, Lois’s favorite location is Glacier National Park.  Lois remembers the days when Glacier wasn’t quite so busy.  She liked it even better then because it was quieter and more peaceful.  She and Bill would frequently take their children and join friends for hikes in the park, including one particularly memorable very long one.  The kids didn’t complain—they loved being outside and active. 

The natural beauty made the hikes even more enjoyable, and it helped maintain the kids’ interest as they hiked.  “If anyone’s bored in this country, it’s their own fault,” Lois commented as she told us about the many hikes her family took together.  The McClarens have wandered a lot in Glacier and in other local areas, but they’ve never been lost, and while they saw bears on their hikes, they never met one.  Their hikes in Glacier have always been fun, positive experiences, and Lois still goes to the park whenever she can.

Lois continues to enjoy walking and hiking.  She can be seen almost every morning, in all kinds of weather, walking the sidewalks around her Buffalo Hill Terrace home.  When she can, she also likes to go to Heron Park to hike the extensive trails there.  And all this walking isn’t just about pleasure for Lois.  She knows exercise is important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially as one ages.  That’s why she goes to every exercise class the Terrace offers, except yoga, which isn’t her thing.  On yoga days, she swims.

Though she’s always loved the outdoors, Lois hasn’t always been this health-conscious.  It wasn’t until Bill had some heart problems about thirty years ago that she really started paying attention.  Shortly after that event, their daughter ran a 5K, and Bill and Lois decided to start doing them, too.  They traveled all around Montana doing 5Ks and even went to the Senior Olympics. 

Though Lois and Bill started pursuing exercise seriously to help Bill’s health, it became a real passion, and Lois continues to participate in various forms of exercise because she truly enjoys them.  When asked what she enjoys so much about her physical activities, Lois replies, “You might hurt or be tired, but once it’s over you just want to go out and do it again.” 

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