George Crowhurst. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)

George Crowhurst. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)

Ponoka senior walks length of Grand Canyon

The virtual tour was about 450 km

Ponoka resident George Crowhurst, 93, proves that you can be healthy and active at any age, after recently completing a virtual walking tour of the Grand Canyon.

Whether ambling with his walker through the empty hallways of the seniors facility where he lives, or getting outside for some fresh air and sunshine, Crowhurst walked a total of 450 kilometres since November, 2020, reaching his goal last month.

“It gave me something to do,” said Crowhurst.

“Otherwise I’d sit around and do nothing.”

Crowhurst jokes that he’s really just 18 years old with 75 years of experience, supporting the old adage that you’re only as old as you feel.

“I thought, ‘well, I don’t know how far I can go,’” he said, adding he decided to try.

Sometimes he can go short distances without his walker, but other times he relies on it for stability.

When he needs to sit for a moment to catch his breath, he does.

“I listen to my body.”

He strolls the hallways late in the evening when nobody is around, as to maintain physical distancing.

When he gets outside for a walk, sometimes he parks his car downtown, a block or two from where he needs to go, in order to get his steps in.

“It certainly adds up,” he said.

Another favourite spot for him to visit is the Ponoka Community Garden.

Crowhurst uses an iPhone app that tracks his steps, and signed up for a virtual walking tour of the Grand Canyon. Every time he completed a walk, the virtual tour showed him a video of a correlating distance in the Grand Canyon.

Suffering a stroke in January only set him back for a little while before he was back up and at it again, counting his steps.

“That curtailed my walking for a couple of weeks,” he said.

He gave himself a year to complete the walk as he wanted to finish the virtual tour before his 94th birthday in August, but ended up far ahead of schedule.

It was a friend in his morning coffee group that suggested he do a walking tour, and now that he’s got the Grand Canyon under his belt, he aims to complete Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.

Although a shorter walk at 140 kilometres, he finds the history of the site fascinating and believes it should give him a good ‘view.’

“You need to get up and get some exercise.”

After completing his walk of the Grand Canyon, Crowhurst brought his walker in for a ‘check-up’ to make sure it was still in tip-top shape.

As he purchased it at the Ponoka Professional Pharmacy, he had owner and pharmacist Jamil Rawji give it the once-over.

Given his age and health, Crowhurst says Rawji was intrigued to hear of his walking tour.

“I found it very inspiring and thought it was a story that should be shared with our town, to maybe inspire others,” said Rawji, adding he feels it’s good for people to find that sense of purpose, and be active at whatever level they’re able to.

Rawji decided to pledge $1 for every kilometre Crowhurst completed of his Grand Canyon virtual tour, and he plans to donate the money to a charity of Crowhurst’s choice.