by: SUBMITTED PHOTO Taking a break while hiking the 4T Trail are Linda Graybeal, 68, and her siblings, Bill, 70; Al, 72; Julie, 66; and Pam, 62.

Editor's note: The 4T Trail combines a trail, tram, trolley (streetcar) and train (MAX) in Portland.

So this year, on the 70th birthday of my brother Bill who had first read about this walk, my sisters Pam and Julie and my brother Al got together and surprised Bill with the intention to walk the trail as a family. The most unique thing about this outing is that the youngest member in the group is 62 and the oldest member is 72 with the others at 66, 68 and 70.

Well, after the surprise party, the balloons, cupcakes and falderal, we started out. We called ourselves 'The Geezers Five.'

I drove everyone up to the Oregon Zoo where we parked the car and started out on our adventure.

We crossed the major roads and began trudging along the beautiful trail, making many friends along the way. Most of the people we met were coming downhill which instantly made us question our wisdom in starting at what appeared to be essentially the bottom. We continued on in any event, enjoying the serenity of the moment, the birds chirping and the fresh smell of the foliage that surrounded us.

In the middle of the trail walk, we came out atop Council Crest. It was like reaching heaven. The views were spectacular with both Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood visible over the lovely Portland skyline.

After resting a bit, we continued on the forest trails. We were constantly noting how unbelievable it was to be surrounded by such an abundance of natural, peaceful beauty while still being in the middle of a large metropolitan city. We felt so blessed that Portland has chosen to protect and promote these idyllic areas.

We laughed, reminisced, and kvetched however that our bones might not carry us to the end. We were quite happy that the walking part ended at the hospital as we were sure that we would need resuscitation by that time!

Near the end, I would be lying if I did not say that it was difficult for a couple of us. Those last steps seemingly straight up were the last challenge. But slowly, one by one, we all made it to the hospital grounds without incident.

A huge blooming rhododendron welcomed us to the open courtyard area of the interesting old medical school buildings and to yet another spectacular panoramic city view. We may have been huffing and puffing but we were also enjoying our success.

Luckily, the rest of the trail was the fun, easy on the body, part. We took the tram down over the freeway, checking out more views of the Willamette River and Portland.

At the bottom, we switched to the trolley, which carried us from the waterfront, past Portland State University and through Portland proper. We then rode on the Max train through a long tunnel and back to our starting point at the Portland Zoo.

At this time, I am at home in Lake Oswego. My calves are quite achy but my soul is soaring. Hiking in such beauty and calm is absolutely renewing and would be a wise addition to anyone's life.

I cannot help but think how extremely lucky we are to have such lovely oases in the middle of our major city. And even more, how fortunate I am to share enough good health with all my siblings to be able to delight in such a trek to celebrate our aging yet still youthful spirits.

Linda Graybeal is a happy-but-tired resident of Lake Oswego, who has lived here since 1956. She and her four siblings all graduated from Lake Oswego High School.

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