Self-styled “walking man” Daniel Chazin of Teaneck has enjoyed hiking since he was young.
But then, about 36 years ago, he became a scoutmaster. He leads Troop 226, a shomer Shabbat Boy Scout troop in Teaneck that is now the only shomer Shabbat troop in Bergen and Passaic counties. That caused him to take his interest to a new level.
“I started to do it more,” Mr. Chazin said. “And I liked it.”
Mr. Chazin, who has served on the board of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference for more than 30 years and now chairs its publications committee, said he became even more involved in hiking after joining the conference.
Now, after completing several thousand hikes, he has many stories to tell. On January 12 he will tell some of those tales, and show photos of his adventures, at Congregation Beth Aaron in Teaneck.
“Exploring Hashem’s Beautiful World” – jointly sponsored by the synagogue and its men’s club and set for just before Tu B’Shevat – will focus on walking opportunities in the New York metropolitan area.
While he still walks for pleasure, Mr. Chazin, author of the newly published “Hike of the Week: A Year of Hikes in the New York Metro Area” as well as a column in The Record, “now I usually try to combine that with some kind of purpose so I can write them up,” he said.
His new book “awakens the inner hiker in all of us, provides trail descriptions for walkers ranging from the novice to the expert, and reveals the hidden gems that can be found and traversed right in our own back yard,” he added.
Mr. Chazin has edited a number of other guidebooks, including the “Appalachian Trail Guide to New York and New Jersey,” the “New York Walk Book,” and “Harriman Trails: A Guide and History.” His descriptions of more than 300 hikes in the New York-New Jersey area can be found online at www.nynjtc.org.
Mr. Chazin, who is a lawyer by profession as well as a walker by avocation, insists that “anybody can pick up and hike. It doesn’t require special preparation. The most important thing is to be reasonably well-dressed and have a good pair of footwear.” Of course, he conceded, a certain amount of stamina is needed for more difficult hikes.
“There are different levels,” he said, noting that over the years he has particularly enjoyed walks in the Catskills. “They have some unique features. It’s more challenging, more of a wilderness. I really enjoy it.”
Ms. Chazin said he started taking pictures some 50 years ago. When The Record began to include photos with his column 10 years ago, he started taking photos on all of his hikes. Today he has a library of pictures covering nearly all the parks in the area that have hiking trails.
He generally does more than 100 hikes a year.
“I try to look for new things,” he said, pointing out that while other guidebooks might have similar hikes in the same parks, “I often come up with hikes that use some of the same trails but in a different manner, so that my hikes are different from theirs.”
In his talk, Mr. Chazin will discuss both his hikes and his books, using a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate his adventures. He noted that he would be happy to sign copies of his book at the event.
His most memorable hike, “which almost became a search and rescue mission,” took place about 23 years ago.
“I was in the Catskills with a friend and his brother,” Mr. Chazin recalled, noting that his friend wanted to climb all 35 peaks in the area before the end of winter. With eight peaks left to climb, he and his friend hiked the entire day and evening ““ in 20 degree weather – returning to their car in the wee hours of the morning. Concerned for their safety, and having already returned to the car, his friend’s brother already had called the police, who were poised to begin a search. Fortunately, that didn’t prove necessary.
Mr. Chazin said he has taken his Scout troop on hikes throughout the area, from the Ramapos to the Catskills.
“It’s fun, they enjoy it, and it’s good exercise,” he said. “You see some very interesting places.”
And that, he said, is why more people should hike, perhaps starting by following the descriptions of each walk he has chronicled.
He noted that religiously observant people are no exception, pointing out that the assistant rabbi of Congregation Beth Abraham in Bergenfield is an avid walker.
“It just means that you don’t go out on Shabbat,” he said. “But there are Sundays and all the other days.”
|Who: Daniel Chazin
What: Presenting “Exploring Hashem’s Beautiful World”
When: Sunday, January 12, at 10 a.m.
Where: Congregation Beth Aaron, 950 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck
Why: To explore walks in the greater New York metropolitan area
For more information call (201) 836-6210.