20,000-step days? At least they're the most memorable

Columnist Steve Lange looks back at his health app ... and walking London, hiking the Porkies, and geocaching Rochester.

Oddchester - Steve Lange column sig

Last weekend, wife Lindy and daughter Emma, 16, were comparing their day’s steps as tracked by some iPhone app.

I had clearly been sitting most of the day, and their discussion was well within earshot, which seemed pointed.

(Full disclosure: The quotes below are depicted as I heard them in my head, and bear little resemblance to the actual phrasings.)

“Why, I only had 8,800 steps today,” said Lindy. “At least a LOT of them were stairs. Maybe I’ll take a quick moonlight hike around the neighborhood to reach my 10,000-step mark!”

Emma echoed similar sentiments. “Nearly 12,000 for me today!” she said. “Yes! A late hike sounds fun!”


There was a pause, then, where I could feel them looking at me. I feared they expected me to volunteer my daily step count. Or, more concerning, volunteer to join their hike.

Emma said, “Dad?”

I checked my fitness app. “Two hundred eighty-three steps today,” I said. “But I think a few of them were stairs.”

I begged off on their hike, and I decided to scroll through the past few years of my Health app stats to find some days with the most steps, and then cross-reference those with my iPhone photos.

October 16, 2019: 20,132 steps.

Daughter Hadley was spending her fall semester of college studying in England, and we hoped the whole family could visit. Then, I found $280 round trip flights from Chicago to London.

When I breathlessly called Lindy, she said “Well ... we do have the money we’ve been saving for new carpet. But the kids will never remember the week we got new carpeting.”

London it was.


On day two, we walked to, and through, the British Museum (the Rosetta Stone isn't just a computer course) and Camden Market and though back alleys searching for Banksy art. It ended with a stop, with daughter Hadley, at a neighborhood pub where I was served the best whiskey sour I’ve ever had.

Here’s how good it was: I didn’t order another one. I was afraid I would ruin that memory. Though I did describe it in great detail to Hadley for our 2,237-step walk back to our Airbnb.

Klotzbach Lange hike1.jpg
Ken Klotzbach, left, and Steve Lange at the start of their Porcupine Mountain hike.
Steve Lange

June 16-18, 2022: 21,379 average steps per day over three days.

Friend Ken and I hiked for three days and 35 miles in the wild and rugged Porcupine Mountains of Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula. We were, in hindsight, ill-prepared.

Day Three, Mile 30: I jump over a log and, I’ll find out later, tear my meniscus. We find two long walking sticks that I use as crutches. I look like Gandalf, if there is a scene in “Lord of the Rings” where Gandalf limps along while crying out in pain with every step.

Day Three, Mile 35: The last five miles — 11,417 steps, according to the app breakdown—takes us five hours. But we make it to the Jeep in time to drive to a late dinner at a nearby bowling alley.

September 4, 2022: 21,229 steps

Wife Lindy was visiting her parents in Michigan, and daughter Emma downloaded a free app, called Geocaching, and we discovered that there are hundreds of geocaches hidden across Rochester.


Geocaching is a sport that utilizes multi-million dollar military satellites to help people find Tupperware containers hidden in the woods.

But nothing, it turns out, is more exciting than finding Tupperware containers hidden in the woods.

Emma and I followed the on-phone navigation and walked to a small park a mile from our house that supposedly contained a geocache.

The distance started counting down from tenths of miles to feet ... 300, 100, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ....

Then ... nothing. We looked under benches and kicked at the pea gravel. I felt under swing set swings.

I’m sure the other park goers thought we were some sort of private playground inspectors.

Then, cue that “Ta Da!” music — the one that comes with heavenly discoveries — we found it.

It was a scene very much like Indiana Jones uncovering the Ark of the Covenant. Except instead of a golden chest containing the Ten Commandments and the power to destroy cities, we found a tiny magnetic container attached to a metal sign.


Emma and I were no less excited.

Our first ‘cache! We signed the tiny scroll of paper inside, replaced the container, and took off for the next nearest cache. So it went for the rest of the day.

And, 21,229 steps and 10 geocaches later, we found ourselves too far from home to walk back. And we found a ride home with a friend.

Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

Opinion by Steve Lange
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