Hiking Back in Time with Tom Ryan and Willem Lange

A New Episode of Windows to the Wild Premieres Wednesday at 7:30pm on NHPBS

(Durham, NH, April 9, 2021) - For sixteen years now, outdoor adventurer and octogenarian Willem Lange has been widely recognized where ever he goes: on a WINDOWS TO THE WILD shoot in Costa Rica, at the trail head of one of the New Hampshire Presidential mountains or hiking on Cape Cod. “They don’t know you. They only know what they see on the screen, so you take the compliment and good wishes. I really appreciate it. They don’t have to say anything, they just do,” says Lange.

Amidst the gentle rolling hills and scrub pines at the West Barnstable Conservation Area on Cape Cod, two friends and three dogs have met up on a warm day in February to learn a little more about WINDOWS TO THE WILD host Willem Lange. This next episode will premiere on Wednesday, April 14th at 7:30pm on New Hampshire PBS.

“You’re like an old friend who comes into our living rooms,” says New York Times bestselling author Tom Ryan. “One of the great things when we do these shows together, it’s no different when the cameras are on or when they are off.” Ryan – an avid hiker known for taking to the trails with his beloved dogs Samwise and Emily – has put in many miles with Lange talking about their love for the outdoors, dogs and life. Ryan is on his own adventure – or coddiwomple as he calls it – and has been staying on Cape Cod and exploring the deserted beaches and trails.

This time, Ryan is asking the questions and takes Willem back in time to learn what led him from the city to a life in the outdoors. “So, where are you from?” asks Ryan, which Lange is known for as his famous trail greeting.

Growing up in downtown Albany, New York, Lange fondly recalls his great-grandmother playing a role in his love of the Natural History Museum in Albany and walking just about everywhere. And when he was eight he moved to Syracuse. “We lived on the edge of a green infinity and my buddies and I could walk all day in the woods,” says Lange.

But it was when Lange went to Northfield Mount Herman prep school in Massachusetts that he joined the outing club, which put him on a path to something much bigger. In 1955, Lange hiked the Appalachian Trail. “It took me 79 days, I was jogging most of the time and I didn’t have much on me but a light pack,” recalls Lange. That adventure launched a lifelong love of exploring the great outdoors. “In 1956, my friend and I headed west in his ’46 Plymouth Coupe to seek our fortune and climb. We had all our climbing gear, a desk and a typewriter, a couple of guitars and a canoe on top. We even slept in that car.”

There’s still so much more that Lange wants to do. “I would still like to climb the 48 four-thousand footers or the Adirondack 46, but it just isn’t wise anymore. I try to think about how many thousand miles I did manage to hike and that helps, but that is living in the past. You’ve got to live now,” says Lange. And that is where his faithful four-legged sidekick Kiki pushes him to get outside everyday for a walk.

Lange’s anecdotes and tales from life on the trail keep Ryan laughing. “You get to show people places they wouldn’t normally get to and you get to show how beautiful New England is and the different personalities who live here,” Ryan says of Lange’s time as host of WINDOWS TO THE WILD. “But I still think everyone tunes in to see you.”

With a hearty chuckle and quick turn of the conversation, Lange thanks Ryan for the walk and wishes him well on the next stop of his cross-country adventure. “But what a great time we’ve had today and I hope we have some more hikes together,” says Lange. With a fond reply from Ryan “I think we will.”

To watch this episode of WINDOWS TO THE WILD, tune in Wednesday, April 14th at 7:30pm on New Hampshire PBS or online, anytime at nhpbs.org/windows.


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WINDOWS TO THE WILD WITH WILLEM LANGE is generously supported by the Alice J. Reen Charitable Trust and the Bailey Charitable Foundation

Willem Lange’s wardrobe is generously donated by The Kittery Trading Post


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