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Bryan Hackler, Berny Richardson elevate exercise experience with hunt for Sandy rocks

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Bryan Hackler began walking the Tickle Creek Trail near his home in Sandy just over a month ago as cardio exercise. When trying to get back into shape, everyone has a different motivation.

For some it's that pair of jeans that once fit. For others it's just the idea of feeling better about themselves. For Sandy's Bryan "Pops" Hackler, it's the creations of the Sandy Rocks groups.

About three times a week Hackler hits the Tickle Creek Trail with his friend Berny Richardson.

"The gym we're in — 9Round — helped us in a lot of ways, but it didn't offer a lot of cardio, so we started walking the trail," Hackler said. "(Walking the trail is) like an Easter egg hunt every day. And I get to hang out with my friend Berny."

Hackler and Richardson soon found the trail had a treasure trove more to offer than just a place to get in some steps.

Now each time they venture out they take photos of every rock they find and re-hide and post them to the Sandy Rocks Facebook group. They've even gone so far as to incorporate costumes and dub themselves the Rock Dawgs.

"It was just a way to get a good mile in and have fun with a friend," Hackler noted. "All of a sudden it turned into this big to-do."

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - After finding their first Sandy Rock on the Tickle Creek Trail, Bryan Hackler and his friend Berny Richardson inadvertantly gave a new purpose to their weekly walks. The Rock Dawgs have amassed quite a following. People have begun offering costume ideas and provided the duo with new fun and wacky hats to wear while hunting for rocks.

"It's the rocks and the posting that make it fun," Hackler said. "It just kind of motivates me to get up and get out there."

Hackler has made as much known to the artists of Sandy Rocks, posting this to the group on April 12:

"Just a quick word to my sandy rocks artists. Thank you. It's been difficult getting myself up and out on the trails again, and as a 63-year-old overweight man, I need to do this. These last few days have been incredible, and all your rocks are the reason why," he said. "Each day I look forward to getting out there now and can't wait to see what I'll find. Your rocks and your dedication to getting them hidden out there are making a huge difference in my life. My buddy in crime and walking, Berny, is also a motivating factor in this. And we are about to get others involved. In the meantime, thanks for doing this and please keep it up. I can't wait to see what I find tomorrow!!"

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - The Rock Dawgs have amassed quite a following. People have begun offering costume ideas and to provide the duo with new fun and wacky hats to wear while hunting for rocks. The duo, adorned in their variety of colorful headwear — whether it be pool floaties and goggles, cowboy hats or beanies — have received some memorable reactions from others walking the trail. One man, Hackler said, was so amused by their attire that he couldn't stop laughing. And they've run into him on more than one occasion.

Hackler is happy to inspire laughter and bring joy to others.

"It's moments like that we never expected," Hackler noted. "We thought it was just two buddies walking down a trail."

"It's just something a little different," Richardson said. "It's something fun. And we're the kind of people, we just want to have fun in whatever we're doing."

Richardson has a 5-year-old daughter, Becca, who is probably one of the Rock Dawgs biggest fans, and an aspiring member of the group. Becca has accompanied the Rock Dawgs on the trail before, but there was one slight issue.

"She wanted to take every rock she found home," Richardson explained, laughing.

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Hackler and Richardson sometimes bring Richardson's 5-year-old daughter Becca out to walk the Tickle Creek Trail and hunt for Sandy Rocks with them. In the future, Hackler and Richardson, possibly with some help from Becca and other friends, hope to start painting and hiding their own rocks. They've already begun reaching out to their fellow rock enthusiasts on Facebook for the best methods and materials.

They also plan to clean the trail while on their treks, and encourage everyone to come out and join them. They are always out around 10 a.m. on Tuesdays.

"If we're going to he known for this trail thing," Heckler noted, "maybe we should be cleaning it."

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