WALKING FOR TWO: Michael Molina gives a hand to his girlfriend, Mandie Bowling, who is nine-months pregnant while the two hiked along the Heritage Trail on Wednesday. Bowling’s due date was Wednesday. The two plan to hike every day until Bowling goes into labor. (Staff photo by Seth Grundhoefer/sgrundhoefer@madisoncourier.com)
WALKING FOR TWO: Michael Molina gives a hand to his girlfriend, Mandie Bowling, who is nine-months pregnant while the two hiked along the Heritage Trail on Wednesday. Bowling’s due date was Wednesday. The two plan to hike every day until Bowling goes into labor. (Staff photo by Seth Grundhoefer/sgrundhoefer@madisoncourier.com)
Mindie Bowling could go into labor at any time, but she's not letting that keep her from her fitness routine.

On Wednesday, with temperatures in the mid 90s, Bowling hiked the Heritage Trail, up the steps to Madison State Hospital and back down the paved path to the start of the trail.

The steep path is about three miles long, and Bowling walked it on her due date.

Bob Greene, executive director of the Heritage Trail Conservancy, said the steps were built some time after 1910 by the state hospital.

"They were a major employer and they built an amazing set of stone steps that people would climb to get to work every day," Greene said. "You can be assured, there were no overweight people that worked at the state hospital."

Bowling and her boyfriend, Michael Molina, were walking the Heritage Trail on Tuesday with several of their friend's children when they found the steps. Bowling said their sense of adventure took over.

"(Michael) checked it out to make sure it was safe, and then we all just started going up," she said.

Keeping active has been important to Bowling during her pregnancy. After moving to Florida six years ago she learned to surf, which she continued to do until her seventh month of pregnancy.

"There are pictures," Molina said with a laugh.

She can't do that anymore, so the couple just walks together. Bowling said she saw a study that links taking walks while pregnant to shorter labor time.

"That's worth a little bit of walking," she said. "Plus I feel better after I do it. It's not healthy to just sit around."

Bowling grew up in Ripley County, but she moved to Florida for her job. She is a retirement planner, and she owns her own business, which allows her to work from Indiana.

She met Molina in Florida through mutual friends, and they got to know each other better during Bowling's surfing lessons. Molina, a native Floridian, also owns his own fishing business. His company catches Spanish mercurial, king mercurial and black mullets.

The couple temporarily moved to Madison to be closer to Bowling's family.

"It's important. I want my child to have roots here," she said.

Her mother, father and three brothers live in the area.

Together, they're planning a home birth for Bowling's child. They've hired a midwife and taken classes on natural birthing methods.

"Birth can be a spiritual thing," Molina said. "We want our experience to be like that."

Molina said that neither he nor Bowling are hippies. They're just hoping for a natural experience, but they're not going to take any risks with it.

"If anything is wrong we're going straight to the hospital," he said.

Bowling said there are things she loves about being pregnant. "Just feeling the baby kick is amazing," she said.

But she's ready for what comes next.

Neither knows what the sex of the baby is, but they have two names ready. Marin - which means "of the sea" - if it's a boy, or Memphis if it's a girl. The name Memphis comes from Bowling's favorite Lonnie Mack song of the same name. But neither parent has a preference.

"I just can't wait for that moment," Bowling said.