The Grand Ridge ribbon is cut
Mike Owens, who worked 315 days on the Grand Ridge trail, cuts the ribbon marking its official completion. Photo by Eli Boschetto.
It has been worked on section by section, switchback by switchback, work party by work party, for the past 11 years. But now that the Grand Ridge Trail is finally finished, we thought it was time to hike the entire 7-mile span of it—turnpikes and bridges and boardwalk and all—in one last go.
So it was that around 50 WTA volunteers and community members gathered at the Central Park trailhead on Thursday morning to hike the length of the trail.
At the beginning of the hike, it was just one long line of people. Whether you looked backward or forward, up or down, you were sure to catch sight of a seemingly unending string of raincoat-clad hikers just rounding the next switchback.
And the stunning thing was that almost every one of these people, at one time or another, had helped build at least one section of the passage they were now treading. As the rain turned to sun, and then to rain again, the volunteers made their way north towards Duthie Hill Park, pointing out the portions of trail that they remembered building.
By the time they reached the boardwalk, the rain had become hail. Other WTA staff, volunteers and community members walked down from Duthie Hill to join the hikers at the boardwalk.
King County Parks director, Kevin Brown, stood on a WTA-made bench to get the attention of the crowd gathered on the boardwalk. Warding off hail, he and Karen Daubert, WTA’s executive director, both thanked WTA volunteers for all of their cumulative work in creating such a model piece of trail work.
Dave Kimmet, a King County staff member who originally conceived and launched the Grand Ridge project, unveiled the new plaque for the recently-finished boardwalk. The county has dubbed the boardwalk the “MikeO Puncheon Bridge” after Mike Owens, a WTA crew leader who put in an enormous 315 of the 448 days that WTA worked at Grand Ridge.
After the speeches, WTA volunteers and county staff who have put significant work into Grand Ridge gathered behind a piece of plastic orange ribbon strung between two trees across the boardwalk. In a moment of ceremonious finality, they cut the ribbon, marking Grand Ridge as officially complete.
By this time the hail was coming down hard and everyone was chilled and hungry. Fortunately, King County had provided a roaring barbecue up at Duthie Hill, so everyone trooped up there for hamburgers, hot cider and a photo slide show of the 11 years that WTA spent on Grand Ridge.
To hike the brand new Grand Ridge Trail yourself, visit our hiking guide entry for this trail.