Good turnout for anniversary trek
The nine-day Mountains to Sound Greenway 25th Anniversary Trek kicked off on Sunday with a 25-mile bike ride from Ellensburg to South Cle Elum.
The first trek started in 1990 when a group of 100 hikers trekked for five days from Snoqualmie Pass to the Seattle waterfront to bring attention to the natural and historic assets of the landscape. This year the trek has about 100 participants, said Judy Hallisey, a member of the trek committee.
Hallisey said day one of the journey was a gorgeous ride.
“Everybody paced themselves well along the trail,” she said. “We took our time taking pictures and a lunch break.”
The group arrived at Fireman’s Park in South Cle Elum at about 4 p.m., and enjoyed a dinner put on by Suncadia homeowners later that evening.
Jim Becker, a Suncadia resident and member of the Mountains to Sound Greenway board, organized the chili, salad and cornbread dinner.
“Suncadia folks made this dinner,” he said. “It’s the same group that has done many trail repairs around this area.”
Jim Berry, chairman of the event committee, said the trek took the volunteer group a year and a half to plan. It is structured similarly to the one in 2011.
“We had some concepts of how we wanted to change,” he said. “We wanted high priority of including the youth group.”
The trip is free for all of the youth participating, some of which are kids from low-income families. Nike donated $3,000 in shoes, while REI donated backpacks, water bottles and headlamps, he said. The committee also received donations of helmets and bikes.
Berry has been involved with the Greenway for about 18 years, and said he is amazed with the organization’s ability to get groups with competing interests to sit down and come up with ways to cooperate.
This year the trek includes 15 youth from various YMCA programs.
Darinka Cereceres said she found out about the trek through the YMCA Minority Achievers Program (MAP). She knew four people who were on the trek when she arrived, but branched out to make other friends.
“I thought it would take two days to befriend people, but it was right off the hook,” she said.
Blanca Olivera, a youth from Seattle, said she has enjoyed meeting everyone.
“It’s been cool because we get to talk to new people,” she said. “I didn’t know any of them before coming here.”
Errin Hendrickson, who attended with her sister Rachael Hendrickson, said the first part of the ride was peaceful.
“There was so much open space,” she said. “It made you realize how much the world has, how much there is in the world that you don’t know about or beautiful things that you’ve never seen before. … It was really calm.”
Olivera agreed that the view on the first day was amazing.
“The view was so beautiful,” she said. “Once it got tougher you had to concentrate more. …You see everybody pushing themselves and you want to push yourself, especially for me because there was a few times I didn’t want to go anymore but I saw everyone pushing themselves so I didn’t stop.”
Cereceres said the ride got hard after a while because the bike seats themselves were hard.
“You get really tired,” she said. “It became really hard to keep going and you just keep yelling ‘yellow light, yellow light’ to tell people to slow down. They wouldn’t slow down and you didn’t want to be left behind so you just kept going and going.”
The trek is a family affair for the McClelland family. Doug McClelland and his wife, Kristie, participated in the first trek in 1990 when she was pregnant with their son Jacob. They have participated in every trek since, including this year’s trek.
Doug said this year’s first leg of the trip was different because they were finally able to ride the section through the canyon, which wasn’t open in previous years.
“Now we were able to get off the roads and stay on the railroad grade,” he said. “It’s very relaxed. We have a really good skilled group of people.”
Doug said the trail gives people a different look at Kittitas County.
“Most of the people here are from Western Washington and your view of Kittitas County is so different from the railroad grade than if you were on Interstate 90, which we drive all the time trying to get somewhere,” he said. “We’re slowing it down, being able to look, talk to people, share lunch — we saw a rattlesnake. That was exciting.”
Their son Jacob was on sweeper duty Sunday, riding in the back to take care of any bike maintenance issues.
“It’s a lot of deja vu,” Jacob said. “It’s the same route, and some things change for trail maintenance. … It’s just cool seeing it going from when it was just an idea and now to a fully connected trail network on these protected lands.”
The trek will wrap up on Sunday when the group arrives in Seattle.
Photo credit: Nicole Klauss