E. Lake Sammamish Trail
For decades, homeowners along the shores of E. Lake Sammamish enjoyed the benefits of adopting for use, the unused railway bed. For some, it ran behind their multi million dollar houses (even a shack is worth a million on the lake). For some it ran in front. In 1996, the land reverted back to the county under the Rails for Trails program. This would create a precious link to an already extensive trail system of about 40 miles. What a wonderful opportunity for the public to get out, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors. But No. For more than a decade, the homeowners fought the county until in 2005 finally, the county was given the go ahead. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/eastsidenews/2002270517_trail11e.html
This summer I've been running on the trail. There is almost no public access. Every driveway and roadway linking the houses to the main arterial, have "no trail access" signs prominently posted. Because the homeowners are still fighting and resisting (and costing us tax payers a lot of money), the trail is not yet finished. It has at least been leveled and coated with gravel. I can't run with Nala, because those little stones would drive her bonkers. We've been told it will eventually be paved. Not holding my breath.
The homeowners' arguments have run the gamut from: their rights to assume this land is theirs, claims that wetlands will be impacted, claims that the crowded loud trail will be filled with rowdies who will pose a threat to their safety and well being. I have never seen more than a dozen people on the trail in the time it takes me to go back and forth on my run.
It is about 7:00 pm when I start off. I'm a little later than I mean to be. It was in the mid 90s and I was stalling. Seattle summers are particularly wonderful because it remains light for so long. During solstice darkness won't fall until almost 10:00 pm. Alas, each day is becoming shorter. And I am late.
I run down the empty path. It is still in the 80s but there is a slight cool breeze from the lake. I pass two people picking blackberries, one other jogger, and two people on mountain bikes - because you would fall over riding on all that gravel otherwise. A typical non-crowd. All is well until I turn around to head back. I need to put my sunglasses on top of my hat because it is a bit too dark. I still have awhile to go. Gnats are flying everywhere. In my mouth, blech. I spit them out. They are hitting my face and neck and sticking to my sweat/sunscreen. I put my sunglasses back on because they are getting in my eyes. I'm remembering why it is best not to run in the evenings near water.
Now this evening I've seen several Peter cottontails, and little birdies, squirrels and slugs. The typical northwest trail wildlife. But there is something else . As I pass a beautiful house with manicured grounds, I see a little shadow run back and forth. Hmmmm. Can't quite make it out. Keep running, pass more houses. Hey - there's another one and this time I see it. I take off my sunglasses and put them back on my hat again. Who cares about the gnats. Because as I pass yet another house, out from the bushes it comes heading for my right shoe. I let out a screech and do the high step. It does an about face and scurries back to the bush. Yes indeed. Oh yes that's exactly what they are. Rats!