Via Seattlest By Tyson Lynn in Arts and Events on August 2, 2011 4:00 PM

The Long Walk Back

As we mentioned last week, one of our writers, Tyson Lynn, participated in The Long Walk, a curated hike through King County. His pictures and thoughts on the project are below.

Photo: Tyson Lynn  – Sammamish River Trail


Cascadia by moleskin
the trails are there someone has to
put their foot down.

– Paul Nelson, from his poetical recap of The Long Walk

The King County Regional Trail System zpans over 175 miles, bounded by Bothell, Auburn, Seattle, and the Cascades. It is one of the nation’s largest trail networks, with paths for travel by hikers, equestrians, and walkers alike. And this past weekend, I and 50 other folks covered a not insignificant portion of them.The brainchild of artist Susan Robb in conjunction with 4Culture, The Long Walk is many things: an reframing of time and space, a glowing love letter to our parks and trails, an experimental venue for site-specific pieces of art, and an exercise in endurance, because 50 miles is actually quite a distance when taken on foot.

Photo: Tyson Lynn - "Passage" by Sarah Kavage. A small view of the much larger piece, a living grass braid.

Between 5:00 a.m. last Thursday at Golden Gardens and coming to a blistered rest Sunday afternoon at Snoqualmie Falls, we walkers explored Magnuson Park from beach to hangar, met the people of Duvall in a decommissioned train depot, discussed the nature of landscape by a re-purposed barn in Carnation, and tried to spot the bottom of the falls by Salish Lodge. The entire weekend was spent in engaged constitutionals, thoughtful meanders, intentional pacings.

For me—someone who does not take hikes and who had not, before this, walked more than one mile of the Burke-Gilman, even though I live in Ballard—the Walk was transformative. I did not know the extent of the trails, nor how they connected the city and the county, and I had little desire to find out. Why would I? This is why I have a truck.


Photo: Tyson Lynn - Flight Cinema by the Seattle Experimental Animation Team.

Now, I’m struck by the possibility of going cross-town via tree-shaded trails, scheduling extra time to get where I’m going, devoting weekends to hikes and undirected rambles. Why wouldn’t I? This is why I have a bike. Feet. Access.

And access, turns out, was a contentious word during the Walk. Articles from Josh Feit at Publicola and Mike Seely at Seattle Weekly went live Thursday and Friday, decrying the use of public funds on The Walk, especially since the group of Walkers themselves numbered only 50. What Seely and Feit seem to be most concerned by is whether a percentage of the public constitutes The Public and, if so, what that percentage should be.

Seely, in particular, seems particularly chuffed by it, calling me (not specifically or anything, just the Walkers in general) an “in-the-know urban scenester”. Which is true, I guess, in that I read about The Walk inThe Stranger last year and saw the open call for applicants that 4Culture put up this year. It’s true in that I was familiar with and interested by the project. There is a degree, I must allow, to which the audience for this is self-selecting, but seems to me there’s a saying about forest and trees that might be applicable.

Photo: Tyson Lynn - Snoqualmie Falls

Personally, I think most art is not for all people. The only difference here is that the size of the audience for this piece of art is specific and known. Your interaction with The Long Walk is my telling you about it. At least this year. But maybe what you read here will excite you in the same way I was excited when I read Jen Graves’ coverage in The Stranger. Maybe next year, you’ll keep an eye out for The Long Walk’s call for walkers. And maybe you’ll be as surprised as I was by the expanse and accessibility of these trails, their beauty and adventure, and without needing to wait for someone to lead you, you’ll take off on your own.
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walking up to the bicycle choir on the night of day 2 of the long walk by disconnecteddot