Walkabout celebrates tenth year

Submitted by Lopez Community Trails Network.

The Lopez Community Trails Network is passing a mile marker this summer: the Walkabout is ten years old! LCTN’s beloved annual event brings hikers together to traverse the island end to

end. The 2023 Walkabout will be held on Aug. 26 and 27.

More than a decade ago, LCTN organizers asked a hypothetical question: “Wouldn’t it be cool ifpeople could walk the length of the island, without using any roads?” Step by step, dedicated volunteers pieced together a route, linking parks and conservation lands where possible and obtaining permission from generous property owners for through-hiking. Remarkably, the dream was realized: the first annual Walkabout was held in the fall of 2013—and it was, in fact, very cool!

Twenty-nine intrepid hikers set out from the ferry landing on that first island end-to-ender.Now the Walkabout is a highlight of the Lopez calendar, and organizers accommodate over 100participants. The guided hike offers walkers a unique chance to savor island forests, fields, and coastlines while enjoying the company of diverse groups of islanders.

“It’s my favorite Lopez experience,” said Kitty Harmon, a frequent Walkabout participant.“Every year I enjoy great conversations, say hello to sheep and cows and horses and pigs, and appreciate what a very special place this is.”

Tara and Sand Dalton have taken part in the Walkabout for years. “It’s an excellent opportunity to meet new people, see new parts of the island, and get some exercise,” Tara said. “We really appreciate all the hard work and persistence of the dedicated folk who are working on the trails network.”

In the Walkabout’s early years, the routes were marked with pairs of running shoes dangling from trees. “The shoes came from Neil’s Mall,” Kirm Taylor explained recently. “They were spray-painted neon orange and pink. There are still a couple of pairs out there, where a property owner didn’t want them removed. She likes the colors.”

Taylor is a founder of LCTN. In 2009, he and Eric Hall ran an ad in the Islands Weekly inviting interested Lopezians to a meeting to talk about making Lopez more walkable. They wanted to explore the idea of establishing a system of trails linking various parts of the island. “We had no idea if anyone would show up,” Taylor said. “But 29 people did, and from that first meeting we’ve built a roster of over 600 members and established and maintained many miles of trails.”

Interested in participating in this year’s Walkabout? Hikers can choose between two hikes on both Saturday and Sunday, a northern and a southern route, each 8.5 miles. The southern route connects Iceberg Point to Lopez School, and the northern hike extends from the school to the ferry landing. Hikes begin at 9 a.m. and conclude mid-afternoon.

Sign up on the LCTN website (www.lopeztrails.org) by July 31. Hiking groups are limited to 25 participants and do fill up, so register as early as possible to secure a spot.