a dream

hiking kids 3

I suppose that it is a fairly common part of middle- and old-age to wonder what we would have happened had we taken the other fork in the road? (Otherwise there wouldn’t be red sports cars.)

What would I be doing had I stayed in Minneapolis, rather than moving to the Big Bend thirteen years ago? I had a dream a couple nights ago in which the answer to this question became obviously clear to me.

I probably would have extended my involvement in the creation of an urban trail system and built on my interest in youth development by being a part of back-to-nature youth hiking clubs (much like the Wandervogel Movement of more than a hundred years ago).

A journalist acquaintance named Jay Walljasper wrote that by the end of 2012, Minneapolis would have over 184 miles of paved trails. (Jay says that the city of Minneapolis claims 178 miles of trails right now—not so great a difference).

Surprisingly, there is now so much trail-making activity in the Twin Cities, no centralized and comprehensive data base for trails apparently exists. I suppose that no one is even counting dirt and chipped footpaths, which can have a way of being created almost on their own. But I would guess that, were the metro area’s suburbs taken into account, Walljasper’s number would be at least three to five times as large.

What my involvement in trails accomplished was a renewed interest by urban planners in connecting these trails and creating an interlinked system that could be accessed by any neighborhood in the city. Vowed city transportation planner Donald Pflaum, by 2020 almost every Minneapolis city resident will live within a mile of an off-street bikeway and within a half-mile of a bike lane.

What a resource!

If I had stayed in Minneapolis, it would have been foolish not to build on this foundation after having been on the ground floor of such a transformative urban movement. By emphasizing hiking (which does not involve the expense of a bike) and exploration of all parts of the city, a truly large number of kids could have been reached by trustworthy mentors. Some (but not all) endure some form of family violence. How many of them could have been saved from an awful home life?

However, instead of focusing on an urban area where there is a vast and enthusiastic interest in trails, I moved to one of the most remote places in America which happens to be one of the premiere hiking destinations in the world. I don’t regret it, except to say that relocating here has made my task much more difficult (some would say impossible) because of Big Bend’s remoteness.

Well, you can’t do everything. Similar problems, different ways.

I am happy I had that dream. It imbued the next day with a nice buzz. How many people are ever given the knowledge of how things might have been, been intrigued by the possibilities, yet felt no regrets?

hiking kids 6


Groove of the Day

Listen to James Taylor performing “Walking Man”


1 Response to “a dream”

  1. 1 anonymouse
    August 6, 2014 at 1:01 am

    An honorable effort, Dan. Reminds me of the extensive running and bike trail system in Eugene, Oregon, an effort begun in the early ’70s.

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