Mount Peak trail named in honor of Magnusson
April 30, 2009 · Updated 4:42 PM
"It was a great day to honor our friend Cal," said someone among the 50 or more who gathered in the warm afternoon cloud cover at the Mount Peak trailhead last week to pay tribute to Enumclaw's Cal Magnusson. They flocked to the popular hiking spot Wednesday to witness the trail being renamed in Magnusson's honor.
"It's a great honor to have your name attached to a piece of geography," Magnusson said to the crowd from his folding camp chair near a massive stone into which his name has been engraved. "Especially one so many people use."
Friends and fellow Mount Peak hikers Dick Wilson, Tom Powers and Dave Bidleman spearheaded naming the trail after Magnusson and installing the marker. Bidleman said King County, which owns the property, gave them the OK and REI, where Magnusson was "the quality assurance guy" for 26 years, picked up the tab.
In fact, many in the group and several of those who shared their "Cal" stories were REI employees, who referred to Magnusson as an icon who awed co-workers and was a hero in the outdoor industry.
Of all the significant peaks Magnusson has climbed in his lifetime, he said, Mount Peak means the most to him. That's obvious, many point out, in the love and devotion he put into maintaining it for others to use. Magnusson has been voluntarily maintaining the trail since 1975. He has hiked the one-mile trail approximately 5,000 times since then, but has slowed his pace in recent months while battling cancer.
He's quick to point out the trail is a botanist's treasure. Among his favorites is the trillium, but he will also slyly mention the unique Chinese chestnut, which, he says, is not native, because "It's made in China."
His humor was not lost on the crowd.
"I enjoyed all the years of work on the trail," he said. "I had a lot of help from other people."
He will continue to get help. Bidleman and Wilson will take over trail maintenance and a group of supporters are selling T-shirts that say, "Mount Peak Makes Everything Else Easy," to help fund maintenance costs.
Brenda Sexton can be reached at email@example.com