Star Scout, Robert Quill, a member of the Boy Scout Troop 220 team of eight, who rode their mountain bikes over the 26th annual Key Peninsula Lions Volksmarch trail in Key Pen Parks’ 360 Trail Park. Here, Quill prepares to pound in another of the arrow-signs marking directions for walkers. Photo by Hugh McMillan, KP News

After the blistering heat of previous days abated, bringing perfect walking weather, the Key Peninsula Lions, sponsors of the club’s 26th annual Volksmarch, anticipated a large number of participants on the trails for the always scheduled first-Saturday-after-Independence-Day event. Surprisingly, it didn’t happen.

Whereas the first of the walks in 1989 was a Saturday/Sunday event that drew more than 1,200 walkers, and since then the lowest number of participants has been 100, this 2015 event had only 50 people participate.

“We were surprised that no walkers from the Key or Gig Harbor communities participated,” said Neal Van der Voorn, the event chairman.

The walk, held at Key Peninsula Parks’ 360 Trail Park, nonetheless pleased participants with the route’s layout swinging through from the park’s perimeter road.

“Many said that the trail on the east edge of the park was the most beautiful, tracking through groves of ancient trees and views of the Horseshoe Lake golf course,” said Van der Voorn. “It is a more challenging trail with several short switchbacks dropping down into small water holes and back up over little hills. When asked, several walkers thought the low turnout was due to so many events on summer weekends and a threat of rain showers.

“In my opinion,” said Van der Voorn, “it was the smoothest Volksmarch in years, with only one route, no doubling back and forth.”

To KP Lion Dan Van Antwerp, “The cool day was a welcome relief from the summer heat.”

“It made for an ideal day for walking in the quiet solitude of the 360 Trail Park. A few light sprinkles did nothing to dampen spirits of participants. Boy Scouts of Troop 220 did a masterful job of laying out directional signs. Many participants noted the ease with which they were able to follow the route through the forest,” he said.

“Despite a cold morning breeze, diehard hikers traveled from far away to participate in the annual march,” said KP Lions President Hal Wolverton. “The annual event is made possible by hard work and the combined efforts of the KP Lions and our Boy Scout Troop 220. Many hikers said this was the best Volksmarch yet and they thoroughly enjoyed the day.”

Participating walkers hailed from Seattle, Fife, Orting, Kirkland, Bellevue, Olympia, Auburn and even Vancouver, Wash.

First Class Scout Mark Lemon said, “Helping set up the Volksmarch trails was fun, even though we were working at the same time.” Lemon also participated in recovering all the trail markers after the event, for which Assistant Scoutmaster Matthew Mills counseled, “If you can join me, bring a good-sized day pack and flat-bladed screwdriver for removing staples; it should be easier to store everything in our packs that way.”

As they did on the Friday before the event when they pounded in countless directional arrows to guide walkers, on Saturday the scouts’ cleanup team rode their mountain bikes to clear the trails and remove all markers that will be used again on the Volksmarch in 2016.

“Thank you to scouts Mitchell, Robert, Blake, Nick, Mark, Alexander, Joseph and Mackenzie for helping set up and clean up the Volksmarch trail,” said Mills, who worked with the scouts both days. “The Lions Club and the Volksmarchers really appreciate your help and support.”

For information, contact Van der Voorn at nealvandervoorn@yahoo.com.

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