I’m feeling a little blue this morning. Last night I learned that Ernie Bay, community leader and trail champion extraordinaire, died.

Ernie was a personal hero of mine. I met him when I was cutting my teeth in the world of bike and trail advocacy, working on forming what would become Friends of Burke-Gilman Trail. Ernie was championing the Foothills Trail, a rail-to-trail vision of a corridor that would connect the city of Tacoma with its rural neighbors and the Cascade foothills near Mount Rainier National Park.

He invited me to attend one of his coalition meetings and I accepted. His group met weekly over lunch (that’s dedication!) to celebrate successes, discuss challenges, and strategize next steps. After the meeting, Ernie gave me a walking tour of a portion of the completed trail and filled me in on its history.

The Foothills Trail, and its view of Mount Rainier, is Ernie Bay's legacy to the community. Photo credit: Robert Ashworth
The Foothills Trail, and its view of Mount Rainier, is Ernie Bay’s legacy to the community. Photo credit: Robert Ashworth

Over the next twenty years, I continued to connect with Ernie and our visits almost always included a visit to the trail corridor. Sometimes we biked the trail. Sometimes we walked it. A couple of times we explored routes for missing links.

Ernie has left his mark on the world in a positive way and the Foothills Trail is his legacy. I will always think of him when I ride the trail. Ride on, friend.

6 thoughts on “Ernie Bay: Losing a Personal Hero

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  1. I’m sorry to hear about Mr. Ernie Bay but thankful that you shared this so that I could learn more about his contributions to the community. I appreciate your efforts along the same lines, as well. Over the years I’ve used the Burke-Gilman trail on a regular basis.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a lovely tribute to a man who obviously meant a great deal to you. We don’t always get to meet our heroes, let alone befriend them and continue their work alongside them. Keep hitting the trail–it sounds like there can be no more fitting way to honor his legacy. My sympathy to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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