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March on Coupeville

It’s not quite time for fall harvest festivals, Uniquely Whidbey Tradeshow, a bed and breakfast tour and Central Whidbey’s kite festival. But this weekend, the first fall celebration descends on Central Whidbey as volksfesting volksmarchers wander Coupeville’s environs.

Volksporting, that’s “folks sport,” got its start in Germany and the sport includes walking, skiing and skating. Today, volksporting clubs circle the globe.

Along shorelines, across hills, through forests, trails etch Whidbey Island, which makes it a perfect location for volksmarching.

This weekend, several hundred walkers will be taking a hike on Central Whidbey. Tulip Trekkers, a local group of Volksmarchers, present the second biennial Walk across Whidbey, Sept. 10, 11 and 12. People with even a modest sense of adventure and the ability to walk are welcome.

Curt Myron, a North Whidbey resident and ardent volksmarcher, expects 400 people to descend on Whidbey. Myron, a regional director for the sport, said he’s looking for residents of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia to form the bulk of the walkers with additions from just about any other state or province. He bases his predictions on counts of those who attended previous island walks.

“People who walked our first Volksfest two years ago, loved it,” Myron said. And many people enjoyed last year’s Fort Casey volksmarch, he added. The 2003 walk at Fort Casey drew 150 people.

“I’m moving slowly (on walks),” Myron said.. “I see things I don’t usually see. And people are always fun to meet and talk to.”

While public trails ramble across Coupeville and Central Whidbey, specially arranged volksmarches cover private lands on Jenne and Sherman farms. Myron said walkers praised the 2002 routes.

“So many people said they’d never walked over farmland.”

People may walk the Farm Heritage route all three days. Some routes will be day-specific. For a Sunday morning route, people will be bused to Monroe Landing and then walk back to Coupeville.

“That route’s unique,” Myron said. “We’ve never tried moving people. We’re trying something new.”

According to Myron, traditional walks start and end at the same location. And, he said, many walks end at a different location and people are ferried to the beginning.

“We’ll see how this works,” he said.

Each of the weekend’s trail will be clearly marked, and last walkers and sweepers will make sure strollers aren’t left on trails, Myron said.

Volksmarchers consider the economy and ecology of the area when planning routes in addition to monitoring numbers of walkers.

Friday night’s Mayor’s Walk will explore the town of Coupeville.

“At the last one, Mayor Conard walked the complete route and gave several people local restaurant recommendations,” Myron said. Saturday night, a salmon barbecue hosted by Soroptomists will support that group’s community programs. Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Boy Scouts will sell hot dogs to bolster the walkers’ blood sugar.

“The salmon bake is $10 per person,” Myron said. “They’re planning for 400 people.” Sunday’s walk will end in Coupeville’s Town Park where musicians will perform.

As for the local ecology, Myron’s a docent of Ebey’s Bluff. That walk won’t be on the program.

“The bluff’s too fragile for several hundred people to walk over at one time,” Myron said. While one of Central Whidbey’s great walks won’t be covered by Volksmarchers, Myron said people will see landscapes not usually observed.

“You move slowly (you’re not in a car) and see so much you never see,” he said.

Join the volks

People don’t need to know a word of German to join group walks. Simply register at Coupeville’s Rec Hall at Alexander and Madrona streets and carry a route card. Registering and submitting cards let sweepers — people who walk the routes to collect any stragglers — know how many folks to find. Go to www.nwtrekkers.org.

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