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Sammamish River Trail, part of the King County trail system. (Photo: Marc Smith)

Sammamish River Trail, part of the King County trail system. (Photo: Marc Smith)


The Long Walk With Susan Robb

Marcie Sillman

Early tomorrow morning, 50 hikers will set off on a four–day, 45–mile trek along the King County Trail System. It's an outdoor adventure, but it's also a public art project.


Like a lot of things, The Long Walk was a happy accident. Three years ago, a group of artists got funding to create some work along King County's regional trails system. Susan Robb was one of those not–very–inspired artists.

Robb: "Well, the original idea was that we were supposed to make work to go in these kiosks that dot the regional trail system. We were all like, well, we can do that, but that's not really gonna activate things so much."

Instead, Robb and her colleagues devised a summer–long series of installations and events, including a three–day hike. Fifty people signed up for that first hike, to walk the county trails, camping along the way.

Robb: "It was the very first one, and we had a lot to learn."

For example, ordering pizzas for hungry hikers? Not the most nutritious fodder. This year Robb has The Long Walk down pat. The group leaves from Golden Gardens, on Puget Sound, and ends the walk Sunday at Snoqualmie Falls. Although it sounds great for outdoorsy types, is it art?

Susan Robb says The Long Walk is part of her larger artistic exploration of people, places and our search for utopia. Robb thinks we may find that utopia in communities like The Long Walkers.

Robb: "I have this idea that the people that we walk with become sort of our family or the people that we care about. It's lodged deep within our minds, this Ur knowledge about our tribe."

Registration for this year's Long Walk filled up in three minutes. But artist Susan Robb says the general public is invited to the Mid–Point Mashup on Friday evening at McCormick Park in Duvall. Robb says non hikers can bring a picnic dinner and join the walkers for an evening of performances and art installations.

I'm Marcie Sillman, KUOW News.

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