Trailblazers: Bill AndersonHe refers to himself as sort of a necessary evil when it came to his role in getting the Superior Hiking Trail Association organized.
He refers to himself as sort of a necessary evil when it came to his role in getting the Superior Hiking Trail Association organized.
He had his “fingers in everything” except actually going out and building the trail. Someone had to build the association.
There were enough of the outdoors guys, he said.
Anderson, now 85, ended up in Duluth fresh into retirement and from a through-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 1984.
“I was trail happy,” he said, and couldn’t pass up any effort to replicate the famous eastern trail along the North Shore.
He was the editor of the association newsletter and in charge of keeping track of memberships.
His first big task, he recalled, was updating a list with only names. No phone numbers, no addresses. “We basically took their money and ran,” he said of the task before him. “Hours and hours” of phonebook work later and the task was done.
He was member 61 himself but the small beginnings belied the vision in the volunteers. “I think we were looking very big from Day One,” Anderson said.
Anderson has been away from trail work for while now. He’s known as part of the family-owned Hepzibah’s candy store in Duluth’s Canal Park.
He learned how long its been in recent times as he was out on some acreage he owns north of Two Harbors. One day he recognized trail planner John Green looking like he had plans to blaze trail. Anderson said everything “comes around.”
He said he offered some advice on where the trail “should go” and laughed.
Anderson pushed people to get results, which mostly resulted in volunteer’s having indelible memories of him and a necessary “character” for moments of levity.
And they ribbed him back then just as hard when he misspelled Britton Peak on celebration T-shirts. “Collector’s item,” he said.
He recalled an award he was supposed to receive for his part in the trail but he had to tend to a business emergency. ‘They probably said ‘That’s Bill.’”
“I don’t burn bridges,” Anderson said. “They just spontaneously combust behind me.”
Those hectic trail days are over but somewhere in Anderson’s gruff nature is a spark of pride in accomplishment. “It’s been a long walk,” he said. “It was a grand venture. It’s a great trail.”