Guest Opinion: Ditch Trail hikes will continue

I would like to follow up on the article "Public vs. private," the dispute over the parking area on the Ditch Trail, in the Tidings Aug. 28.

The day before the article was published, I had an incident in the parking lot. That morning, I hiked as I do, three times a week, with my golden retriever, Clover. I opened my car door let her out, locked the door, and walked for about 35 minutes. When I returned to the parking lot two women I recognized from the trail were in the parking lot, upset and holding a flier that had been placed on their windshield while they were walking.

It was the same flier and sign mentioned in the article: PRIVATE DRIVEWAY ENTRANCE, etc. The landowner was standing on her hillside about 20 feet uphill from the parking lot, watching us. I had seen her before, shouting at people parking in the lot from farther up the hill.

Within a minute to two, an Ashland Police officer arrived. The officer advised us professionally and pleasantly to park elsewhere, and added that she, too, was a dog walker. After we dispersed, I approached my car and noticed two thing: one, the flier on my window and two, my tire, which was nearly flat.

I eased the car down the hill to my home and called a tow truck. The mechanic said, “There is nothing wrong with your tire, see here? I can press on the pressure valve and there is still air in the tire. If it was punctured the air would be completely out. A slow leak doesn't happen that quickly.” I asked if it was possible that someone let the air out of my tire and he responded, “That's the only way this could happen.” Just to be sure I had him remove the tire and took it in to my tire company. Same conclusion, no leaks, no damage. Air had been released.

I have no proof that someone let the air out of my tire while I was hiking. However, for the rest of my fellow hikers: Parkers beware. I went to the Ashland Police to report the incident, and I asked where I should park. They advised around the corner, in the neighborhood.

The TID is a public trail. We have been hiking it respectfully for years and intend to continue to do so. To all homeowners on the hill, we will either park in back of the property with their cooperation, or we will park in front along Skycrest, Grandview, Sunny View and along the other streets at the top of the hill.

Hikers anywhere in the world are protectors of natural beauty. On the TID trail, we protect each other. We start stalled cars, warn against bears, find lost keepsakes and make friends. We are householders, professionals, OSF performers, long-distance runners, grandparents and grandchildren.

Ashland is a small town of intelligent people with long memories. It is a choice: isolation or neighborly connection.

— Karen Campbell lives in Ashland.

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