Lake Leelanau ambassador works to ensure a clear trail
The 54-year-old Lake Leelanau woman and fifth-year volunteer with the Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails, Inc. (TART) says it came naturally.
“I’d been using the trail ever since they opened up and figured why not be watching out for things,” McGlynn said. “And I was always talking it up and bringing people here and encouraging people to buy memberships and not just use the trail.”
McGlynn, who volunteers in more than a half dozen organizations, said being an ambassador was right up her alley.
“Because I was using the trail so much, I wanted to keep it clean,” McGlynn said. “I figured I’m already going to be riding, I might as well do something positive.”
“I feel people are pretty good stewards and the trail is pretty spotless,” said McGlynn, picking up a piece of yellow tape near a bush that was left behind when the trail was closed for paving. “Occasionally you’ll see a tissue that may have fallen from a lady’s pocket.
“I don’t see people throwing or leaving stuff, but have I seen a Gatorade bottle, yeah. And ... I’ve never found condoms. I don’t think people are thinking about that on the trail.”
McGlynn said keeping debris off the trail for events like the Tour de TART held last month is a high priority. She usually takes a pouch along to pick up things and brings a blower when it is needed to disperse fallen leaves.
“When we have our fall storms, it’s important to get all the stuff off the trail before the snow hits,” said McGlynn, who uses her blower to push the leaves off the trail. “And when I feel like the last fall walk has come and we’re on the cusp of winter, I make sure that all the debris and leaves aren’t left on the trail.
McGlynn said the south end of the Leelanau Trail has a lot more debris and leaves.
“If they are left on ground, the trail can get pretty slippery,” she said.
McGlynn usually rides the trail with her non-motorized trikke. She’s a certifi ed trainer and dealer for the threewheeler, which uses the cross country skiing technique to power it.
McGlynn, who said she has met a lot of nice folks in her volunteer efforts on the trail, said most of her time is spent cleaning it.
“I’m usually just picking up garbage and other things and making sure nobody is out there that needs help,” she said. “If I see people looking at the map, and if they are visitors, I’ll ask them if they need help.
McGlynn said she’s reminded daily of recently losing a fellow “trail buddy,” Mark Pleune, of Suttons Bay. He passed away April 21 at 67 years of age.
“His was in a wheelchair and every time I came out to work, I’d talk to him about what needed to be done and we coordinated efforts,” she said. “He was a real ambassador.
“He never rode the trail himself, but he was very focused on stewardship.”
Although getting the Leelanau Trail started was quite controversial, McGlynn said she’s glad it was built.
“I love the trail and appreciate its importance. People need to have a way to get around,” she said. ”The communities that put this together are just forward thinking.
“I think this is the area’s biggest asset.”
Since the paving of the final 6.5- miles from Lakeview Hills Road to Revold Road was completed last month, McGlynn has noticed an increase in trail use.
“It is so busy,” McGlynn said. “It didn’t use to be that way at Revold.
“You can’t believe how much traffic there has been since they paved it — it’s doubled.”
A former Department of Human Service and Leelanau County Historical Society employee, who now does cottage rentals with the Leelanau Boat Club, understands the value of volunteering.
Of all McGlynn’s volunteer efforts, however, TART is the most relaxing.
“A lot of the volunteering I do is social service-type,” she said. “This is something I do to feed my soul.”
McGlynn said being an ambassador is just a lower echelon volunteer for TART.
“There’s a whole host of people that do way more than I do,” she said. “And all the other people are doing the hard labor.
“I’m just a minion that loves to be out on the trail.”
Still she plays a vital role, according Lee Maynard, TART’s trail planning and program director.
“The ambassador program is a volunteer driven program of trail enthusiasts who contribute to the community,” Maynard said. “Ambassadors like Egan are critical to the sustainability, safety, upkeep and vibrancy of the various trail systems, which range from Suttons Bay to Acme and beyond.”
McGlynn said she doesn’t need accolades for doing her trail work.
“The reward is a clear path,” she said. “I just love this trail with a passion.
“It’s one of the best things we have going in northern Michigan.”