Clear Creek Trail: An adventure even for the regulars

Nancy Sennett, who lives on Ridgetop, stands near a trail near her home last month. She enjoys walking Clear Creek Trail twice a week. - Kristin Okinaka
Nancy Sennett, who lives on Ridgetop, stands near a trail near her home last month. She enjoys walking Clear Creek Trail twice a week.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka

When Nancy Sennett first discovered Silverdale’s Clear Creek Trail a few years ago, she thought the sounds of nearby cars would be disruptive to her nature walks. Now she doesn’t think twice about it.

“The traffic — I don’t even hear it anymore,” Sennett said.

Sennet, 82, moved to Silverdale in July 2008 to be closer to her son after her husband died. She moved from the Adirondacks in New York and while she had visited Silverdale several times to see her son and his family, it wasn’t until she was a Silverdale resident that she discovered Clear Creek Trail.

One day as she drove past the parking lot of Harrison Medical Center’s Silverdale campus, she noticed a sign for the trail. Shortly after, she decided to see where it would take her.

“I wondered where it would go,” Sennett said. “I’m always exploring.”

Sennett took her first stroll on the trail in April 2010 and for a year, she took photos of the trail and along the trail depicting the different seasons and things she came across. She did the same photo project when she was first getting acquainted with the Adirondacks.

Her scrapbook of the images she’s captured of the trail include “a lucky day” when she got close-ups of two geese waddling with their chicks to the fall colors of trees and the aftermath of a windstorm that swept branches onto parts of the trail.

Although it’s difficult to say what her favorite part of the trail is, Sennett said ever since she was a kid, she’s always loved trees.

“I’m an honest-to-God tree hugger,” she said. “I could never live in a tree-less place.”

And, her son, Thomas Oliver, can attest to Sennett’s love for nature.

“When I was a kid, I never stayed in a hotel. We were always camping,” he said, adding that the first time he ever stayed in a hotel was when he was in his mid-20s.

Walking Clear Creek Trail is merely part of her regular routine now — she goes twice a week — and most likely contributes to her upbeat and good health. Oliver said his mother continues to be very excited whenever they walk the trail together.

“It’s like she’s introducing me to her friends,” Oliver said.

Sennett has her own names for specific parts of the trails and even certain trees. With easily more than 500 photos of the trail alone, Sennett doesn’t limit her photography to the trail. She also creates scrapbooks of vacations she has been on or of family members.

Tex Lewis, a Clear Creek Task Force member who has been a volunteer in helping to maintain and expand the trail for nearly 20 years, said the trail means different things to different people and he was interested in seeing Sennett’s relationship with the trail.

Since he typically sees the trail through the view of owners who donate their land or the children who have helped work on it, it’s always nice to get another take on it, Lewis said.

“It’s interesting to see how other people relate to the trail,” he added.

The work to the trail never ends. Lewis cleared a tree that had fallen on the trail Monday morning. He said he has a few regular walkers who will call him if anything has gone awry on the trail.

Next month, about 100 students from Central Kitsap High School will help install a new section of trail in downtown Silverdale off of Ridgetop as part of an Earth Day event.

Other projects to the trail include a new bridge near the Hop Jack’s restaurant and adding a picnic pavilion on the old Markwick property, said Lewis. The Olympic College Engineering Club is helping with the research and construction of the bridge and Lewis hopes to gather volunteers for a few work parties in the summer to help with the picnic pavilion project.

And, all the work is a payoff for residents like Sennett and others in the community who appreciate it.

“I don’t walk fast. I stop, and look at stuff. I don’t want to miss anything,” she said. “I’m just so grateful that the trail’s here. And that someone did the work to have it.”

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