About nine years ago King County came to me as Trails Club Advocate for Cougar Mountain and asked my opinion on whether the new trailhead near Nike Park on Cougar Mountain should be named after Harvey Manning. I thought about it a (brief) moment, and replied that it shouldn’t. Having spent years poring over Harvey’s original trail guide and his scrawling notes in the margins, I felt I could say with confidence that he would have preferred to have the new trailhead named something else. As part of my rewrite of his guidebook Harvey suggested that I adopt his somewhat whimsical, somewhat lofty names for the different regions of the park…the Curious Valley, the Wilderness, the Precipice. I thought it would honor Harvey more to name the new Nike area trailhead after his name for that region: Sky Country. And they listened to me. Sky Country Trailhead it became.
I read in the paper the other day that the County was rebranding AA Peak “Harvey Manning Trailhead.” My immediate reaction was frustration. Didn’t they remember the whole conversation about Sky Country? In my frustration I remembered, analogously, Harvey’s famous saying about road plans: “Bad road plans are never scrapped entirely, they are just filed away.” Like the Lakemont Boulevard Harvey long opposed and which was finally built, the impetus to name a trailhead after Mr. Manning seemed impervious to my 2007 logic.
But on further reflection, I’ve come to a new conclusion. Ten years have passed since Harvey’s death. How a community remembers a titan like Harvey changes inevitably with time. The man will diminish, and become more familiar to folks as the statue near the Community Center, or these names on a map. The need to name things after Harvey is less about him now, and more about us. Our desire to honor and remember. No, I don’t think Harvey would have liked it. But we need it, and in the end I think we’re doing it for ourselves. And in 2016, I guess that’s OK.