In case you missed it, Tuesday heralded the grand opening of the first trailhead for the Rogue River Greenway.

In case you missed it, Tuesday heralded the grand opening of the first trailhead for the Rogue River Greenway.

A huge ribbon was cut with an equally huge pair of scissors, thus officially marking the debut of the trail, which curves under the new Depot Street Bridge and heads off along the Rogue River toward Valley of the Rogue State Park.

The local veterans group had placed dozens of flags on both sides of the bridge. The flags fluttered over the river as kids fished and geese honked below. The sight was as Norman Rockwell as any small town can offer.

Glasses of sparkling cider were offered to those assembled on the sweeping concrete path that afternoon. Politicos, park and county representatives and community folk of assorted ilk congratulated the Greenway board members for a job well done. They received kudos for their own efforts from Greenway Chairwoman Shayne Maxwell.

I was there, too, reminiscing with Rogue River City Administrator Mark Reagles about a bitching session we'd had about five years ago.

"I'm sick of leaping over road kill and dodging logging trucks on Highway 99," I whined then. "Why can't there be a nice little path along the Rogue River nearby?"

Reagles and Councilman John Bond concurred. Wouldn't it be great if the trail went from town to Valley of the Rogue State Park? they said.

Why doesn't someone make one? I asked.

Reagles told Maxwell, who grew up enjoying the bike paths in Tiberon, Calif., about our crabby conversation.

And the path was set.

Maxwell (aka the Phone Lady) was fresh from her victory getting phone companies to offer reasonable rates to Southern Oregonians. She was also at the end of her rope over the dearth of walker-friendly routes at our end of the valley.

"I'm sick and tired of jumping into ditches near Foots Creek to avoid becoming a traffic fatality," she said.

The next thing I remember is being conscripted into a forced march.

"We're all going to map out the trail this morning. Be there at nine, or I'll come get you," Maxwell said.

I arrived in what seemed a reasonable safari outfit — white pants, shirt and tennis shoes. Maxwell was similarly dressed, and had brought along her puppy.

"Two city girls," Reagles mocked. "Don't know better than to wear white on a hike."

By the time we left City Hall, the sun was already hot and the air humid.

"It's like breathing through a wet washcloth," I groused.

As we scrambled under barbed-wire fences and through blackberry brambles and waist-high grasses, we searched for the path of least resistance, and the most opportunities to enjoy river views.

We also encountered some of the local wildlife along the way.

"What's that tawny shape?" I asked, pointing to an area of dense brush near the river.

"Good God almighty," said Maxwell, untangling herself from Rowdy's retractable leash as the helpful park ranger informed us about recent cougar sightings in the area.

At another point along our heated march, we found a sofa, chairs, tarps and all the necessary accoutrements for a meth lab.

"Look! A hobo camp!" said one innocent lady, also along for the walk.

At Valley of the Rogue, a chorus of hallelujahs broke out as Hope Warren was waiting with the sag wagon.

"I can take you back," she said. "Unless anyone wa nts to walk it again."

In a mad scramble, we all climbed aboard, grateful for the padded seats and the cool air-conditioning.

As Reagles, now a member of the Greenway board, reminisced about that walk, he also marveled at how far the project had progressed from inception.

The blackberries, trash and other undesirable objects are gone. In their place, after countless hours and more than $300,000, this section of the Rogue River Greenway is complete.

"That seems so long ago," he said. "I really am amazed."

Reagles praised Maxwell's vision, energy and ability to get the task accomplished. And grinned again as he described her reactions as we'd hacked through the shrubs that sweltering summer's day.

"Poor Shayne," he said. "It was like we were heading into the wilderness for her."

Then he remarked again about our white ensembles.

I reminded him that those who wore white were able to spot blood-sucking ticks and remove them before they took up residence in our nether regions.

"Others of us filled City Hall with loud squawking noises and muffled curses upon their visit to the loo. Remember?" I said.

"Oh, no! You're not going to talk about that, are you?" he asked, flushing.

Well, of course. Memories are for sharing.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.