• New rest area is a quarter of a mile down Billie Fisher Cottonwood Trail
By Randi Somers
Well-known artist Toby Tyler was accompanied by several friends and admirers on a hike down the Wynn Nature Center’s newest trail, the Billie Fischer Cottonwood Trail, Friday evening. The walk ended in a dedication ceremony of a rest area named for him.
The rest and the trail are marked by artistic signs crafted by Moose Run Metalsmith’s Teri Thurman.
The benches in the Tyler rest area are also works of art, created by Ben Gibson, from aged cedar driftwood brought from the outer coast, with copper arm rests. And appropriately for an artist’s rest area, the panoramic view reveals the beauty of Kachemak Bay and the mountains and glaciers.
Mother Nature adds her art to the trail with fields of wildflowers and towering spruce. Tyler couldn’t resist answering questions about plants along the trial, while plucking the heads off dandelions to prevent their spread and tossing away dry limbs that had fallen on the trail.
Before the hike, Tyler’s friends shared favorite stories about him before long-time friend Daisy Lee Bitter took the stage at the reception to royally roast him, telling tales from their long history. She noted that he frequently gives his art away for fundraisers.
“What stands out,” she concluded, “any time I asked Toby for help, he never let me down.”
The Center for Alaska Coastal Studies Program hosted the reception with a long table of snacks, drinks and an elaborate cake. Then, the group drove half a mile down East Skyline Drive and hiked the quarter mile to the Fischer trail to Tyler’s rest where he cut the ribbon and then rested on one of Gibson’s benches.
Created in 2007-8 and named for Carl Wynn’s daughter Billie Fischer, who also donated land, the trail is on the downhill side of Skyline, and half a mile below the Wynn headquarters.
Tyler has volunteered with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies for more than 30 of his 50 years here. He has led many walks on the trails that he helped build, sharing his knowledge and love of the plants that grace the trails.
The entrance to the new trail is not visible from the road but maps and guides are available at Wynn headquarters. Beth Trowbridge, program director for the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies, said that day passes to the park for adults are $7; seniors, $6; children $5 and $20 for a family. Members need no passes. Membership is $35 for an individual or $50 for a family.
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