Young Philanthropist Helps Save Lake Serene Trail
Major gift honors a friend and a final hike together
January 08, 2018
By Kristin Dizon, Director of Communications
On a summer day in 2017, a young woman stood next to a crystal blue jewel of a lake, ringed by rock faces and white snowfield patches. She cried and embraced her friend. The journey had taken five arduous hours and many times, she had wanted to turn back.
For Seattle Foundation philanthropist Dylan, who prefers to remain anonymous, it was this memory of a special hike to Lake Serene with her friend Myranda Myers that triggered a meaningful gift.
Dylan, in honor and memory of Myranda, who passed away in October 2017, donated the keystone amount of $100,000 needed to secure the Lake Serene Trail in Snohomish County from being clear cut near the path.
Through a deal brokered by conservation leader Forterra, the public, Snohomish County and donors like Dylan came together to preserve the forested land that the trail runs through. Current landowner Weyerhaeuser will log for the last time a section of the property far removed from the trail, then transfer the 190-acre parcel to Forterra in 2018. More than 45,000 hikers enjoy this eight-mile round trip hike or portions of it every year. The trail lies in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest off of Route 2 near Index.
Myranda had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma/PNET (primitive neuroectodermal tumors) in July 2014 at age 24. She and Dylan had known each other for a decade and were the kind of friends who could go for months without talking, and then start up again like no time had passed. Myranda went through 18 months of treatments including surgical removal of a six-pound tumor attached to her kidney and rounds of chemotherapy, all while battling infections in the ICU.
In 2016, Myranda stopped treatment and was given nine months to a year to live. “Myranda spent the year with friends and family completing her bucket list,” said Dylan. “She passed the doctor’s timelines more than once. Cancer didn’t win, she did.”
In July of 2016, Myranda asked Dylan to take her on one last hike. They asked for trail suggestions on Facebook and the resounding recommendation was Lake Serene. A few days later, they made the drive and started the hike. They took many short breaks to catch their breath and let Myranda rest. The cancer had recently spread to her lungs.
“I kept encouraging her because I wanted her to prove to herself that she could still do anything; she was stronger than she thought she was,” recalls Dylan.
They slogged on, passing a group that had turned back without reaching the top. Myranda and Dylan made it. They hugged and wept.
More than a year later, in October 2017, Myranda passed away.
A few days later, Dylan heard a call on the news for donors to help save the Lake Serene trailhead. A young philanthropist who is one of six grandchildren working to preserve her grandmother’s legacy, Dylan gives regularly to organizations and causes that save animals. She thought of that special day with Myranda hiking to the lake, and decided to approach Forterra with a key gift of $100,000, helping the organization meet an Oct. 31 deadline to enter a purchase agreement for the land.
“This gift helped us reach our goal and has triggered others to come to the table,” said Susannah Hale, Director of Major Gifts and Special Campaigns for Forterra. “This campaign was about people stepping up to care for the places they love.”
It is also helping unlock other parts of a sequential land purchase with Weyerhaeuser to save other parcels in the same forrest corridor.
Now, Dylan and Forterra are working together to find a way to honor Myranda Myers on the Lake Serene trail. Dylan is thinking that perhaps a bench, where someone could find respite on the trail and soak in the majesty, would be a fitting tribute.