Former ITD engineer finds his vision for trail
around Redfish Lake drawing steadily closer
When Orion Grunerud retired from ITD as state construction engineer about three decades ago, he didn’t exactly leave the beaten path. He started designing it.
Following his retirement Grunerud and his wife Frances spent about a dozen years volunteering as camp hosts for the U.S. Forest Service’s Glacier View campground at Redfish Lake. He also spent a lot of time envisioning a handicap accessible trail that could encircle the lake, opening new vistas to people who would otherwise be unable to experience them.
His concern, according to daughter Karen, was to provide access for folks with limited mobility to visit the scenic areas and historic sites in an area Orion considered among the most beautiful in the west.
A stroke in 1992 ended their service as camp hosts, but it did not bring to close Orion’s dream of a recreational trail around Redfish. Six years later the Forest Service dedicated The Orion Grail at Outlet Campground.
“We loved the name, which is a play on his first name and on the Oregon Trail – a favorite of dad’s,” Karen wrote.
“The Forest Service invited friends, fellow camp hosts and our whole family to that dedication and provided cake and presentations. Dad was duly pleased to see his vision in the beginning stages to becoming a reality in his lifetime.”
Orion probably never expected that he would become one of its limited-mobility users. He was confined to a wheelchair when the first section of the trail was completed.
Now 91, Orion lives at Valley View Care Center and Frances, 85 lives at Hyde Park Ashley Manor in Boise. It’s difficult for them to visit the lake of their love, but the dream for a completed trail lives on. And today, it’s even closer to fruition.
Judy Funderburg, a developed recreation specialist for the Sawtooth National Forest, recently announced the trail soon will connect the campgrounds at Redfish and will be extended by a bridge over Redfish Lake creek to the city of Stanley.
“The Forest Service has acquired easements across private land between Redfish Lake and the town of Stanley and, along with the help of Jay Dorr, the engineers will begin flagging the trail this fall. There will be approximately seven miles of ‘Orion Trail ...’
“I know how deeply you feel about the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. I also know how much time and energy you have poured into the planning of the trail around Redfish Lake campgrounds … I remember all the hours you and Fran volunteered as one of the first volunteer hosts for the Forest Service.
Those of us who know you are just thrilled to know that the trail is becoming a reality.”
“(Orion) is proud to know that his dream has not died, and, in the next few years, a trail from the campgrounds to Stanley will provide hundreds of recreating folks a wonderful handicap-accessible path to walk, bike and enjoy the Sawthooths,” the Grunerud’s daughter writes.
“As his family, we are so proud of this legacy, pleased that the Forest Service has not let the project fall by the wayside, and impressed that one man can make a difference.”