Monday, February 16, 2015

Magnolia & Interbay - Final Bits of the Seattle Loop

Aurora Bridge from Fremont Bridge
Bertona Stairway, near 15th Avenue
I jumped on bus #33 at Gilman & 24th in Magnolia on Saturday night. As such, that was where I should have returned to start hiking this morning. Logistical concerns had me start at the other end, though, back at the Fremont Troll, where I'd begun last Monday midday. I was met by a friend, and we began our walk down hill to the Fremont Bridge, crossed over and walked along the Fremont Cut of the Ship Canal. The day's weather was glorious. We walked up and around Seattle Pacific University's campus, both of us commenting on how much larger the campus was than we had previously known. We found the two final long stairways along the route and crossed underneath busy 15th Avenue. I munched on carrots as we meandered along, enjoying the vitamin D and warm weather. We stopped at a convenience store to use the bathroom, and I purchased a V8 and cheese stick. A delicious combination. We continued along Gilman Avenue, which then becomes Government Way, a stretch my friend described as 'boring, so boring, like so much of west Seattle, aside from the beaches part.' I enjoyed being able to see the train yard below. We took the bike route down to the Ballard Locks, walked across and finished our hike at the Lock Spot Cafe, where we enjoyed a celebratory lunch.

I'm glad to have successfully completed the route. I'd like to do it again sometime, in fewer days and with a quicker pace, probably counter-clockwise next time, to change things up. There's an additional 20 mile extension that catches four of the other farther-flung stairways. I hope to do that part next month. I have fallen in love with stairways and my city, again.

Ruffner Stairway, near the Ship Canal

Hiking with a friend

Bike & Pedestrian Route over the Great Northern RR Line

Ballard Locks with water flowing fast

Surprise reminder

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Queen Anne & Magnolia - Day Five of Walking the Seattle Route

I got back to walking today after having a day off yesterday due to work. This is a difference of walking an urban route in my own city. I have other things to do in addition to walking, since I'm 'home,' and so this route is ending up taking longer than I had hoped. I started in Belltown and quickly made my way to Queen Anne. The first few blocks of steep uphill burned in my calves and my lungs. I wondered at feeling so out of shape; I had expected to be reaping rewards by this point of my earlier exercise. The day was gorgeous - clear skies and bright winter sun. The flowers have begun to bloom in parks and yards. I walked part of the day in comfortably in shirt sleeves because the day was warm and the climbs caused my upper body to soak itself in sweat. This route includes those stairways that have at least 100 steps in them, which sometimes means walking right by a stairway in search of a longer one. That happened many times on Queen Anne, and is the reason that I didn't see north Queen Anne at all today. Walking the circumference of Magnolia allowed me to see it in its entirety, how very large it is, and to walk two stairways that I certainly wouldn't have seen otherwise. They were tucked down below the grand vistas of Magnolia Blvd West. Evening fell fast while I hiked my final miles through Discovery Park, managing to find both of the long stairways hidden away deep in the park. I had arrived to start hiking by bus, and I again took the bus at the close of the day. I'm grateful for excellent public transportation. 
Bonus: 8 year old performing in Yo-Yo Competition happening at Seattle Center

Moss abounds - quite a difference from Los Angeles Stairs 

Galer Street stairs - down, down, down

So clean & well maintained! 

Lake Union in the background, descending from Queen Anne

Hello, Beautiful City

West Seattle & Alki in the distance from west Queen Anne

Walking through Kinnear Park

Happiness caused by my friend Katherine

Interbay Railroad Yard & Bike Route

In excellent shape after many decades

Discovery Park's view of Puget Sound

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Rougher parts of south Seattle & Downtown with Glorious Weather - Day Four of Michael Yadrick's Route

I rode bus 124 up from Tukwila to start today's hike at Spokane Street & Busway. It made sense to stop there last night because it was just prior to going through more industrial areas with little foot traffic and thus lacking the feelings of safety that come with other pedestrians. In any case, it made for an anticlimactic start but it did introduce me to a number of stairs and areas where I hadn't been before on foot. 

The best parts came a few miles in, though, when I walked right through the International District and then over the Yesler bridge into downtown. I walked for a total of three hours, which was what I could squeeze in around today's other activities. It felt good to be out pushing my heart and legs to get me up and down. I cut the day short due to a dead phone battery (no maps without my phone), since I forgot to pack the correct cord to charge it from my back up battery. As a result, I have no photos of Pike's place market, where I bought myself a celebratory pork bun. 

The Spokane Street stairs allow a pedestrian to get up on north Beacon Hill. 

Filthy stairs underneath the Spokane Street ramp to Beacon Hill

Accurate representation of the Jungle's condition

Coming down from the northern tip of Beacon Hill 

Crossing the Jose Rizal Bridge into the International District

Ironwork on Jose Rizal bridge

Stairs connecting International District with Yesler Terrace

Illegal encampments on one side, construction of new buildings on the other

I love this view - from the Yesler Street bridge over I5

Descending through downtown's 'Freeway Park' 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

West Seattle's Alki & Up, then under a few bridges - Day Three

My day was full of work and school, and so I had time just for 2.5 hours of walking this evening. As I began walking, I thought to myself, why am I even bothering when I may only be able to walk for an hour. I could have a relaxing evening or go to the track, like I had planned. And then I remembered something Ray Jardine said in his 'Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook.' He said if a person really wants to do hiking, big or small, if they want it bad enough, they can and will figure out how to make it work, they'll figure ways to save the money and find the time. And what good fortune that I'm doing a route right in my own city, where I can logistically make it work to walk for a couple of hours on a Wednesday evening. And so I walked down the Spokane Street stairway and on over to Alki. The tide was low, and I took advantage, walking on smooth rocks that would usually be under five feet of water. The light was quickly fading from the sky, a tugboat slowly pulled a barge and there were others out enjoying this fine winter evening of no rain and high fifties, quite pleasant if one keeps moving. 
I encountered a number of stairways that were new to me, and that provide excellent views of Puget Sound, looking north towards Magnolia and Discovery Park, some ten miles distant by water. I could see from above the route that Reed & I kayaked on Christmas Day. Gorgeous, this place where land meets water on almost every side. 

Looking rather stunned and bleary after a full day. I finally was able to retrieve my poles! 

New-to-me Stairs on Bonair Drive Stairs

Hughes Stairway (continued on for another block)

Hughes from above - day light gone as I head into muddy Duwamish Head Ravine

Charlestown Stairs & West Seattle Bridge in background

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

All around the South End - Seattle's Beautiful Stairs - Day Two

In Seattle, stairs are counted differently than in Los Angeles. For the route I'm currently walking, there must be at least 100 stairs to qualify for inclusion. This helps explain why I walked right by some sets of stairs, and wound around to collect others. My favorite of the day was deep in SW corner of West Seattle, south of the Fauntleroy Ferry, tucked back in a beautiful neighborhood. It was constructed of plastic boards, covered in textured tar paper to prevent slipping and wound around between property lines. It emerged at the top from beside a car garage, an entry I wouldn't have been able to find.

I've been struggling with the maps for this route. They're loaded on my phone, through the google earth app, which has a tendency to crash after every second or so photo taken, and sometimes at other provocations. This has caused me to use caution when snapping photos, because losing my maps in a ravine or park sometimes means that I can't reload them until I get out of the ravine. All this to say, I don't have a photo of my favorite stairs, because it wasn't worth the risk of crashing my maps at that point in the day.

I walked from 8:30 am until about 7pm, with a number of stops along the way, but none that involved sitting. I bought food at a few places, and walked with it while I ate. The day's temperatures were pleasant at a walking pace, but would have been frigid if I had sat down for any length. There was almost no rain all day long, and enough sun throughout the day to have given me a light sunburn on my face. Thinking back over the stairs and parts of the city that I saw today, I am surprised at how much I saw and how much ground I covered. I don't know how far I went, only that I about reached my limit and was grateful to finish at my apartment in West Seattle, and sit down to a meal cooked by my husband.

Starting out on the stairs adjacent to I90
Transportation! Crossing into Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood

Pedestrian portion of Bridge over Duwamish River

The Duwamish River - an active waterway

Trail through the West Duwamish Greenbelt

Muddy Conditions even without new rain

Hidden away near S Seattle Community College

This design reminds me of LA stairs

Puget Sound from Lincoln Park

One of two sets in Lincoln Park

Monday, February 9, 2015

Seattle's Stairs - Walking Michael Yadrick's 80 mile Route - Day One

I returned from Los Angeles a few weeks ago, where I walked quite a few sets of public stairways. That experience trained my eyes to look for stairs, to spot the subtle differences between a set that would lead to a home and one that would lead to the street above. Back home in Seattle, I've been looking around and spotting stairways all around the city. I've been out on a few walks in various Seattle neighborhoods (Shilshole, South Park, Delridge) and found a few and walked them. Each time I walk a new stairway, I experience delight and excitement. While in Los Angeles walking stairs, I was alerted by Andrew Lichtman to the existence of a route through Seattle that incorporated many of the Seattle's stairs. I was excited at the prospect of walking the route. Well, this week I am undertaking Michael Yadrick's 80 mile loop route. This is an expansion of his 60+ mile loop that was attempted by a number of stair-runners last summer.

Today I began the route at the Fremont Troll, located underneath Aurora Avenue. The first set of stairs took me out of the troll's 'cave' and through the beautiful neighborhood of Wallingford.
The Fremont Troll underneath Highway 99

I started walking about noon today after being deposited by the bus just a few blocks from the Troll. There were three good options for getting close to the start, which confirmed my good fortune at living in an area with great public transport.

I had a great day out walking my city, a place I've spent more than 6 years. I've done quite a bit of running and urban hiking during those years, and even so, I saw many new places today while walking this route.

New to me stairs near U Village

Stairs & Gardens - one of Seattle's P-Patches

Acres of parking and Husky Stadium in the distance 
Crossing the Montlake Bridge

At the time, I wanted protein, but later in the day I wished that I had purchased some of these. I may be making a trip back to the Montlake Market.  
A difference kind of stairs - in one of many natural areas that the route traversed. 

View from the backside of Capitol Hill / Interlaken neighborhood

Fitness! on the Howe Street Stairs

Yes, these are 'stairs' near the Blaine Street Stairs

Spring has come to the Streissguth Gardens

The views from Capitol Hill were awesome

Winding down through Madrona to Lake Wahington Blvd.