Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Seattle Stairway 100K stage 4

Today's stretch was a solo jaunt -- we had considered doing it on Sunday morning, but the weather forecast was for rain. Imagine our surprise when the sunny morning turned into a sunny midday ... not a drop of rain.

I then decided I would do the walk on Monday morning, as the forecast was for brighter weather... and then woke up at 6:30 to a torrential downpour. Okayyyy, fine, I'll do an indoor project. Except that by 8:30 the sky was blue again. So back to plan A. Or was that plan B???

I took the bus to the start at Delridge and Holden. Amusing to ride the bus and see all the places our walks crossed this key road!

This leg started right up some stairs:

Holden Stairway, 135 stairs

I love seeing the little walking figure on these pedestrian "street" signs.

I don't know why, but this stairway reminded me of my childhood. Even looking at the picture I feel that way, though I can't actually picture any stairs like this in my memory. (Maybe the stairs down from Woodway High School?)

The stairs were tidy, looked as if they were used frequently, and had a funny "plaza" at the top, with two exits. Odd.

I should point out that this stretch only has three stairways, so to get one out of the way right off the bat made me feel like I was farther along than I was!

The route followed Holden up the hill until it dead-ended at Highland Park Way. The sidewalk (seen from across the street in the picture below) also dead-ended. So I had to scamper across the busy four-lane road with nary a crosswalk or traffic signal in sight.

No harm, no foul, however (it was after 10am by this point), and I turned and headed down the hill.

I have never been on this road before -- it travels from White Center down to the Duwamish Waterway.  I should point out that I got slightly drizzled on during this stretch ... just enough to make me put on my Gore-tex jacket, which promptly made the rain stop.

On the map it looked like I might need to perform a weird out and back to cross Marginal Way, but there were clear crosswalks. (No idea why the map takes a weird turn here!) Once across Marginal, I rejoined the Duwamish Trail -- a nicely maintained, well signed shared-use path.

Okay, so it's not particularly scenic, passing port buildings and winding around bridges, but it's better than nothing. And I do like a city that still has industry. A curving ramp carried me up onto the 1st Avenue South Bridge...

... where I caught a tiny glimpse of the Duwamish in its "natural" state. Yeah, I know, it's surrounded by concrete, buuuuut.

I can almost imagine wildlife living down there ...
Then up onto the bridge proper:

And a nice, calm view of the Duwamish Waterway in its non-natural form...

Amusing that it had never occurred to me, all the times I have driven across this bridge to go to the airport, that there was a bike/pedestrian path alongside it.

Once across the river the path peels off and curls under the bridge.

Again, not super scenic... but interesting... A lot about this trail feels like you're "backstage" somehow.

From there I walked to Georgetown, though the route didn't take me through the scenic part. If I ever do this again I might detour ... but for now, here's a tiny bit of public art on a traffic signal control box.

After making my way underneath a tangle of overpasses and elevated roads, I went up the ramp at Lucille Street ... who even knew this was possible? Apparently not drivers, ask I was nearly hit by not just one but two cars, both running a red light to turn onto the ramp as I crossed at the crosswalk. Whee.

But the pathway was sure nice.

It crossed the train tracks.

And then just went up up up the hill. By this point it had turned hot and I was REALLY GLAD that I had braved the potential storms (storms that were hitting about 15 miles north of where I was!).

As I walked up the hill I was reminded that we were in the flight path. Whoosh!

Eventually I reached the bottom of the Lucille Stairway, a loooooong stretch of stairs. So long you can't see the top from the bottom. I even had some company, sort of...

Lucille Stairway, 158 stairs
And up. And up. (My fellow traveler is now waaaaaay ahead of me.)

There's even a "false summit" of sorts ... but it just levels out for a short time before going up up up some more.

not done yet...
From the top of the stairs it's a short walk to Beacon Avenue South... which is when I realized where I was: Beacon Hill. (Who knew?) I had driven along this road, but it was nice to see that the broad park-like median had a meandering path along it.

A few twists and turns through Beacon Hill later and I came across the Chief Sealth Trail.

I had glimpsed this trail when we visit our friends Alan and Don, but didn't know anything about it. But the Chief Sealth Trail was built in the greenway under the big power pylons using recycled material from the Link Light Rail project. Pretty cool. I am definitely coming back to run or bike or walk this trail someday!

I took a tiny detour to walk an all too brief stretch of the trail, hearing the buzzing power lines overhead. Seriously -- I have already figured out that you can take a bus from one end of the trail to the other ... so you can park at one end, run the trail, and then bus back. Genius. But that's an adventure for another day...

Back on track, I started to head down the east side of Beacon Hill toward Columbia City.

One last, grand stairway awaited:

Seriously, these were fantastic. Or maybe I was just tired. But note the features here... a slow "run way" start with 3 steps, and a landing, 3 more steps, another landing, 3 more steps, another landing, and then.... DROP.

Down the first stretch -- nice new stairs.

Ferdinand Stairway, 125 steps
Then a sinuous curve halfway down:

then a flat stretch, with some amusing little stairs up ...

and then the remaining flight of stairs.

These do go on a bit, don't they?

I've just realized that these are very different than the stairs I expected -- apparently they were rebuilt this year. These images by Susan Ott Ralph come from the Google map of the Seattle Stairway 100K route and Community Walks site and show the old stairs:

As you can see, these stairs have been extensively redone, apparently in 2011 to help support the Link Light Rail project. Of course, I do miss the old streetcar rail supports!!!

At the bottom of the stairs is Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and the Columbia City station. And dragons. Here there be dragons. (Hmmm, or is that a lion???)

It would have made perfect sense to end the trip there and hop on the light rail to get downtown, but I had a little farther to go... to the Columbia City Ale House for a pint and some lunch.

a well deserved reward!
This stretch of the walk wasn't particularly interesting or scenic, but I did cover a lot of ground and am now back into stairway territory. Besides, how fun to cross the city from west to east on foot? I'm already looking forward to the next stretch!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Seattle Stairway 100K - stage 3

Today I walked another stretch of the Seattle Stairway 100K ... and realized that I never wrote up the LAST leg of the trip! So, belatedly, here's a recap of the stage Wil and I walked on July 31 (!!!!), from the Delridge Playfield to the corner of Delridge and Holden ... AKA, the bottom of the Holden Street Stairs.

We drove to the point we left off in stage 2 ... near the Delridge Playfield. We then walked and walked and walked and walked along Delridge until we reached SW Juneau Street. (Amusing, slightly, because we had just been in Juneau a week before...)

the bottom of the Juneau Street Stairs

The first set of stairs was long and pretty neglected -- lots of fallen leaves and overgrown edges...

Juneau Street Stairway, 172 stairs
... overhanging bushes ...

when was the last time someone walked up these stairs?
... and a fallen tree!

But we came out at the top just fine, and hit 21st Ave SW. We'd be back on this road later on.

We walked along 21st for a block, then turned down the Graham East Stairs... in a bit better condition!

Graham East Stairway, 134 stairs
This, of course, took us back to Delridge, which we dashed across and headed toward the Graham West Stairs. We saw a trail marker here, and I noticed that we would be heading in the direction of Camp Long ... a semi-mythical place in my memory where our Camp Fire group camped a few times. And I have never known exactly where it was! Funny to almost stumble across it on this walk.

Camp Long ... is real?
The Graham West Stairs had a almost an "onramp" at the bottom, and a snazzy red handrail.

And then they went up up up...

... and up and up and up...

Graham West Stairway, 140 stairs
The stairs popped out, unexpectedly, in a little fitness circuit greenspace called Bataan Park.  We amused ourselves playing on the equipment for a bit, conscious that people were watching us from the townhouses around the green.

Bataan Park
Our route meandered through housing developments, all soothingly new, but with a nice feel of "mixed income" about them -- there were big freestanding houses, lots of townhouses, and smaller condos. There were also a lot of parklets, all completely empty. And no real "center" apparent in the complex.

We crossed a busy road (aaaaaaaaaaaaah!) and turned up a short flight of stairs to a handsome, if not well maintained, bike/pedestrian path.

a short stairway with no name...

It was a little sad to see -- there was clearly a desire to build a nice path, light it well (see the big streetlight in the above photo), and link the different communities in the neighborhood with stairs ... but the path was garbage strewn and overrun by blackberry canes.

We eventually found the Myrtle Street Stairs and headed down into another housing development, passing one of the few pedestrians we saw all day. (He asked if we needed to buy a watch battery... umm, no.)

Myrtle Street Stairway, 100 stairs
We had a tiny adventure getting lost in the housing development ... I mean, exploring the housing development ... but eventually found our way back on route at Orchard Street to go down the long winding hill back to Delridge. (And running into my colleague Seamus en route!)

The route took what seemed to be an odd loop... until we saw the stairs. We headed north on Delridge to the Holly Street Stairs, a long and lovely set which we shared with a runner doing a stair workout. (Good on you girl!)

Holly Stairway, 100 stairs
At the top we found this funky shelter... but what is it for???

We then turned south along our old friend 21st until we arrived at the Myrtle East Stairs -- another well maintained, well used beauty.

Myrtle East Stairway, 170 stairs
Like I said earlier, I thought the loop was surprising ... but these two stairways were worth it. By the way, I am coming to terms with the fact that I have feelings for stairways. Don't judge.

Back up Delridge to Orchard, where we hit the bottom of the 19th Avenue SW Stairs, a nice winding set through the woods that dropped us in a very residential 'hood.

19th Avenue SW Stairway, 150 stairs
This stairway actually had a nice, parklike feel to it.

We made our way through the neighborhood, eventually winding down to our old friend Delridge, again.

We decided to call it a day then, and just walk back along Delridge to the car -- noting a lot of stairways we had been up and down. Only 4.33 miles, but a lot of stairs!

Read the Stairway 100K stage 1 report or the Stairway 100K stage 2 report to learn more!