Saturday, July 2, 2016

Seattle Stairway 100K -- stage 1

You know I love a challenge. And you know I have a love for city stairways. A couple of months ago I was looking at the Seattle Stairways site and saw a reference that a group of trail runners designed an urban ultra: a 100K run through the city and its stairways. They first attempted it on the summer solstice, 2015. And this, of course, made me obsess about it. 

the entire route... all 100K of it...
Today we decided to set out and do part of the route, parking near the start and going as far as we felt like going. And it was GREAT. 

We parked on a dead end, hoping that this wasn't private parking... At least it was public shore view access...

We also loved the fence on this house:

We started at the lower 98th Street Stairway and were almost immediately gasping for breath. 

Lower 98th Street Stairway
This dropped us off onto 48th Avenue SW, which looks like a dead-end ... except that there's a lovely small gate that allows pedestrians to pass through a gap in a hedge and onto Fauntleroy Way SW. It almost felt like England, for a minutes ... or it would have, had it been a kissing gate!

Then along this road for a while, past the ferry dock and up towards Lincoln Park. We took a right turn on Thistle and headed up the Thistle Stairway, at 367 stairs it's the second longest stairway in Seattle. (And it was the longest until the Howe Stairway was extended through the mountain bike park underneath the freeway.) It just went up and up and up!

up the Thistle Stairway we go

still going....
We passed a woman on the way down wearing a heavy pack and hiking boots -- clearly she's in training for a climb!

Then we wiggled our way back town toward Lincoln Park, cutting through a dirt trail and walking by a big lovely Saint Bernard named Rose. 

We walked into the park and made our way to the Beach Trail. I had worried slightly that we would somehow miss the turn. Nope.

Down down down we went through the forest. 

Wil descending the Lincoln Park central stairway; 125 steps
At the bottom of the stairs we may have made a wrong turn, but we did end back up on the bluff trail and found the North Beach Stairway (100 stairs). This trail was signposted that there had been a slide, and that the trail is very narrow and slippery in both wet and dry conditions. But we decided to give it a go. Sure enough, there was a spot very near the top where there had been a small landslide and the trail felt exceptionally narrow -- so narrow that I didn't take any pictures the entire way down. But then the trail broadened a bit and we made it down to the beach path. Ahhh, beach.

beach panorama in Lincoln Park
After leaving the park we spent a long time walking along Beach Drive SW, admiring the big houses and small cottages along the water. This felt like it went on a long time, but it was also pretty easy because there were no stairs. 

Eventually, however, it was time for us to make a right turn to head up the Douglas Stairway (134 stairs). 

Wil on the Douglas Stairway
I love how these plants are gently encroaching on the stairway:

From the top we took a quick turn to the left on Aikens Avenue SW, traveled less than a block, and then made a quick left turn onto the Carroll Stairway. On our way down this stairway we passed an older couple out for a walk. A bit later we passed them again -- clearly they were also seeking out and climbing stairways. 

Carroll Stairway, 193 stairs
Looking back at Wil as he descends the Carroll Stairway:

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Our single misstep of the walk today was that the map appeared to show a trail joining two dead ends. 

We did go all the way to the end of the road hoping that maybe there was a small trail ... but it looked as if it had been overgrown for a while. I foolishly didn't look at my map to see where exactly we'd be going, and we ended up just walking to the bottom of the next stairway, the Spokane-61st Stairway. (If I had looked at the map, we could have doubled back a bit and ended up at the top of the stairway...)

We did get to the bottom of the stairway, where I forgot to take a photo, and where we ran into our stair-walking friends again. (Love!)

We started to head on along 61st, not taking the stairs, when I decided to look at the map and noticed that we could go up the stairs and just walk on 60th to Alki ... So back we went. 

This stairway was shiny and new -- turns out it was rebuilt in 2012: 
Seattle Department of Transportation crews are restoring the stairway on Southwest Spokane Street between SW 60th and SW 61st streets. ...
The 62-foot stairway provides a pedestrian and bicycle connection from Beach Drive SW along the water to the top of the hill. The existing 62-foot long stairway is more than 60 years old, in poor condition, and does not meet current standards. The stairs are made of rails and concrete slabs salvaged in the 1940’s when the city converted from trolleys to buses, and now have a hand rail on only one side.
The new stairs will be more than five feet wide, made of reinforced concrete, and will have a railing on each side. A “runnel” (a ledge on which to set the wheels of a bicycle) will be added to allow bicyclists to push their bikes up and down the stairs.
- See more at:

This, my friends, is a beautiful brand new stairway! (And kudos to the city of Seattle for maintaining / rebuilding these stairways throughout the city.)

Spokane-61st Stairway, image from the SDOT Blog
We made our way down 60th towards Alki Beach Park, swinging over to 61st to pass the Log House Museum, which made Wil giggle because it's a historic house that's younger than his house in the UK. Then onto Alki Avenue, where we decided to end the walk with a visit to El Chupacabra. Margaritas, chips, salsa, and guacamole, all well earned...

Not sure when we'll get back out to complete some more of the trail -- hopefully soon. Our goal is to complete the entire distance this summer. Here's what we ended up walking today:


1 comment:

  1. Why can't you two be pioneers and introduce kissing gates to the US. You're the perfect pair for the task! Xx