Friday, July 22, 2016

Seattle Stairway 100K - stages 2A and 2B

It has been a while since we hit the stairs for another stretch of the Stairway 100K ... but we have gone out twice and done small sections. Since the walks are so short (and I didn't get around to blogging about the first one!), I'm combining them into this big blog post...

On Saturday 16 July we started off on the Alki Trail right across from El Chupacabra, our finishing point on our first walk. We sauntered along Alki Beach, watching beach volleyball (is it a competition? a school? a league like a bowling league, only beachy?) and enjoying the nice weather. But of course, soon there were STAIRS...

Bonair Stairway, 114 stairs
The Bonair Stairway was a little hidden, tucked away behind some overhanging bamboo. But boy, this was a good stairway.

Why good? Because this is the first time I had seen this:

That, my friends, is a former streetcar rail. When the city of Seattle decommissioned its streetcars decades ago, they saved the rail and cut them up to use as balusters. Well, if that's really what "the bit that holds up a handrail on a stairway" is called. I had read about this when researching the walk, so it was a tiny thrill to see my first one and know what it was. Okay, maybe more than a tiny thrill for this history geek.

After the stairs we turned down Halleck Avenue, a super cute, almost European little street. European because of how the houses were all built so closely together. One house was particularly perfect, with a tiny walled front garden and this sassy mermaid sculpture on the wall.

sassy mermaid!
At the base of Halleck Avenue, we turned to head up a new stairway that was rehabilitated in 2009.

I think it's great that Seattle still spends money to upgrade pedestrian stairways. And this one, the 53rd Street Stairway, is a beauty. Oh, gosh, just realized that I now have a thing for stairways in the way that trainspotters have for trains. Well, embrace it, I say.

Wil heading up the 53rd Street Stairs
These stairs really do go on and on ... 175 stairs, apparently.

up up up

the view back down to the water

almost... to... the... top...
The upper part of the stairway has not been "rehabilitated" ... oh, yeah, that's right... STREETCAR HANDRAILS!!!!

We wound around a little bit, and walked through the College Street Ravine -- a nice quiet little green space. With these weird, stinky little sewer drains peppered throughout. At least, that's what I assume they are!

As we left the ravine we passed a cute signpost and a box of free poetry. (Sadly empty, but perhaps there's something poetic in that?)

It was nice to be back in a neighborhood, and we wandered along until we reached Admiral. Not much to see here, though we did stop and get ice cream and sodas to "refuel". Ha.

Then out to the overlook at Belvedere Park. Wil had thought that perhaps this is where the pic of my dad holding me was taken, but this just confirms that it was taken somewhere along Alki. (This angle is too high.)

There's a nice totem pole as well. The Seattle Parks Department says:

The original 25-foot totem was a gift to the city in the 1930s from E. "Daddy" Standley, owner of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the downtown waterfront and a booster of the viewpoint, from his collection. It was carved by Bella-Bella Indians from the Queen Charlotte Islands. It became famous from use on postcards and telephone directories.  
Deemed beyond repair in 1966, its replacement was carved from a cedar log cut from Schmitz Park. Robert Fleischman and Michael Morgan, both Boeing engineers, donated some 300 hours of work carving the new totem.

Belvedere Park totem
We walked a bit farther, but just weren't quite feeling it ... so we decided to stop our walk at 36th and Hinds ... so that we could instead go to Easy Street and do a bit of West Seattle record shopping....

stop / start
(By the way, we ended up walking 6.1 miles between the stairway walk, getting to Easy Street, and then getting back to Alki...)

7/16 walking route
Today, 22 July we decided to do another little bit... so we got ourselves back to 36th and Hinds and started walking. Our first stairway was a short one, just a little flight down a steep stretch of Hinds. Oddly enough, it isn't even highlighted on the stairway map, but clearly, it is...

tiny little Hinds stairs
Then we went down a narrow, winding road, stopping to look at this sketch of three "modern sustainable homes" that are currently just a wooded lot.

Then another little challenge to find the Spokane - Admiral Way stairway ... but that wasn't the real challenge. At the bottom you are basically dumped off on Admiral Way ... which is super busy. There's also no sidewalk to speak of so you couldn't even really edge along to a safer spot. We just got lucky and timed it right before sprinting partway across. Not pleasant at all. I didn't even take any photos of the stairway until we were safely across the street.

But then we got back on the Alki Trail, albeit through the seriously industrial part which I apparently decided didn't deserve any photos. There were some long and drawn out street crossings (the lights really aren't timed for pedestrians), and for a moment I worried that we would inadvertently end up crossing the low-level bridge.

But we soldiered on and then spotted our next stairway, the 227 stair Charleston Stairway. This was a really cool one, with flight after flight of stairs.

yep, that's right, those ARE streetcar railings!
This view is from the top of the first flight, with a view toward the next curving flight.

on and on and on

and on and on and on

final push ... and YEAH RIGHT graffiti
A bit of wheezing and we made it out. Then a little more neighborhood wandering, past the edge of a park, a ravine with trails, and an abandoned piano... I was a little confused by the map, because the route pointed straight forward and there was a steep drop off. Oh, duh, STAIRWAY!

The Genesee stairway has 213 stairs that go down three blocks. 
Genesee Stairway, 213 stairs
We had to pick up our pace partway down when it became clear that it was unsafe ... SHARK ATTACK!

danger on the Genesee Stairway!
But soon we were headed down the final looooooong stretch.

that's Delridge Way, waaaay down there
The last several yards were not stairs but a "bumpy path" (and, no, these don't count as stairs!). I always find those difficult to walk on -- I have to really focus on planting my feet -- and Wil suggested that might be part of the safety design, making pedestrians slow their pace as well.

But we were flagging -- last night was a late night, you see -- and when we reached the bottom of the stairs, I suggested we stop for the day even though we had only walked for an hour. What clinched it, I suppose, was the sight of a Car2Go just sitting there all forlorn...  So we hopped in the Car(2Go) and drove back to Woody and then home.

This map shows the route we took over the two days. I hope that next weekend we'll get another chunk done!

Read the Stairway 100K stage 1 report if you want to know more!

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