Friday, September 30, 2016

Seattle Stairway 100K - stage 5

Columbia City to Beacon Hill

We squeezed in this walk on Sunday morning before the Seahawks game... because, priorities.

I planned this route to start and end at Link light rail stations to make things easier. So we drove to Beacon Hill, parked near the station, and rode the train two stops to Columbia City. On thing was immediately clear.

Lions. They're lions. Not sure why I thought it was a dragon last time. Of course, I'm also not sure why there are so many different sorts of lions at the Columbia City light rail station, but ...

The beginning of this walk was pretty downbeat... just walking on and on through the neighborhood along quiet streets. Then we came to our first set of stairs, at Ferdinand and 51st.

Ferdinand Stairs, 68 steps
This took us up a block onto a ridge, where we crossed a small street and then found this path pointing in the right direction. The maps here were a little confusing ... but this path was clearly "in use" despite not being on the map...

Private walkway? Hard to tell. 
Eventually, however, it opened up onto some stairs ... and some more stairs ... 

and some more.

Lower Ferdinand Stairs, 171 stairs (??)
At some point there was a stairway that branched off to one side... but we just kept heading down.

oh, yeah, streetcar rails!

And when we reached the bottom, we were only a block or so from this:

view south to Seward Park

Lake Washington, all pretty in the morning light.

view north
As we approached Lake Washington Boulevard, we saw signs saying "road closed" ... which worried us a little, as we weren't sure we could navigate around a detour. But then I remembered that it was a Bicycle Sunday, where they close off the road to cars and let bikes and pedestrians roam free.  How great is that?

We walked along the lake. It was ALL I COULD DO to not write "OR WE WILL TURN THEM TO STONE"  on this post. Wil moved me along quickly so my inner vandal couldn't get out.

All too soon we turned up Genessee from the lake, and then headed west along it for several blocks, until we hit Rainier Avenue South. We shifted north by a block, and then went up the Adams Stairway.

Adams Stairway, 182 stairs

As we approached, there were a bunch of teenagers sitting on the steps. They saw us and essentially scampered off, leaving their "Swisher Sweets" packets behind them. Oh, the kids today.

Obligatory "pedestrian street sign" photo...

The Adams Stairway was surprisingly long... crossing alleys / narrow streets as we went up. Here's the view back down from the top:

Adams Stairway, from the top
We then went one block north along 34th ... a funny little street with a surprising number of "modern" homes with interesting finishes. And because they're built on a steep slope, many of them have little "elevated walkways" going from the street to the house. Pretty cool.

We then reached the Lilac Stairs ... which started out feeling like a private path, until I noticed the telltale streetcar rails ... this time painted a stylish black.

Lilac Stairway, 113 stairs
We got partway down the stairs, and saw this:

how cute is that pedestrian detour sign???
Now, this might have been a little annoying, since we ended up having to go back along an alley to the stairs we just walked up ... but it's actually pretty cool.

It's nice to see that the city is still maintaining -- and improving -- these stairways. They even posted a handy map of the detour for pedestrians. So we went a block south, down a flight of stairs, and then came back up the block to the bottom of the closed section.

Honestly, this does my heart good. It makes me happy to live in a city that is trying to encourage more people to walk. Or maybe just build more places to smoke Swisher Sweets...

We re-crossed Rainier Avenue, then climbed a hill to get on 37th ... sadly missing the opportunity to climb up these pretty new stairs, the Charlestown Hillclimb.

Charlestown Hillclimb stairs -- pretty!
There's even art at the top -- that metal "tree" has a periscope in it.

However, the route then took us down these stairs ... an unexpected stairway-turned-park.

The stairs are broad, clean, and have trimmed grass on both sides.

Horton Stairway, 100 stairs

And partway down, there's a waterfall ... or, at least, a course for a waterfall. (Hey, I'm currently happy to have had a dry summer!)

You don't see a lot of gargoyles here in Seattle ... would love to see this spouting water!
We made our way back over to where Rainier Ave meets MLK Way, and then headed up our last big stairway of the day: the Hanford Steps.

There are 25 flattish ones covering the first block, and then a very clean set of 110 more... which you can see in the distance of this photo:

Hanford Stairway, 25 steps lower, 110 steps upper
I didn't take any pictures of the stairs, oddly enough, but I did take one of the colored concrete on the landing at the top.

top landing of the Hanford Stairway
At the top of the stairs there was MORE HILL. I mean, seriously, shouldn't they have built a stairway? That said, if they had, we wouldn't have seen these:

These little penguins are pressed into the concrete on the sidewalk ... along with what we *think* was a childish drawing of an anatomically correct heart. Yeah, I knew I should have gotten a picture or you wouldn't believe me.

(While looking for a picture ... or any information ... about these penguins and hearts on the sidewalk, I came across this very cool site Beacon Hill Public Art. It sadly didn't have any information about them, but had lots of pictures and locations of public art around their neighborhood.)

We assumed that perhaps the penguins and hearts are related to Kimball Elementary School, with its cute mural sign ... but I still can't find any information about them. So it will remain a mystery. An undocumented mystery...

We popped back out on Beacon Avenue South, admiring the cute restaurants and bars and more public art:

I think I'd like to do something similar in my neighborhood!
And then back to Beacon Hill Station, where we kicked things off. Maybe it's because this station is underground, but this might be my favorite of all the Link stations.

Another good day -- and a reminder that we should be exploring more Seattle neighborhoods. Next stretch of the walk: Beacon Hill to Leschi!

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