Friday, January 27, 2017

Seattle Stairway 100K - stage 11

This is IT. The final stage of our Seattle Stairway 100K. We did it the day after completing stage 10 -- the loooong stage -- but were so eager to finish and had such gorgeous weather that we headed right back out on Sunday morning. We took the bus to Dravus, crossed 15th, and soon we were up our first flight of stairs.

Barrett Stairway, 122 stairs
Up the Barrett Stairway, south a block, then down the Raye Stairway... what do you expect, it's a stairway walk!

Raye Stairway, 106 stairs

I want to point out that these stairways are clearly used; there are a lot of people living in apartments and condos on the east side of Queen Anne that walk down these stairs to get to 15th and the frequent buses downtown.

Another block or so south, then we headed up the Wheeler Stairway.
Wheeler Stairway, 125 stairs
Just to the right of the stairway is this handsome fella, who made me wish we had bought our own carved bear in the Redwoods and somehow managed to get him home. (Yeah, we've got a roof rack, but....)

Also, near the top of the stairs there's a small vending machine where you can buy different sorts of chicken feed for the little flock of chickens. Which explained why they came strutting over as we walked up the stairs. Clever birds.

Then we crossed Gilman and continued up the stairs:

and up ...

and up... until we reached this split block (due to the steepness of the hill), where a tiny pocket park had been created.

Cute little Soundview Terrace, with a playground, some seating, and some handsome paths.

(I don't know if you can tell, but it's SUPER COLD and still early enough that the sun hasn't hit this side of the hill yet. Brrrr.)

We continued south for several blocks, and then turned up the Lee Stairway. It's pretty standard, if well-maintained at first:

Until you near the top and there's something rather interesting....

And then the next flight looks like this:

This is part of the Willcox Walls, built in 1913. The walls, their ornamental balustrades, lighting, and public stairways were designed by Walter Ross Baume Willcox (who also designed the Arboretum Aqueduct). The walls were designated a city landmark in 1976, and substantially renovated in 1989. And aren't they gorgeous!

Oh, and the view from the top ain't bad either:

view from the Willcox Wall, including reproduction light fixture
 This stretch is part of Queen Anne Boulevard .... which, confusingly, isn't a street, but a "drive" proposed by the Olmsted Brothers to circle Queen Anne Hill. The drive was only realized on the west  side.

Not far from the top of the stairs, we arrived at the Betty Bowen Viewpoint, celebrating the life of a local supporter of the arts.

It's views like this that make the cloudy days worthwhile. And, yes, the bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle...

But we had to keep moving on, so we headed down a different flight of stairs

view of the top of the wall, curving north
So down we went, and back into the shadows...

The hill here is so steep that most roads are split between a high side and a low side, with little sloping walkways between them:

I imagine these becoming bobsled runs in icier weather... Then down another flight of stairs to Olympic Way North.

And then, happily, we headed into Kinnear Park... yet ANOTHER Seattle park I had never been to.

We followed the trail down the side of the hill. Oh, look, stairs...


Wil coming down some stairs by the tennis courts.

My favorite part of this surprisingly large and diverse park was a little set of informational signs. I hadn't realized that in 1896 Seattle had an "influential Bicycle Plan" put forward by a George Cotterill.

And I really couldn't resist this photo of the Seattle City Council visiting the park and "relaxing". I find it hard to imagine the city council striking this sort of pose nowadays. Perhaps they should. Bonus if some of them wore mustaches like these...

I find it hard to imagine the city council striking this sort of pose nowadays. Perhaps they should. Bonus if some of them wore mustaches like these... "Well hello there ... let's talk about issues around parking ... "

Leaving Kinnear Park, we continued around the lower slopes of the hill, and headed uphill to Kerry Park.

I had never approached the park from the lower edge before, so didn't know that there was an odd little playground. That spinning thing that looks like an upturned plunger? I do not recommend it. Save yourself.

We took the stairs to the upper edge and were rewarded with this classic Seattle view:

view from Kerry Park
Kerry Park was given to the city in 1927 by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Sperry Kerry, Sr., "so that all who stop here may enjoy the view."

The Kerry's children donated a sculpture, "Changing Form", by Doris Totten Chase. It was installed in 1971 and, of course, is frequently used for shots like this:

There is so much about Seattle that I love in this picture:

We spent quite a while in the park, admiring the view ... but we had a lot of uphill and a lot of downhill still to do, so we moved on. We followed Highland Drive around the hill, before descending the 2nd Avenue Stairway.

Looking at the map now, I'm pretty happy I didn't realize that the endpoint of the walk -- still a couple of miles and hundreds of stairs away -- was only 2 blocks from this point.

We headed east one block and then went down the 3rd Avenue Stairway.

Though it has clearly been renovated with new handrails, you can still see the old "railing" on the right side of this picture. You can also see that it's still very, very cold out!

How cold? These kids are FREEZING.

We made our way to Mercer Street, which has had so much work done that I can barely recognize it. But this broad, even sidewalk and two-way bike lanes is a huge improvement to the old, narrow sidewalk.

We then picked our way around construction -- I swear these roads change every time I go through them -- to get to Lake Union Park.

We followed the edge of the lake for a few blocks before joining the final big push up the hill.

For years we have been running underneath this overpass as we looped Lake Union.

Today was the day we were finally going to cross it!

There's a nice little platform at the top of the stairs with a view of the lake:

And I think the overpass itself is interestingly designed.

We crossed it, and then climbed a lot of stairs very quickly... eventually arriving at Highway 99.

We climbed up and over an overpass I had been seeing for years, but never set foot on.

Our reward on the far side? More stairs, of course! Apparently, between the waterfront and the top of the hill there are 4 separate stairways and 504 stairs. On tired legs, these were an amazing workout. Heck, on fresh legs these are an amazing workout.

And then, suddenly, we were at Galer and 2nd ... the end of the walk. Okay, so it's not the highest point in Seattle ... that would be High Point in West Seattle... but it's the highest intersection on Queen Anne, so I'm told.

We celebrated with brunch ... and a nap in the afternoon. The Seattle Stairway 100K was finally complete!