Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hike of the Week : Carkeek Park

I know, I know. It's crazy. Until this past weekend, we had never been to Carkeek Park. Not sure why. (Though as our Stairway 100K project went along, we discovered dozens of parks we had never heard of, let alone visited.)

This year, in preparation for our Kilimanjaro climb, we are going to try to go on a hike every weekend. We're lucky to live where we are surrounded by mountains and trails. One slight problem: it's winter, and I don't like driving in the snow.

(Slight aside, is a person who knows how to drive in the snow the new vegan / crossfitter? If a vegan crossfitter knows how to drive in the snow, what will they tell you first???)

So we've been researching hikes in the lowlands. We've got some coastal hikes planned in the coming weeks, and we're watching road conditions around some other hikes. But this weekend we thought we'd just go for a nice walk to Carkeek Park, then down to the beach, and back.

We headed north through Crown Hill on side streets -- they're quieter, and, well, you never know who you might meet...

But soon we arrived at Carkeek Park -- or one entrance to it.

Trails! Orchard! Beach! And Streams!

We picked up a trail map -- something which gives me Great Joy, because I do love a map. Ours looked like this, which was plenty useful.

I found this map online -- I love how the satellite view shows you just of much the this park is surrounded by neighborhoods!

We set off down the Piper's Creek Trail, dropping down a steep but short hillside with a few switchbacks. And then, suddenly, we were in the forest.

Piper's Creek runs through culverts, having been diverted underneath the streets. But here it come sinto its own.

We followed the trail along the creek, on our own most of the way. We passed an Piper's Orchard, planted by Andrew Piper after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. This is the oldest orchard in Seattle, and is now lovingly maintained by the volunteer Friends of Piper's Orchard. So sorry to learn that we missed their Winter Wassailing by a week! Two words: MORRIS DANCERS. I look forward to coming back when the apple blossoms are in bloom.

Look at the trees laid out in a grid!
We nosed around a bit on some side trails, admiring these handsome trail numbers. What a lovely idea!

We also spotted this beautiful manhole cover -- something Seattle is rather famous for. I love the swimming ladies, the handsome whale, and the orcas with their swirly patterned bellies.

As we approached the beach we went through a wetland on a boardwalk. I really expected to see a river otter nosing along.

The coastal railway tracks run between most of the park and the tiny beach ... but there's a nice bridge to cross the tracks safely.

Image from WillhiteWeb.com
We arrived just in time for a freight train to cross directly beneath us -- a surprisingly exhilarating feeling.
looking north(ish) 
looking south(ish)
Then we headed on to the rocky beach. I'm not sure I've ever seen crows behaving like water birds before. But it was nice to see them in such large numbers on the beach.

Okay, so there are only two crows in that picture... I assure you, there were dozens of them on the beach!  Look, here's a shot of Wil, with crows in the background. See?

It was a bit chilly -- so we didn't linger long on the beach. We headed back across the bridge and up to the play area and parking lot -- filling with people as the weather got nicer.

Piper's Creek is a salmon stream, and the creek is crowded with chum salmon coming home to spawn in late November - early December.  However, we only saw this lovely salmon slide. Sadly, two children discovered it right as we got there, so no amusing "Wil in the salmon's mouth" photo this time.

We headed home the way we came, stopping to admire these miniature crocuses along the way -- a sure sign that spring is springing!

No, it wasn't a roughy toughy hike. Our total elevation gain was under 500 feet. But we did go for a nice walk, got a bit of exercise, and visited a new park. Now... where to go next weekend?

Carkeek Park Hike (from Camp Wil-Sun)
6.92 miles
475 feet elevation gain

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