Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Urban rambling : the Washington Park Arboretum

On the way back from Otter Falls, after crossing another stream, Wil couldn't shake the feeling that his foot was wet -- not just cold from feeling the cold water through the boot, but actually wet. We stopped and Wil took off his boot and, sure enough, one of his boots must have had a hole in the Gore-Tex membrane. Later that day we stopped in at the Issaquah REI, took the still muddy and very wet boots to the front counter, and exchanged them for a new pair of boots, no questions asked. HUGE props to REI for just taking care of this!

Wil ended up buying a pair of Asolo Fugitive boots -- the men's version of my boots, the Asolo Stynger. They're a little sturdier than Wil's former boots, more "roughy toughy". So on Sunday we decided to test them out on a short walk, preferably with a bit of mud and some puddles. And our walk did not disappoint!

We drove out to the arboretum -- actually, the University of Washington Botanic Garden / Washington Park Arboretum -- and parked at the visitor's center. We set off meandering around the grounds. I should be clear, however, that we did not trespass on the bees.

(I can't speak to whether or not the honeybees remain in their pen...)

We did see lots and lots and lots of green. Crazy intense green.

With lots of twisty, turny paths, we really enjoyed our ramble. 

Wil, desperate to try out his NEW BOOTS, carefully stepped around the plants in this little creek. (That's skunk cabbage on the right... a plant I only know because a woman pointed it out to us on a hike once.)

The rhododendrons weren't in full bloom yet -- just some of the early varieties were colored up -- but I loved walking under this massive rhody tree and seeing this little living crutch:

Sometimes we all need a little help, eh?

We did pass some glorious azaleas on Azalea Way -- but the path will be much more vibrant in a couple of weeks:

On this gloomy day, we didn't have a lot of company in the gardens. 

After the genteel garden ramble, we set headed over to the Arboretum Waterfront Trail to Foster Island and Marsh Island.

I wasn't sure if this trail was still accessible, given the 520 Bridge construction. But when we crossed Foster Island we saw that a path remained under the freeway.

As we crossed the bridge to get on Foster Island we heard a weird noise and caught a heron fight. THIS IS MY BRIDGE!

We admired the view from the shore... after witnessing an awkward argument among friends. ("Well, okay, we can talk about the Mariners or the Seahawks if that will make you more comfortable.")

Then out across the floating bridge (kid sister to the Longest Floating Bridge In The World, next door) to Marsh Island... where we found the level of the walkway a few inches underwater.

Then we got to Marsh Island, which completely lived up to its name.

We headed out on a spur trail to take a quick look at the bridge construction and saw this: a ladder floating on a raft, adrift.

The trails on Marsh Island are essentially formed by adding chopped up bark and wood between two fixed planks. And when we have a lot of rain, including our Wettest April on Record (2017!), it just gets churned to mire. But this was a great way for Wil to test out his new boots!

We came to a few spots with really deep, watery mud... and each time there were a few trail runners hoping to avoid getting their feet wet. This caused a few backups ... and I didn't want to take pictures because I didn't want to upset the runners. So just picture mud with a bunch of branches laid over it in the vain hope of creating a bridge. And then picture me just slowly clomping through the water. And then picture me realizing that my boots are 7 inches high and the water was 7.5. Oh well -- my socks got wet at the top, but my feet didn't get super wet!

We made it to the far end of the trail, where the old MOHAI was, and then turned around and headed back. This trail is apparently endangered -- on Google it's listed as "permanently closed" already. But hopefully once the bridge construction wraps up access will be restored on the western end and they can restore the trail.

We headed back across the floating sections, which always make me think of that barrel bridge on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland.

And then, just as it started to rain, we got back to the car. Wil's boots had been tested -- and they passed the test with muddy, flying colors.

Arboretum Ramble

4.6 miles
236 feet elevation gain

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