Circumambulating Seattle 6: The NW Segment

July 5, 2014

“The last few miles were like a bad dream, but I’d reached a state where somehow, perversely, it was harder to stop than to carry on.”
— Nick Hunt, Walking the Woods and the Water


I’d reached the point in my encircling walk of Seattle where I was ready for it to end.  I suppose we encounter this type of mental hinderance many times in our lives, when tasks have lost their sense of newness or joy or wonder.  Perhaps my energy was flagging a bit because, unlike my other segments which I started bright and early in the morning, I hit the sidewalks this day after working four hours at my job.  It was past mid-day when I resumed my walk at the Ballard Locks.

The walk started pleasantly enough with a trek past Shilshole Marina to Golden Gardens.  This is another of Seattle’s popular beaches for summer recreation on the Sound.






From Golden Gardens, I tried to stay relatively close to the waters’ edge as I walked north, but I found this difficult.  First I had to climb up several sets of very steep stairs up from Golden Gardens to the bluff above.  I was back in a residential area with labyrinthine streets, no sidewalks, and ravines that resulted in plenty of dead ends.

One of the stairways up from Golden Gardens

One of the stairways up from Golden Gardens

After walking in what seemed like loops, I finally hit NW 100th Street and decided to follow its straight path to 15th and then 3rd Avenue NW.  The walk became a slog.  There were no long views across the Sound as I was now heading back inland.  I perked up when I saw Swansons Nursery — suddenly I knew exactly where I was.  I put one foot in front of the other, watching the street signs go up incrementally to 145th Street NW, which was the northern city limit.  There I turned west for my final few blocks to Aurora Avenue North, back where I started my journey.

Walking in NW Seattle

Walking in NW Seattle

Swansons Nursery

Swansons Nursery

Back wherre I started, 145th and Aurora Ave N

Back where I started, 145th and Aurora Ave N

Estimated walking distance: about 7-1/2 miles

I’d accomplished my goal — walking the boundaries of my city, about 70+ miles.  There were some exceptionally lovely parts, but even the uninteresting, normal, or ugly parts were worth it because they took me to areas of the city that I had not seen before or that I would have bypassed in a car without a thought.

I learned that Seattle is larger than I knew, and yet, walking revealed a series of neighborhoods that were knowable on a smaller scale.

“How excellent it is to see the world reveal itself to one who goes afoot — and how much larger it is.”
— William Least Heat Moon, Here, There, Elsewhere:  Stories from the Road

It felt good to be an explorer in my own backyard:

“On occasion, . . . I go out into my home territory and try to travel it as if a stranger so that I can see familiarities in a different light and from a new angle, commonplaces viewed freshly and examined closely.  The point is as much discovery as rediscovery.”
— William Least Heat Moon, Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road

Now I will have to plan for new activities and explorations.  I have at least three things I want to return to — walking Seward Park’s loop trail and using the Elliott Bay Water taxi to get to West Seattle. I’ve fallen in love with Seattle’s RapidLine transit routes, and want to catch the RapidLine C back to West Seattle someday for breakfast (I saw many good looking bakeries and coffeeshops).The summer is still young!



8 Responses to “Circumambulating Seattle 6: The NW Segment”

  1. Thank you for making the trek so we can see all the beautiful sights!

  2. Mary Says:

    I’ve loved your account of your circumambulation, Rosemary. Thanks for providing another splendid armchair adventure.

    • Rosemary Says:

      You are so very welcome. Someday we will have to make a Skagit or Bow walk! Enjoy your upcoming adventure. I can’t wait to hear all about it.

  3. Diana Studer Says:

    the new options to explore … are what I look forward to once we move.

  4. Chris Says:

    Thank-you for taking us along a walking tour of Seattle…I saw and learned things I never knew about the city! That was quite an accomlished goal…walking 70 miles around the city! Wow! I’m deeply envious! I’ve lived here since 1978 and still can’t get used to one thing…the dirty brown color sand of Puget Sound beaches and our Washington coast as well. The photo of the girls playing in it, gave me a chuckle! I thought…they’re going to have to jump in the water to get clean, after that!

  5. shoreacres Says:

    Oh, my. I’m tired, I tell you! But I’m really glad I took the time to follow in your footsteps. I learned so much — and now I’m inspired to give something similar a try. I think I’ll wait until autumn, though. It’s too hot and humid until then.

  6. […] Circumambulating Seattle 6: The NW Segment, July 5, 2014 […]

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