Pedestrian walk signal

Pedestrian walk signal

“A walk is not a parade or a race.  It’s a succession of instants, any one of which can illuminate a lifetime.”
—  John Baxter, The Most Beautiful Walk in the World:  A Pedestrian in Paris

City walks and nature hikes.  Each a succession of instants.  Each can be a source of illumination.

Hiking the naches Peak Loop Trail near Mount Rainier

Hiking the Naches Peak Loop Trail near Mount Rainier

View of Cascade Mountains and Dewey lake from Naches Peak Loop Trail

View of Cascade Mountains and Dewey Lake from Naches Peak Loop Trail


Approaching Ebey's Landing trailhead

Approaching Ebey’s Landing trailhead

“I leave this notice
on my door
For each accustomed
I am gone into the fields
To take what this sweet hour yields.”
— Percy Bysshe Shelley

I take most of my out-of-town guests to Whidbey Island for hiking at Ebey’s Landing.  The journey itself is half the fun as it involves a ferry ride and a drive along country roads with old barns.

Old barn, Whidbey Island

Old barn, Whidbey Island

Another old barn

Another old barn

Ferry viewed from the bluff at Ebey's Landing

Ferry viewed from the bluff at Ebey’s Landing

The hike itself is pretty spectacular no matter which season I take guests there. The trail is a pleasant loop, up a bluff, and then along the beach on the way back.  This past weekend the landscape was as green as I’ve ever seen it.

Stairs at the start of the hike

Stairs at the start of the hike

Notice the hikers (like ants) on the bluff and on the shore

Notice the hikers (like ants) on the bluff and on the shore

The initial uphill stretch.  The path soon levels off at the top of the bluff.

The initial uphill stretch. The path soon levels off at the top of the bluff.

View of farmland from the bluff; so green

View of farmland from the bluff; so green

View from Ebey's Landing

View from Ebey’s Landing



Steep slope

Steep slope

Tree sculpted like bonsai

Tree sculpted like bonsai



Driftwood along the beach

Driftwood along the beach

The homeward stretch along the shore

The homeward stretch along the shore



Seaweed and rocks

Seaweed and rocks

Beach sculpture

Beach sculpture




















Hiking trail up to the bluff at Ebey’s Landing

When I have company from out-of-town, I like to take them to Ebey’s Landing, one of my favorite hikes on Whidbey Island.  This loop trail provides a perfect slice of Pacific Northwest life — a ferry ride to get there, expansive views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, bucolic rural scenery, and a beach walk.  It’s not too strenuous, and a breeze keeps you cool even on a hot, sunny summer day.

We experienced a special treat on this most recent hike — a plein air artist was working on a landscape in oil pastels.  I always love to see artists at work.

Easel and trays of oil pastels at Ebey’s Landing

Steven R. Hill, plein air artist

An artist’s hands

Plein air art at Ebey’s Landing

View from Ebey’s Landing: a rural landscape with Mount Baker on the horizon

View out over Puget Sound

Looking down at the lagoon from the bluff at Ebey’s Landing

View of Olympic Mountains from across Puget Sound

“I have learned that the swiftest traveler is he that goes afoot.” 
— Henry David Thoreau,  Walden

My well-worn hiking boots

Thoreau asserts that the fastest traveler is the one on foot.  A seeming paradox.  But when he goes on to explain, the mystery becomes clearer.  In Thoreau’s day, to travel 30 miles by train cost the equivalent of a day’s labor.  Thoreau could walk that distance in one day and arrive by evening.  The person traveling by rail would first have to spend a day laboring to earn the fare, and then take the train the next day.  Thus, the walking man arrived first and had a day full of the pleasures of the countryside.

The economics of walking as a form of travel have changed.  The price of a tank of gas is still less than a day’s labor, and it transports us over distances that would take days traveling by foot. Today a better argument for slow travel might focus on the quality of the journey, the best way to travel.  We might romanticize train travel over air travel, as Paul Theroux does in The Tao of Travel:  “Every airplane trip is the same; every railway journey is different.”  Or we might learn that the most rewarding journeys are on foot, as Gardner McKay does in Journey Without a Map:  “I came to realize that I traveled best when I traveled no faster than a dog could trot.”

As I read more about walking, I began to wonder just how far I could walk in one day.  I don’t even know the farthest distance I’ve ever walked in one day.  I began to crave taking a long walk.  A walk in the city would do:

“These are near journeys, but there are times when they do not satisfy, when one must set out on a far journey, test one’s will and endurance of body, or get away from the usual.  Sometimes the long walk is the only medicine.”
— John Finley, “Traveling Afoot,” from The Pleasures of Walking, edited by Edwin Valentine Mitchell

I planned my pedestrian expedition for one of my days off work.  Now that summer is here, the days are long.  I had always wanted to walk across the I-90 floating bridge, so I set my goal to walk from my home in Green Lake to Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island, a distance of about 14 miles.

I set out under cloudy skies at 7:00 a.m. and, after stopping to take photos and have a coffee and breakfast sandwich, I arrived at my destination at noon. It was a pleasurable walk but hard on my feet.  I had to apologize to my poor feet for the extra 25 pounds I’m carrying. (Another good reason to lose some weight!)  I could have walked more, as the day was still young, but I decided not to risk becoming more footsore.  So I caught a bus home from the Mercer Island Park and Ride.

This experience of walking 14 miles gave me new appreciation for Thoreau’s energy and stamina.  Maybe I can gradually work up to walking 30 miles in one day.

Here are some photos from my first long walk in the city:

7:00 a.m. I left my front door under cloudy skies.

I walked across the UW campus and saw this squirrel in a cherry tree on the Quad.

Rose garden by the fountain on the UW campus

Pale purple rose (UW Husky colors are purple and gold)

8:00 a.m. I cross the bridge over Ship Canal between Lake Union and Lake Washington.

Morning rowers on Lake Washington

Totem pole carved by Haida artist

Signpost to Arboretum Waterfront Trail

The trail skirts the parking lot at the Museum of History and Industry

The trail runs along Hwy 520 floating bridge. Floating walkways link Foster and Marsh Islands. A sign warns of water over the trail. I proceed carefully. It's very muddy on the islands.

I see a blue heron along the trail.

The heron flies off as I approach.

Here the trail is under 4 inches of water. I take my shoes off and wade across.

Wild iris flags

Reflections of the underside of the Hwy 520 floating bridge

Next I walk down through the Washington Park Arboretum.

Western Red Cedar boughs, Washington Park Arboretum

9:00 a.m. I am standing under this Golden English Oak, Washington Park Arboretum.

Maple leaves, Washington Park Arboretum

Peaceful amble through the Washington Park Arboretum

From the Arboretum, I follow Lake Washington Blvd to the shores of Lake Washington. It's now 10:00 a.m. and I am nearing Leschi Marina, with the Bellevue skyline on the opposite shore.

Willows on the shore of Lake Washington

11:00 a.m. After a break for coffee and a breakfast sandwich, I approach the I-90 floating bridge.

I-90 floating bridge over Lake Washington to Mercer Island

Signpost for I-90 Bridge Trail

Almost across, looking back toward Seattle. It's noisy on the bridge.

Luther Burbank Park, Mercer Island

Blackberry blossoms

Old vine on tree looks like a huge crawling insect, Luther Burbank Park

Earthworks, "The Source," in Luther Burbank Park

I take the bus home from the Mercer Island Park & Ride. I transfer in the bus tunnel, Pioneer Square Station.

Hiking Amidst Wildflowers

September 1, 2010

The Naches Peak Loop trail edged by wildflowers

My husband and I revisited another of my favorite hikes, the Naches Peak Loop trail by Chinook Pass in the Cascade Mountains.  The last time I hiked here, a few years ago, it was a sunny day and we were treated to awesome views of neighboring Mount Rainier.  This year, it was clear when we left Seattle, but the clouds were rolling in by the time we got to the trailhead.  We hiked in the clouds and couldn’t see Mount Rainier from the trail.  But the wildflowers were in bloom, and they made this hike worthwhile.

View of Mount Rainier from Hwy 410, as we drive to the trailhead.

The clouds were already rolling in on the slopes of Mount Rainier.

Signpost on the Naches Peak Loop trail near Chinook Pass

One of the tiny lakes just off the trail

Another small mountain lake along the Naches Peak Loop trail

Small stream cuts through a valley along the trail

Silhouette of my husband on the trail

The clouds roll in as we loop around Naches Peak.

The trees trap the moisture from the air.

Wildflowers along the trail

Crimson columbine


Western anemone



Wildflowers by Tipsoo Lake

Hiking at Ebey’s Landing

August 19, 2010

My daughter hiking at Ebey's Landing, July 1996

One of my favorite places to hike is Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island.  I try to go at least once a year.  It’s a lovely hike on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.  I walk back to the trail head along the driftwood-strewn beach.

Trail up to the top of the bluff at Ebey's Landing

View from the top of the bluff back toward the trail head

Dandelion along the trail

A family of hikers from Paris far ahead on the bluff trail

View from the bluff across Admiralty Inlet on Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains

Shades of blue, Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound

Bald Eagle near Ebey's Landing