Walking along Lake Washington Blvd, Seattle

Walking along Lake Washington Blvd, Seattle

I continued my long walk around the periphery of Seattle with another segment on the eastern border of the city.  Most of this day’s walk was along the shores of Lake Washington on good sidewalks in dappled shade.  My husband dropped me off in the Laurelhurst neighborhood at 42nd N.E. and I hiked south from there.

Blackberry blossoms

Blackberry blossoms

You really can’t go far in Seattle without seeing blackberry bushes growing wild.  They were in full blossom.

Center for Urban Horticulture

Center for Urban Horticulture

I soon arrived at the Center for Urban Horticulture where I wandered around the flower beds and botanic gardens.  There is always something delightful growing and blooming here.

At the Center for Urban Horticulture

At the Center for Urban Horticulture

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The path through the cultivated gardens leads on into the wild Union Bay Natural Area, where meadows are under restoration to improve the habitat for birds and other small animals.

Path between the Center for Urban Horticulture and the Union Bay Natural Area

Path between the Center for Urban Horticulture and the Union Bay Natural Area

Union Bay Natural Area

Union Bay Natural Area

The trail continued onto the University of Washington athletic complex, past soccer and track fields, tennis courts, the boathouse, and Husky Stadium.  I walked across the Montlake Bridge over the Ship Canal, which links Lake Washington and Lake Union, and from there headed to the Washington Park Arboretum.

Montlake Bridge over the Ship Canal

Montlake Bridge over the Ship Canal

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I passed an old totem pole carved by Haida Chief John Dewey Wallace from Waterfall, Alaska in 1937.  I intended to follow the Arboretum trail across Foster Island, but parts of the trail were under water.

Haida totem pole

Haida totem pole

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Instead I entered the Arboretum near E Miller Street in the Montlake neighborhood.  Once in the Arboretum, I headed toward its eastern boundary and followed it south.  I was still separated from Lake Washington by the Broadmoor Golf Course and its gated community.  I hadn’t walked this part of the Arboretum before and the path took me past magnificent tree specimens and a garden showcasing plants from the Pacific Rim.

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Path in Washington Park Arboretum

Path in Washington Park Arboretum

Tulip poplar tree

Tulip poplar tree

Looking up

Looking up

Eucalyptus branch, Pacific Connections Garden

Eucalyptus branch, Pacific Connections Garden

Calla lily at south entrance to Arboretum

Calla lily at south entrance to Arboretum

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Upon exiting the Arboretum, I walked to Madison Avenue and followed it all the way to the shores of Lake Washington.  The rest of my long walk followed the lakeshore through these Seattle neighborhoods:  Madison Park, Madrona, Leschi, Mount Baker, Lakewood/Seward Park and Rainier Beach. As you can imagine, the residential areas were lined with beautiful homes with lovely landscaping.  Lake Washington Boulevard attracts bikers and joggers, and the lake itself is a recreation spot for swimmers, picnickers and boaters.

Rooftop garden on home in Madison Park

Rooftop garden on home in Madison Park

I was amazed by all the different colors on this hydrangea bush

I was amazed by all the different colors on this hydrangea bush

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Window on home along Lake Washington Blvd

Window on home along Lake Washington Blvd

I walked past the I-90 floating bridge across Lake Washington

I walked past the I-90 floating bridge across Lake Washington

Rowers on Lake Washington

Rowers on Lake Washington

I walked as far as Rainier Beach and then headed to the Light Rail Station to catch a ride back home.

Estimated walking distance:  about 14 miles

“Of such journeys on foot which I recall with greatest pleasure are some that I have made in the encircling of cities.”
— John Finley, “Walking Afoot,” from The Joys of Walking, ed. Edwin Valentine

“One cannot know the intimate charm of the urban penumbra who makes only shuttle journeys by motor or street car.”
— John Finley, “Walking Afoot,” from The Joys of Walking, ed. Edwin Valentine

Looking north to Shoreline on the boundary of Seattle

Looking north to Shoreline on the boundary of Seattle

I realized as I began my goal of walking the boundaries of the city of Seattle that this was an arbitrary undertaking, and like most self-imposed goals, I immediately began questioning why I was doing it.  I like the idea of being an explorer of the world, and I believe that all it takes to live an adventuresome life is to have the right attitude — curiosity, wonder, attentiveness, and ultimately getting off the couch and doing rather than dreaming.  I didn’t need a reason.  I just needed to put one foot in front of the other.  I would be an explorer in my own backyard.

I started the first day’s periphery walk along the northern boundary of Seattle at North 145th Street and Aurora Avenue North.  The first part of the walk was not that pleasant, as N 145th is a busy street with rushing traffic and narrow sidewalks.  I headed east toward Lake Washington, which was about 2.75 miles away.

The campus at Lakeside School

The campus at Lakeside School

I passed Lakeside School, a private school whose most famous alumni are Bill Gates and Paul Allen, founders of Microsoft.  Years ago, the Seattle Chamber Music Society held summer concerts at Lakeside School and they piped the music to the lawn, where everyone was welcome to bring a blanket and picnic while listening to music under the stars.  My daughter and I often  took advantage of these fun events.

St. Joseph Carmelite Monastery

St. Joseph Carmelite Monastery

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As I neared the freeway, I noticed a sign for a Carmelite Monastery, so I detoured to investigate.  I wasn’t aware that there were cloistered nuns in my city.  The Carmelites are a contemplative order who spend their days in silence, solitude, and prayer within their little community.  The grounds were inaccessible, set apart by a high fence, but the church was open.  Unfortunately, my arrival did not coincide with their Liturgy of Hours, so I missed the experience of shared prayer.  Still, the church with its stained glass, arched windows was a quiet oasis in the city.

Crossing I-5 as traffic heads south into the city

Crossing I-5 as traffic heads south into the city

Crossing over I-5, I thought about how we Americans would find it inconceivable to live without our private automobiles.

“Traffic is the blood in the veins of this city, endlessly flowing, pumping between the parts.”
— Adam Nicolson, from Two Roads to Dodge City

Vehicles speed us to our destinations, but I would be forgoing efficiency for the slow movement of my feet, hoping to discover the “intimate charms” Finley extols in my opening quotes.

Once I reached the shores of Lake Washington on the eastern boundary of Seattle, I was able to walk on the Burke Gilman Trail, a walking/biking paved path set apart from street traffic.  With the lake on my left, I strolled in shady comfort past beautiful lakeside homes.

Burke Gilman Trail

Burke Gilman Trail

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Plants along the trail

Plants along the trail

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Lakeside home

Lakeside home

I stopped for a picnic lunch at Mathews Beach Park where families were out enjoying the sunny, warm day.  It felt good to rest.

Resting at Mathews Beach Park on Lake Washington

Resting at Mathews Beach Park on Lake Washington

Mathews Beach Park

Mathews Beach Park

I continued south on the Burke Gilman Trail to Magnuson Park, a huge park with its own labyrinthine paths and sports fields. I exited the park and arrived in the Windemere neighborhood, where I walked along Windemere Avenue to Sand Point Way.  After five hours, I was getting footsore, so I ended my day at University Village where I treated myself to a smoothie.  Refreshing!

Total distance: about 11 miles

 

 

“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.