“A pedestrian is a man in danger of his life.  A walker is a man in possession of his soul.”
— David McCord

I admit I was a bit apprehensive about this third leg of my circumambulation of Seattle because the southern perimeter zigs and zags across industrial areas. It’s not a straightforward boundary line because Boeing Field interrupts the trek east to west. I would be leaving the flat, scenic shoreline of Lake Washington and heading toward Puget Sound. I’m not familiar with south Seattle, as I live and work in a northern neighborhood, so I didn’t know what to expect.

My husband came along to keep me company for the first part of the day’s walk. We started at South Kenyon Street and walked to the lakeshore. We walked south along Lake Washington to Thayer Street, not quite to the Renton border. At Thayer, we headed uphill to begin our walk west. This was the first of several uphill stretches on our journey.

Steep stairway up Thayer St

Steep stairway up Thayer St

Rather than follow each zig and zag along the city’s south boundary line, we fudged a bit to take in some more natural pathways. Our first destination was the Kubota Garden. We found the southernmost entrance by Mapes Creek overgrown with blackberry brambles. So we continued on to the main entrance on S 55th Street. The Japanese garden was a tranquil place early in the morning and we were its only visitors. It was an in-between time in terms of color. The rhododendron bloom was past its peak. But the curved paths took us past thoughtfully landscaped ponds and lawns, so it was a lovely meander.

We did not attempt to walk through this overgrown, brambly path, but instead chose a different entrance to the Kubota Gardens

We did not attempt to walk through this overgrown, brambly path, but instead chose a different entrance to the Kubota Gardens

Gated entrance

Gated entrance

Rabbit in the gardens

Rabbit in the gardens

The tranquility of a Japanese garden

The tranquility of a Japanese garden

IMAGE_5189

We exited the Kubota Garden on Renton Avenue and headed west toward the Rainier Beach light rail stop. There we intercepted the Chief Sealth trail, a bike and pedestrian trail along a green belt. The paved trail wove up and down in a grassy meadow landscape.

IMAGE_5191

Chief Sealth trail

Chief Sealth trail

At Kenyon Street we headed west to Beacon Avenue, followed it until it turned into Swift Avenue, and continued north along I-5. We were under the noisy flight path of planes destined for Seatac Airport and Boeing Field.

IMAGE_5196

We crossed I-5 at Albro Street and rested for a few minutes at Ruby Chow Park. Then George caught a bus back to his truck, and I continued on my way west. I walked to S Eddy Street in the Georgetown neighborhood and followed it to Michigan Street. I continued on Michigan to the First South Bridge, whose Duwamish bike trail provided pedestrian access across the Duwamish River. Now I was in the heart of the industrial area of Seattle – barges, concrete, traffic, storage lots for all sorts of industrial materials.

The Duwamish River

The Duwamish River

View looking back toward downtown Seattle from the First South Bridge

View looking back toward downtown Seattle from the First South Bridge

IMAGE_5200

IMAGE_5201

IMAGE_5203

IMAGE_5204

I followed the zig-zag bike path to the South Park neighborhood. The library there provided a clean and quiet space for a break before I headed up the hill on Cloverdale, over Hwy 509, and up into West Seattle.

Shaded street in South Park neighborhood

Shaded street in South Park neighborhood

IMAGE_5207

As I crossed Hwy 509, I looked down onto this street light, a resting spot for a pigeon

As I crossed Hwy 509, I looked down onto this street light, a resting spot for a pigeon

Once again I fudged a bit on my periphery route, bypassing the point at Arbor Heights in favor of a more direct walk west. I took Roxbury to 8th Avenue SW, then 8th to Henderson St, and Henderson to Barton St and 35th Avenue SW.

I marveled at the beautiful flowers and landscaping I saw along the residential streets, but the highlight was the Barton Street Pea Patch on 35th Avenue SW. Everything looked so healthy and full of life. The colorful poppies and pink peonies were eye catching. The prolific pea plants gave special meaning to the concept of a “pea patch” garden. If I lived in this neighborhood, I would definitely get on the waiting list for a spot in this community garden.

From a yard along SW Henderson St

From a yard along SW Henderson St

The perfect rose

The perfect rose

IMAGE_5233

Sunflower in the pea patch

Sunflower in the pea patch

Poppies

Poppies

Peas in the pea patch

Peas in the pea patch

Visitors in the pea patch

Visitors in the pea patch

I took a short two-block detour on 35th to the Southwest Branch of the Seattle Public Library for a needed break before catching the Rapid Line C back to downtown Seattle.

Walking distance: about 13 miles

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

IMAGE_5048

IMAGE_5042

IMAGE_5040

IMAGE_5047

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

IMAGE_5055

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

IMAGE_5061

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.

IMAGE_5062

IMAGE_5066

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

IMAGE_5077

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

IMAGE_5086

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

IMAGE_4960

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

IMAGE_4976

Plants along the trail

Plants along the trail

IMAGE_4977

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