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The character of old Seattle still graces the ambience of the Pioneer Square area of Seattle and along Western Avenue to the Pike Place Market.

The Smith Tower

The Smith Tower

The 42-floor Smith Tower was the tallest building on the West Coast when it was built in 1914.

The 42-floor Smith Tower was the tallest building on the West Coast when it was built in 1914.

Totem Pole in Pioneer Square

Totem Pole in Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square totem pole

Another totem pole by the Iron Pergola

Another totem pole by the Iron Pergola

Ink sketch of Pioneer Square totem pole

Iron Pergola, Pioneer Square

Iron Pergola, Pioneer Square

Vine-covered wall along Western Avenue

Vine-covered wall along Western Avenue

Man hole cover on Western Avenue

Man hole cover on Western Avenue

Along Western Ave

Busker with duct-taped accordion, Pike Place Market

Busker with duct-taped accordion, Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Sketch of rock fish

Sketch of rock fish

“I have never found a city without its walkers’ rewards.”
— John Finley, “Traveling Afoot”

Common sight on urban walks, waiting for the walking sign

I so enjoyed my first long urban hike across the I-90 floating bridge (see yesterday’s post), that I’ve planned several more.

I set out on my second long walk, a journey of 8-1/2 miles, from my home to the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.  I hiked 3-1/2 hours, including stops for photos and coffee and a picnic breakfast, along a route with scenic trails.  Here are some highlights:

6:00 a.m. on the path at Green Lake: notice my long shadow in the early morning light

Summer morning at Green Lake

First stop: the Woodland Park Rose Garden at 50th & Fremont Ave N (unfortunately, the gates did not open until 7 a.m.)

I could still enjoy the roses viewed through my zoom lens!

Tree-lined walk down Fremont Avenue N

Waiting for the Interurban sculpture at Fremont & N 34th Streets. It's a Seattle tradition to decorate these statues.

Trees line the Ship Canal between the locks and Lake Union. My walk took me along the Ship Canal Trail.

Rowers on the Ship Canal

I crossed over the train tracks on W Dravus Street after stopping for coffee at Starbucks.

Mount Rainier seen from the Elliott Bay Trail

I took a short detour off the trail to check out the Amgen Helix Bridge.

The Amgen Helix Bridge is a pedestrian bridge to the Amgen campus.

Looking across Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains from the Elliott Bay Trail

Totem pole along the Elliott Bay Trail

Small rose garden along the trail, with Spaceneedle in the background

Lovely yellow roses

The trail runs along the Olympic Sculpture Park.

I walked along Seattle's waterfront to the Hill Climb to the Pike Place Market.

Flower vendor at the Pike Place Market

Truck at the Pike Place Market

“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.