Monday, February 22, 2010

Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park: Running, Sunning, and Surfing

So much sunshine in February—it’s a little disconcerting for us Mossbacks! We’re used to hunkering down and quaffing generous infusions of caffeine to get through dreary, gray late winter. But with a string of consecutive (!), unusually mild, spring-like days, we’re like hermit crabs crawling out from under our shells, seized with the compulsion to get outside in the sun.

Like moths to a flame, many Seattleites are drawn to our local beaches on bright, blue sky days. I live pretty close to Golden Gardens Park on the western edge of the city, so today I head down to get some exercise and bask in the view of the Olympics across Puget Sound.

For a good quad and glute workout, the stairway trail delivers. Alpine Ascents International even suggests climbing this trail to train for mountain climbing. I start at the tunnel under the railroad tracks across from the parking lot at the southern side of the park.

With a funky combination of old, stone-paved stairs, sidewalk, dirt path, and concrete stairs, the trail ascends 325 feet.

About a third of the way up (before it gets steep), I pass the leash-free dog park. It reminds me of a kindergarten playground with all the dogs big and small checking each other out.

My knees start whining as I top out at the end of 85th Avenue Northwest in the Sunset Hill neighborhood in Ballard. Organic coffeehouse Café Fiore beckons me to stop and grab a quick cup of tea. (I always have time for tea.)

It’s an interesting mix of humanity and canines going up and down these stairs. A few lean runners with zero percent body fat pass me. (I'm dawdling with the camera.)

And regular folks with their dogs.

After my workout, I stroll out to the beach. At first I wonder what the heck all these families with kids are doing out here on a weekday afternoon, then I remember it’s winter break for Seattle schools.

Down here by the water’s edge, a persistent wind whips hair across my face. Not good for keeping my hair in place, but great for the kite flyers and surfers and sailors. With the bracing sea breeze and endorphin buzz from climbing up and down the stairway trail, I head home refreshed. Check out my clip of a kite surfer with the Olympics as the backdrop. (Sorry for the jiggly camera motion at the end!)

When You Go

Here’s a map to Golden Gardens. Parking can be iffy on nice spring and summer afternoons and evenings, but try parking in the lot just south of the park entrance instead of passing through the park gate.


Lesley said...

Spring is just around the corner now!

Barry said...

I once walked up the stairs on a pitch black night - and it turned out to be a surprisingly frightening experience. Although the stairs tip at a variety of different angles, they are basically stable. But, on that evening, my mind wasn't so stable. I grasped frantically for a handrail - and there wasn't always one available. Talk about clinging mind!

jill said...

Hey Lesley, ahhhhh. Of course the weather turned gray and damp the day after I posted this. But the plants already think it's spring. Spring! Soon!

Barry, oooh! Scary. Perhaps clinging flashlight is appropriate here?

Lindsey said...

What a great reminder to get out to GG and take a are amazing as usual.

Angela S said...

Jill, I was just at Golden Gardens last Sunday. I went there impulsively after running some errands. I haven't been in ages. Last Sunday was a gorgeous day too. I'm very, very tempted to move to Ballard. Everyone I know who lives in Ballard swears by it. The stairs look intimidating. Maybe I'll get up the nerve this weekend and try them.

Jill said...

Hey Angela,
Ballard is great, but definitely morphing with the growth and change in demographics. I love it.
Those stairs were hard on my knees - go for it but you might have to pop some vitamin I afterwards!

Yea, you are closer to GG! Thanks for the photo compliment!