Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Give me isolated wilderness, or give me a thriving urban scene.  Suburbs, on the other hand, give me the heebie-jeebies.  However, an afternoon in Bellevue, across Lake Washington from Seattle, opened my eyes to a geography of suburban parks with great trails.

We parked at a fruit stand (unfortunately it was closed) and headed north on the 10 mile Lake to Lake Trail and Greenway.   Historically an area of blueberry fields, the 10 mile greenway trail connects nine parks between Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish.  The trail is surfaced with hard-packed gravel and in good condition.  It winds through second-growth forests, fields of grasses and birds, and fenced-in blueberry fields.

Lake to Lake Trail and Greenway connecting Lakes Washington and Sammamish in Bellevue, WA

The most amazing find was a small blueberry field that was not fenced in.  A moment of post-Catholic guilt (is it really ok to eat these berries?) was followed by continuous mumbling of disbelief (why was nobody else going crazy?).  After a passing dog-walker assured me that the berries could be eaten by the public, and with her "permission," the blueberry-gorging commenced.  Luckily, the berries were high-bush blueberries, so I could stay in my chair to pick.  Over a half of an hour later, with a full stomach and full cup holders on my fanny pack (the only containers I had), we headed back to the car.  I'm pretty sure my tongue was purple.  I know my face had a huge smile.   I still don't understand why there weren't a ton of people there, but what good fortune for me!

Blueberry fields forever

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Seward Park

I am continually amazed by how much beauty is packed into this city and how lucky I am to live here.  Today was no exception.  We went to Seward Park, which juts out on a small peninsula into Lake Washington, and hiked from the top of the hill down to the lake, and then we climbed back up a series of not-as-accessible trails to the starting point.  In 2010, the trails were given names, and signposts at each of the trail junctions clearly mark the trails with appropriate symbols of difficulty.

On the way down, we followed the service road, also known by a spectacularly unpronounceable Duwamish name - Sqebeqsed.  The trail is perfect for wheelchair users -- mostly a very gradual downhill grade on a hard-packed dirt and gravel path, surrounded by old growth forest.

Sqebeqsed Trail at Seward Park

Trail surface

Beginning of trail and big trees

The trail continues down the hill through the forest, eventually reaching Lake Washington, with a view of the Seattle skyline at the bottom.
Lake Washington with Seattle in the background

On the way back, we took less-accessible trails.  Mud, rocks, roots, and steep hills necessitated extra pushing and help.

Why Woodpecker Trail gets a "diamond" for difficulty

Despite the extra challenges, the uphill trip was well worth it, due to the surrounding woods, the solitude of the trails, and the glimpse of a pileated woodpecker.  Near the end of the hike, we again took a less-developed trail back to the car, but this time the path was once again hard-packed and clear of obstacles.
Andrews Bay Trail

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Discovery Park Loop Trail

Having fixed my inner tube and tire, we set out once again for the unpaved Loop Trail in Discovery Park.  The trail led through forests with beautiful trees, a variety grasses, chirping (with birds) bushes, and a viewpoint with a sweeping vista out over Puget Sound. 

The highlight for me was the big sandy area, an alternate side trip on top of a sand dune next to the actual trail.  I got to test the Freedom Chair’s ability to move on sand.  Granted, I could only go a little way before getting tired, especially when going uphill, but I was moving nonetheless.  The trail was a bit sandy before and after the sand dune, but otherwise it was medium-packed or even hard-packed dirt – quite feasible for a manual chair with a third wheel.

The trail led to the paved road/trail where we had hiked last time (West Point lighthouse and wastewater treatment plant), so we turned around and made our way back through the abandoned houses on this former military base.