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The walking man walks -- to the locks



I guess I've been in a walking mood the past couple of weekends. On Friday, which I had off for Veterans Day, I walked in the pissing rain downtown to the Cinerama, where I saw Tarsem Singh's great-looking but grotesquely-violent Immortals (2011). Then yesterday I decided it was time to explore the western reaches of the Burke-Gilman trail. Turns out they still haven't closed the gap along Salmon Bay in Ballard, although I thought they'd come to an agreement about the route. It's been difficult, because it's a working waterfront, and the local businesses have resisted. Then again, it's precisely the working waterfront aspect of the area that makes it so interesting.

As always, it was fascinating to see what I could see on foot, as opposed to driving through as I've done in the past. Finally got a chance to see the Ballard Blocks, which is a large development right by the Ballard Bridge, with a huge empty lot across the street with Coming Soon signs on it that may have been a project that was a victim of the economic collapse. Old Ballard, with its charming old brick buildings and air of ancient mystery, was swarming with people. Looked like there was some kind of street event going on, but I avoided it.

At the locks I discovered that the big lock has been drained for maintenance, which is what the picture above is showing. I haven't really spent a lot of time at the locks, and it was a good, physical reminder of how the waterways in Seattle have been engineered. I looked at maps in the visitors center that showed the area before and after the canals were dug and the locks installed. As long as I've lived here, I'd never really figured out where Salmon Bay, Portage Bay, and Union Bay were. I've heard the phrase Montlake Cut for years without really understanding that it referred to the canal between Lake Union and Lake Washington. Then again, the maps called the other canal the Fremont Cut, which is not a phrase I've ever heard that I can remember. I've always heard it called the Ship Canal.

I had intended to continue on to Golden Gardens, but I was really hungry, so I wandered back into Ballard along Market looking for food. There were cool little restaurants all over the place, but I couldn't settle on anything and ended up just hiking restlessly on, up over Phinney Ridge (hell of a climb) and into Wallingford. Ended up back at my beloved Pacific Inn, just a couple blocks from my house, for a reuben sandwich and half a football game.

One thing I hadn't realized is that you can cross the canal at the locks and you're basically in Discovery Park. I've only been to Discovery Park once, many years ago, so maybe that'll be my next hike. If I could find a way to loop back into Fremont via Interbay, I'd see a lot of territory that I've never really explored before.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
kalimac
Nov. 14th, 2011 05:38 pm (UTC)
I walked to the locks on occasion in my Seattle days, but I lived a lot closer to them than you do.
randy_byers
Nov. 14th, 2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
I think the map said it was just over three miles to the locks from my place, and 5.5 miles to Golden Gardens. Whereabouts in Ballard did you live?
kalimac
Nov. 14th, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC)
Just east of the Swedish Medical Center. 51st near 17th.
wrdnrd
Nov. 14th, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
I love when you post these travelogues of your walks. I should stop being so lazy and get out of the danged U-District now and then.
randy_byers
Nov. 14th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
The Cheshiahud Loop seems to have changed my understanding of what's within range of my feet.
wrdnrd
Nov. 14th, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
I was thinking exactly that as i read this! "Oh, that's quite a bit of walking ... wait, no, he just did the Cheshiahud Loop the other weekend."
holyoutlaw
Nov. 14th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC)
I think that would be the Ballard Farmer's Market that you walked past. When we go, it's very obvious how it affects the pedestrian patterns on the streets feeding into it. People with empty tote bags heading south, people with full tote bags heading north.

The way back to Fremont would be W. Government Way to W. Emerson Pl., and then across the spaghetti junction to W. Nickerson St.

Or another route of your choosing. ;>

Between the regrades and the canals, Seattle is the most re-engineered city on the planet. It was remarkably complicated and made everything worse for a long time.
randy_byers
Nov. 14th, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
The cartoon in my head was that they just dug the canals and put in the locks, but looking at the before and after maps made it clear that there was lot more to it than that. One cove was entirely filled in, for example, and there must've been massive dredging as well, because it sounds like Salmon Bay used to be mudflats.

Regarding the return route from Discovery Park, it's the spaghetti junction that I vaguely wonder about. Is there a way to get through that as a pedestrian? Guess I'll find out.
holyoutlaw
Nov. 14th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
That was sort of my cartoon too. But the rivers upland of Lake Washington were seriously affected as well: The Black river used to drain Lake Washington; it disappeared completely when the canal was opened. The Cedar River used to feed into the Black (or Green), now it goes into Lake Washington to provide the water for the canal and Seattle. Another river that fed into the Black/Green/Duwamish systems was rerouted south to Tacoma to provide its water.

This all touches on the Emerald City book I mentioned the other day:

http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780300143195-2
randy_byers
Nov. 14th, 2011 10:09 pm (UTC)
I'm definitely interested in that book.
surliminal
Nov. 14th, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC)
Hey I walked there with Julie!! You two should team up (and fight crime, er maybe not..)
WE missed you this weekend :(
randy_byers
Nov. 14th, 2011 10:44 pm (UTC)
Bet ya the big lock wasn't empty when you were there!

And I missed you lot this weekend too, although at least I participated vicariously via various Facebook posts and e-mail messages.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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