The Greenway Infinity Loop… begins!

The next adventure has begun! Gabriel and I are walking out our front door to start a 400-ish mile bike-hike-scramble-trail run journey. We’re going from Discovery Park over to Ellensburg via the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail and back home via the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and the Issaquah Alps. Along the way we’re seeking out the western, eastern, southern, and northern points as well as the lowest and highest points of what’s known as the Mountains to Sound Greenway.

When we talk to people about this trip, many of them say, “Greenway-what? Where is this? Why?” I intend to explain and share what the Greenway is over the course of the trip. But first, a few thoughts on why this trip.

 

The idea forms

As we walked toward Snoqualmie Pass, some 2,300 miles into our hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, I saw our backyard mountains with new perspective and great admiration. The Snoqualmie Pickets as our friend Kevin Steffa likes to refer to them, were teethy, craggy snow-clad spires – the first rugged mountains since the Sierra and nearly a thousand trail miles of hiking across volcano country. The peaks were stunning, the forests beautiful, the huckleberry fields plentiful(!) and all this 50 miles from home.

What would it be like to walk here from home? What might we see differently while on a long walk that is overlooked while going 70 mph along I-90? Or taken for granted in the hurried and busyness of day-to-day life?

Reaching Snoqualmie Pass was when the idea for this trip started to form.

 

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Looking down at Snoqualmie Pass in September 2011 on the PCT. We were glad the rain had stopped for a bit and that we’d be getting to our resupply in an hour! The night before we had views of the mountains.

Appreciation for what’s outside our own front door

Every time I cross parts of the PCT, the Chinook Trail, or the Hayduke (& someday, I’ll be back to retrace parts of you beloved CDT) – I get a thrill and stirring of appreciation for having made those journeys. For knowing a little better what places and landscapes surround old footsteps. It’s a feeling of deep gratitude for having had the opportunity and physical ability to be out there, for the landscapes, and for the generations of people who have cared so much for these places.

Why not go on a journey that helps to cultivate that sense of gratitude for the places out our own front door and where we live most of our day-to-day lives?

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Sunrise from Snoqualmie Mountain on a June morning a few days after getting back from the Hayduke. Looking toward Big Snow and the Chimney-Overcoat-Lemah complex.

 

Celebration of public lands!

Thanks to many visionaries and SO MANY people this region has an extraordinary gift. There is a corridor, a greenway if you well, that connects the waters of Puget Sound to the shrub-steppe county of the Columbia Plateau. There is a coordinated network of trails, parks, and natural areas across the land. The work of so many, I’m in awe and feel immense gratitude for what the people of Washington have done to create a gift for everyone who lives here now and for generations to come.

Last spring when we walked across southern Utah and northern Arizona on a route that was all on public lands, I was struck by the contrasts of Utah compared to Washington. While on that journey, I only met people (rangers, ranchers, business owners, recreation enthusiasts) who loved public lands and were working to help take care of them – each in their own way. But at the national level there were comment periods, “conversations”, and then repeals of public land protections to beautiful places, sacred places, places critical to the identity of people who knew the land for many generations and those who had just come to Utah. I kept thinking, in Washington this would NEVER happen.

Here we have taken a different approach to our public lands from the citizen and local club level up through local and state agencies and at the state leadership and national levels – we’re a state committed to protecting our public lands! So many people have been willing to find a way to say yes to conservation – though it wasn’t always easy.

And so, for the next two weeks Gabriel and I are out on a long-ish trip to appreciate, celebrate, and learn along a route we’re calling the Mountains to Sound Greenway Infinity Loop.

This route goes across an interconnected landscape of mountains, natural areas, working forests, farms and communities surrounding the I-90 corridor. The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is the long-time champion for the public lands that we’re about to explore. And as they so aptly state:

We believe that when we are connected with nature, our lives are better

Time to celebrate!

3 thoughts on “The Greenway Infinity Loop… begins!

  1. Bubs! says:

    Marmot, I love this. After I came back from the Hayduke I also started conceptualizing, mapping and planning a multi-sport traverse of one of my “homes”, Minnesota. I still periodically work on keeping that dream alive for someday. I’m so glad you are experiencing the interconnectedness of Washington!

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