Hempfest - Seattle's Ode to All things Marijuana - clogs up the park I want to run through Sunday afternoon. So I decide to try Discovery Park. I would actually like to run to it, but there is no trail leading into it. By now you will have noticed my running pattern involves avoiding streets. What's wrong with streets? Hmmmm. Being hit by a car is the number one reason. But also, I don't like having to turn up my ipod all the way to drown out the car noise. Plus inhaling the exhaust fumes mentally (if not physically) defeats the goal of enhancing health. Plus I don't want to get hit by a car. Nala either.
The 500 plus acre park is on the peninsula of Magnolia. http://www.cityofseattle.net/parks/Environment/discovparkindex.htm. The miracle of so much park land being so close to the heart of the city, lies in it having been Fort Lawton in a prior life. There is a 2.8 mile loop that I plan on travelling a couple of times. Off I start with Nala.
We transition from paved parking lot to a mainly dirt imbedded with gravel path that winds its way up and down through pristine heavily wooded areas. I am immediately transported back to my childhood. We grew up just outside of Lake Forest Park in North Seattle. We lived on a hill that was sparsely constructed upon because: it was quite a hill. There were ravines and bluffs and we were always hiking, up, down and around them. There were lots of kids in the neighborhood. We were constantly spying on one another, having blackberry fights, and pretending to live in the trees. I even remember there being heavy vines that we could swing upon to fly from one big tree branch to the other. No wait - I think that was from a Tarzan movie. Regardless, as I enter Discovery Park I am back in my childhood.
There is one unique consequence, in particular, of living on a big hill. You have to go up it. You have to go down it. Discovery Park is no different. There is not a single area of that path that is a flat straight of way. It is also quite dark because the trees form an almost total canopy. I'm keeping my eyes out for tree roots, and letting Nala pull me along. There are more than 11 miles of trails, but that means getting off the loop. I do this (unintentionally) several times. Thankfully it is not hard to find your way back because there are marker posts every several hundred feet. The trails I don't like are those that are so steep that there are wooden beams forming stairs. At one point, I'm midway down an entire hillside of them when I think - Forget that! Back to the loop.
As I'm huffing up a long steady incline I can see glimmers through the trees. We shoot out onto a flat grassy meadow that has a breathtaking 180 degree view of the Sound and Olympic Mountains. There are approximately seven people looking at the tableau. I'm thinking, why is it that a park like this is so empty. I guess one purpose of a park is to preserve land. But another purpose is to allow the millions of people that live in the region access to a place that connects them to the natural world that we live over. I think perhaps it is a bit of a conspiracy. The residents don't want their streets clogged. They get to have their own private ginormous, awesome park. The government preserves land without having to worry about people significantly utilizing it. What a shame that more people don't discover the joys of this amazing park. Of course there is always a positive side. Nala is being especially good because there are so few opportunities for her to engage in doggie road rage.