Seattle: Pike’s Place Market, Lincoln Park, and the San Juan Islands
It is official. As of last Wednesday, I am on the road. It feels good to have everything I need in a backpack again. For me, there is nothing better than entering a new city/place with an open-mind and a packed backpack.
I caught a one-way ticket to Seattle and decided to spend a few days there. It had been over 10 years since I’d been to Seattle, so I was looking forward to seeing the city again. After dropping off my bags and getting my bearings, I caught a bus to the city center. I decided to be a hardcore tourist for my first day, so I went to Seattle’s most famous sites: Pikes Place Market and the Space Needle.
I enjoyed my time walking through the market, especially the outdoor part. I also can’t forget to mention about the fish throwing. I totally forgot how much of a spectacle it is, watching fish fly across a crowd of people. I then continued walking through the city, letting the Space Needle be my guide.
After seeing the Needle and eating delicious clam chowder, I met a very friendly lady named Youjin. She bought me a peach and invited me to walk along the pier with her. Soon after, we met a nice man named Fearas (my spelling is probably off). We all had one thing in common: we were all traveling alone. Soon enough, we were all friends and I brought up the idea to explore a new part of Seattle called Lincoln Park. They were delighted and we all jumped into Fearas’ car.
The park itself has dirt trails meandering through tall firs and pines. We walked through this area until we reached a cliff edge. We followed this trail till it started to veer down towards the sound (the water). Now this is the trail to write home about. This paved path offers pedestrians and cyclists a fantastic view of Seattle’s sound. It was so beautiful down there and a must-see if you have a car in Seattle. I was happy to share this experience with my new friends.
I thought the day couldn’t get better, but after being dropped off at my friend’s house by Fearas, I received a text message from a stranger from couchsurfing.com. The message said that a group of people was going up to the San Juan Islands for a day hike and that there was one spot open. Without hesitation, I said yes and asked when and where they were meeting. They said they were meeting at 7am in downtown Seattle the following morning. I told them I’d be there.
San Juan Islands: Orcas Island and Mt. Constitution
I caught the 6am bus to get to downtown Seattle in time for our rendezvous. We met on a street corner, 2nd and Pike, and I was the first to arrive. It’s always a funny experience to find people who you’ve never met before. I end up giving everyone a “are you a couchsurfer look,” and then if there is no response, I look sheepishly away. Luckily, my big hiking boots were a dead giveaway and Corinna was to first to find me, then Brad, and then Randy. Soon enough there was a gaggle of couchsurfers, ready and excited to explore the San Juan Islands.
The drive up to the ferry building was nice and easy. We even made it with time to spare. We drove the car onto the ferry and then once we were unanchored, we all went up above deck to enjoy the hour long ride. When we got to the outer railing, I stood and watched my surroundings. The scenery was so picturesque, I couldn’t believe that someplace so beautiful was only a short drive from Seattle. As we went along, I noticed that each island had their own shape and personality. They all seemed to be covered in firs and hemlocks and some had houses/cabins on the shore, while others seemed uninhabited.
When we reached Orcas Island, we were all very much ready to get up into the mountains. But, we weren’t there quite yet, we had to drive for another 20-30 minutes to get to the island’s largest park: Moran State Park. This park is famous for its’ tallest peak, Mt. Constitution, which (supposedly) has the best view of the San Juan Islands. Our goal that day was to reach the top.
Once we parked our car, we all jumped out, got our hiking shoes on, and hit the trails. It was evident that these trails were going to be exceptional. It smelled of fresh detritus, the fir trees were thick, its crevasses deep, and the trail followed ridge line to ridge line through open valleys and narrow gorges.
There were moments on trail that I felt so small. Once, we entered a mossy valley, which seem to have been untouched for centuries (except for the path we were on). The firs and hemlocks were so tall and completely covered in moss and lichen. While walking past them, though they were so tall, they seemed small in comparison to the cliffs that flanked us on both sides. There were also the moments when we were hiking along a ridge line and you could see the sound through the thick stand of trees.
I’d say it took us almost 2 hours to reach the top (we didn’t start at the bottom, we started at Cold Springs trailhead). We were getting pretty winded by the time we reached the top, but goodness was it worth it. There was even an observatory tower that made the view on top of Mt. Constitution much grander. From the tower, you could see Vancouver B.C., Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, and the northern Cascades. I sat upon the edge and looked out into the distance for a long time. It is hard to believe that within 48 hours, I had found myself in one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. I am very thankful for my new friends who invited me to join them on their trip.
The best part of the whole trip was watching the sunset on the ferry ride back to Anacortes, WA. It had been far too long since I’d seen a sun set over the ocean.
One of my goals for this trip is to see as many beautiful places as possible. I want to fill my life with happiness, beauty, and new experiences. It has definitely started out with a bang and I look forward to what more is to come.