The map of the scenic byways of Madrona and Leschi are just part of the pleasure of Jake Jaramillo and Cathy Jaramillo’s Seattle Stairway Walks. This is a beautifully constructed pocket-sized guidebook as the books publisher, The Mountaineers Books, is so well known for. It’s packed with 25 walking tours, with detailed instructions, photographs and stories.
Jake and Cathy led a tour of the Madrona/Leschi walk on February 9 and I was happy to tag along with the group of 20. We began at St. Therese’s School, wound our way down to Madrona Woods, hooked through the Madrona Stream Restoration, then up and down Leschi streets and stairways, past the Leschi Natural Area, finishing where we started—after climbing down 371 stairs and up 299 stairs. I wasn’t sure how I would do, since I hadn’t done that much climbing in a while, but it went well for me and seemed okay with the rest of us. Along the way, we had talks about neighborhood history and a pitch for joining FeetFirst, the tour’s sponsor.
What is so special about these tours? To me, it’s the surprises and discoveries along the way—sudden views, spectacular homes snuggled in the hilly woods, treasured habitat areas nurtured by local volunteers, and great cues for walking shortcuts. It’s not bad exercise either. Jake and Cathy are obviously head over heels in love with their adopted city, having moved here a decade ago from southern California.
This book is highly recommended. I grabbed my copy at Costco, but many local bookstores are carrying it. I’m keeping it in a zip-locked bag as it’s destined to weather frequent excursions. Oh, and check FeetFirst on Facebook for more photographs of stairway walking tours, and the website feetfirst.org. Who knows, walking with FeetFirst could become a habit, just as tromping with this book could become a habit!