Walk every Thursday when South Seattle College is in session with WDGT volunteers, including college faculty and staff, who lead a 45-minute hike through different portions of the greenbelt each week. Meet at the South Seattle College tennis courts located in the southeast portion of campus at noon. The length and direction of each hike depends on the wishes of the hikers. There will be no guided Thursday hikes during the college’s winter break, Dec. 12, 19, and 26, 2019 and January 2, 2020.
First Saturday Hikes
The 2019 season featured seven Saturday walks in the West Duwamish Greenbelt, the largest urban forest in Seattle. See descriptions below. These monthly hikes will resume in the spring, each with a theme. The WDGT group deeply appreciates all those who contributed their time and passion to lead hikes this season; the West Duwamish Greenbelt is a busy place!
Mushroom: On October 5th a small gaggle emerged at 14th and Holly for the final Saturday hike of the season. Fungi had formed up around the West Duwamish Greenbelt trails for our mushroom-themed walk. Many mushrooms stuck to their more subtle, camouflaged Fall colors and low profile while the iconic red and orange Amanitas (the “Mario mushrooms”) stood out like small bright sculptures among the damp coppery brown leaf litter. The WDGT group was fortunate and grateful to host Kim Traverse to lead an exploration of fungi livelihood. Kim served for four years as the president of the Puget Sound Mycological Society and is a chief organizer for the annual Wild Mushroom Show which occurs this year October 26 & 27 at North Seattle College.
Geology: September 7 More than 20 hikers joined environmental educator Devin O’Reilly for an exploration of Duwamish Valley geology. Devin explained glacial movements in West Seattle, soil and rock types, river pathways in south Seattle and Renton, and the likely presence of a glacial erratic in the greenbelt.
Land Use History: August 3 Hikers explored the land use history of the West Duwamish Greenbelt with urban forester Paul West. They learned how 500 acres were acquired and how sand and gravel operations, kiln dust contamination, and plans for a freeway have threatened the sustainability of the greenbelt.
Native Plants: July 6 Steve Richmond, an expert in controlling invasive plants and restoring native plant communities, instructed 15 walkers on plant identification and descriptions in the greenbelt.
Native Land: June 1
More than 75 people of all ages walked native land from ridge to river on National Trails Day in the West Duwamish Greenbelt. Ken Workman, a descendant of Chief Seattle, described his personal experience growing up on Puget Ridge and the Duwamish experience of the land on the ridge and along the Duwamish River. The hike left South Seattle College and followed an unimproved trail down to the Duwamish Longhouse on West Marginal Way and back up. Hikers had to walk the parking strip along the busy truck-way because sidewalks are intermittent there. The hike, sponsored by the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails group, highlighted the vision of a ridge to river trail, connecting landscapes nurturing human life for thousands of years.
Insect Discovery: May 4
Thirty-five to forty walkers of all ages joined guest leader Amber Chiozza of Scarabs: the Bug Society, on an insect discovery walk. Amber is an artist/printmaker, art conservator, educator and naturalist with a passion for insects, especially bees & wasps. The walkers included a contingent of first grade enthusiasts from the West Seattle Nature Girls. All the children were provided inexpensive magnifying boxes with which to inspect and release live insect specimens. Pigeon Point Park proved to be the most fitting venue again because of its diverse, sprawling landscape that includes open grassy areas and wooded wetland.
After a short introduction, the group headed to the open areas near the Pathfinder School entrance and spent the remaining time searching grass, lifting rocks and scanning the flowers and bushes. Amber roamed around with a gaggle of children illuminating insect specimens. The group briefly detained a bumble bee just in time to compare it to a fly that looks like a bee; mimicry in nature is not uncommon. Best comment, from a first grader, overheard as we headed back to the trailhead: “That was beautiful. I thought it would be boring.”
See Amber’s exhibit “Crevice & Comb, The diversity and dwellings of wasps and bees” at the CORE Gallery, 117 Prefontaine Pl. S. Meet at the Pigeon Point Park trailhead, 4714 21st Ave. S.W.
Birds of all Kinds, April 6
Expert birder Scott Markowitz from the Tahoma Audubon led a bird hike in Pigeon Point Park. The hike began at 10:00 am at the very moment that the sun broke the rainy weather that had been projected. The group of about 18 participants watched a hummingbird perform a territorial “J-dive” dance, analyzed song sparrow calls, inspected the mossy nest of a bushtit and watched a sharp-shinned hawk out-maneuver angry crows- just to list highlights. The known owl resident was not present, but the group found a pellet beneath its tree and discovered skeletons of small animals on which the owl had snacked.
South Seattle College librarian Randy Nelson led a group on a history hike, describing the streetcar line that ran through the Greenbelt, the sand and gravel operations that left an old road, and the proposal for a Soundway through the greenbelt.
In August 2018 70 of us hiked a Puget Park trail following Puget Creek with Ken Workman 4th generation-great grandson of Chief Seattle. Ken talked about growing up in this neighborhood, finding quiet and an escape from the city in the woods, and about the continuing presence of Duwamish ancestors in the very soil and trees of the greenbelt. A video of his talk/walk will be posted soon.
Come Back to Your Senses, a one-hour mindfulness walk led by Andrea D’Asaro of Awaken to Mindfulness and Ken Workman.
Andrea began guiding the group with mindful breathing practice and continued with slow and then faster walking to wake up the senses and calm restless minds. They paused along the way to observe each sense perception and experience the wisdom of the forest with fresh eyes.
Ken spoke about the connection between Native culture and mindfulness and cultivating a deep connection with the earth.
National Trails Day
For the second year in a row, along with the Nature Consortium, we participated in National Trails Day, June 2, 2018, offering guided hikes in the West Duwamish Greenbelt.