Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Urban Beach Beer Hike

(Seattle to Edmonds, WA)

Welcome to another edition of, "Who's Fucking Idea Was This?"

A few weeks ago, Chris found a website devoted to Seattle Metro Bus Hiking.  He was particularly interested in the hikes from Richmond Beach to Carkeek Park and Edmonds to Richmond Beach.  He claimed that as long as we timed low-tide correctly, we could hike along the beach from Greenwood to American Brewing in Edmonds.

I immediately loved the idea.  How hard could it be?  Walking on sand is a little more tiring than I'm used to, but a hike on the beach would be unlike any previous beer hike.  The water, the sunshine, the boats...  Clams squirting water at your heels during low tide, an occasional crane to say hello to.  All we needed to do was grab our sandals and a few cans of beer.  This was going to be fun.

Along the Sound UBH; 9.9 mi.
Chuck's Hop Shop / Beach / American Brewing

View Along the Sound to Edmonds in a larger map

Genius that I am, I stayed out way too late Friday night, drinking pitcher after pitcher of Fremont Summer Ale, so when Saturday morning came, I was far from at my best.  Getting my ass out of bed was a mighty struggle, but I was confident that a nice bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich and a beer would right my ship.

After a half-assed attempt at assembling my day pack (forgot water, dog shit bags, snacks...  fuckin' idiot), Link and I shuffled down to The Ridgeback Cafe, just around the corner from my house.  There's always a bit of a wait on the weekends, but when my breakfast sandwich arrived, I devoured it like a troll.  We were running late for the 11am start time, so Link righty suggested that we take the bus rather than walk the 20 blocks to our launch point.

1. Chuck's 85th Street Market (aka Chuck's Hop Shop)
If you haven't been to Chuck's in a while (or at all), you're in for a great surprise.  He has just about every bottle I've ever heard of and now sports 30 taps.  THIRTY TAPS.  The only problem you'll have is what to choose (the food options are limited as well, but there's a food truck parked outside once in a while.)  Chuck continues to up his game every time I visit.  There's already a good crop of neighborhood regulars that hang out there.  They'd probably like to kick me in the grapes for writing about it and spoiling the secret.  Good thing no one reads this shitty blog.

Chris and I both sipped our Walking Man Strider Pale Ales (he wasn't feeling great either, but he lives near The Stumbling Monk.  What would you expect?)  Luckily Chuck's carries many of the provisions I forgot to pack as well as a terrific selection of canned craft beer.  I took a picture of the can cooler and put it up on Twitter to see what my followers thought I should buy for the long beach hike. Unfortunately none of those (you) deadbeats responded so I grabbed a Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewing.  It seemed appropriate.  Chris opted for a Dale's Pale because he likes the pretty colors on the can.

No shortage of good shit.

With that, we paid our tab, took a piss, and headed north toward Carkeek Park and the shores of Puget Sound.

Carkeek Park
The forest that is Carkeek Park looks small on a map, but it feels big and I imagine it would be an excellent place to ditch a body.  The Piper's Creek trailhead is tucked away at the end of the southeast leg of the park, behind a QFC supermarket.  There are two things of interest right at the start:  a park map and a Mutt Mitt dispenser!  Saved again!  The trail is relatively flat and woody for about 1/3 of a mile, passing over the Creek several times.  There was one spot where we had to climb over a very large fallen tree, but soon we came to a long, narrow clearing.  On a sunny summer weekend like this, there's always lots of people hanging out, barbecuing, having birthday parties, etc.  Unfortunately for them, this is where Link decided to take a massive, nasty crap and the resulting odor took no time to offend more than a few of those nearby.  I scooped it up as best as I could and we got the hell out of there.

Lost already?

The parking lot by the beach is about a mile from the trailhead and there is a big pedestrian overpass that takes you over the railroad tracks and down to the water.  Technically, dogs are not allowed on the beach, but I carried Link down the stairs anyway.  As soon as we reached the shore, we headed north, so I didn't give anyone a chance to shame us or perform a citizen's arrest.

No picnic to walk on.

Puget Sound
Even though we were completely alone as far as the eye could see, the very first leg of the hike SUCKED.  It's very rocky and the going was extremely slow.  The rocks were wet and, at times, covered in barnacles, so I actually had to carry Link.  Forget about taking in the beautiful view of the Sound -- watch where you're going or it's lights out.  A fall on these uneven rocks would not be pretty and help is not real close if you get stuck.  We didn't know at the time that the beach would become infinitely more hiker-friendly, so we were getting a little aggravated.  "It better not be like this the whole way," one of us moaned.  (Probably me.)  Thankfully, about a mile later, the rocks became much smaller and more manageable.  There was even a wide swath of wet, sandy shore -- more than suitable for frolicking.  I let Link off his leash (a rare occasion since he prone to wander) and switched from hiking shoes to sandals.  It was also time to crack that Big Swell IPA that had been getting nice and agitated in my backpack. As I opened it, an orgasm of hoppy suds burst forth and coated my hand.  Thankfully Chris was right there to capture the moment:

Money shot!

Richmond Beach
Around the halfway point in the hike (about 5 miles), we began to see signs of life as we approached Richmond Beach park.  As expected, the beach had no shortage of kids of all ages goofing around in the sand and just generally doing shit people do on the beach.  One particular thing caught our eyes:  a person (presumably), about 6 feet tall, wearing a big black & white fox costume, drawing things in the sand with his feet -- I mean, paws.  A strange sight indeed.  Was this some sort of clown-for-hire at a kids birthday party?

(photo by Gumki)
When we went up to the upper part of the park to use the restroom, we realized what was going on.  A group called RainFurrest was having a meet-up and barbecue. Link was right at home with all the other fur-clad and costumed attendants, but we didn't have time for too much asshole sniffing.  The tide was on it's way back in and we were looking at another 3 hours of walking.

Point Wells and Beyond
Not too far past Richmond Beach, we once again had the entire beach to ourselves.  It wasn't until just before we hit Point Wells that we started to see an odd person here or there, walking their dog or scouring the beach with a metal detector.  There is a lot of industrial looking crap all around the Point -- it looks to be some sort of refinery or fuel transfer station.  For a short while it looked like the beach was going to end and we'd be forced inland, but it was just an illusion.  The beach continues straight under a pier and through to the other side of the complex.  (It feels like you're somewhere you shouldn't be, but there are no forbidding signs anywhere.)  Here we encountered a rather surly old man and his dog, fresh from a profanity-laced confrontation he'd just had with some other beach-goer.  He recounted the story about some, "fat fuckin' camel bitch and her asshole dog", or something.  Man, his blood was still boiling!  After blowing off a little steam, he warned us that we were about to see some "naked peckers" up ahead.  Fuck, I really wanted a beer.  I was cursing myself for not grabbing a second can at Chuck's -- sure it would've been warm, but it would've been good anyway.

Pretty colors.

Peter Point
I knew from the Metro Hiking guide that we'd pass through an unofficial nude beach (technically, it's illegal in WA), but I didn't expect there to be so few people partaking.  We only saw about 15-20 people, but I just figured it would be more...  naked on such a nice day.  Again, we didn't have time for any asshole sniffing.  The tide was coming in and time was not on our side.

When we began to see the Washington State Ferry, we knew we were close.  The beach walking did eventually end, but it's pretty close to the dog park & marina where you want to get off anyway.  We had to scramble up some boulders and carefully cross the railroad tracks to a gravel road that took us the last 100 yards or so to Marina Beach Park.  There's an off-leash area here and even a section of beach set aside just for dogs.  We'd all had enough of the beach though and decided to just head straight for our destination.

Show off.

2. American Brewing 
When we got there, there were only a few other people at the bar.  We settled in next to them and answered the usual questions about my unusual looking dog.  It felt good to sit down after a rough 9.9 miles and I began to work my way down the list of beers.  I started with an American Blonde while Chris preferred a pint of the limited edition Heart of Gold Kölsch.  The beer tasted so good and went down so easy, I was reminded of our awesome hike earlier this year when we pushed a keg-laden wheelchair up a monster hill and arrived at The Beer Authority.  That Fremont IPA was one of the best beers I've ever dumped in my face.  This one was in that realm.

American Brewing Kölsch und Blonde

We had to jump ship after three pints to find something to eat.  (And escape an ever-growing birthday party that was taking over the tap room.)  We spent another couple of hours wandering around Edmonds, checking out some of the bars (unfortunately Gallagher's closed before we could visit) before heading to the doomed Robin Hood Lanes, where I bowled like I had been walking and drinking for 10 hours.

Link inside Jack Murphy's.

Overall, I'd say this hike was a solid success, but I'm not eager to do it again anytime soon.  I've never walked so much between beer stops and while it's good exercise, it kind of misses the point of beer hiking.  It was a lot of fun, even though much of it was spent looking down at the ground so as not to fall on my face.  I really dig seeing Link run around free on the beach.  He loves to do it and we so rarely get the opportunity.  It's always fun meeting interesting locals, even the ones dressed in furry costumes.  It had elements of danger, too, what with the nude beach, the railroad tracks and the acid-spitting old man.

I gotta hand it to Chris.  He comes up with some pretty lofty ideas and I'm as surprised as anyone that we are able to pull them off. He will probably argue that this is one more in a long line of bad decisions, but I had fun (despite getting a pretty mean sunburn.)

Thanks for reading.

Coming up next:  another 10 mile hike.  This one will be in and around Bellingham, WA.  We're going to hit just about everywhere there is to drink good beer there.


  1. The nude beach is named Peter Park? Stop it....

    1. It's true:

  2. I just wanna make it clear that I don't wear fucking sandals. Great writeup, man.

    1. Thanks. I want to make it clear that I was wearing my beach sandals, not my fucking sandals. I save those for the bedroom -- one of the places where I fuck.