Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tarboo Bay

Tarboo Bay is located at the northernmost end of much larger Dabob Bay, sheltered behind an elegant series of spits.


This small site at the very head of the bay was recently restored by the Northwest Watershed Institute, the local organization that has spearheaded so much restoration work in this area. A year ago, there was a building built on piles over the water and an old timber bulkhead, but the structures have since been removed and the bank and the old driveway have been replanted with native trees and shrubs. In a few years, it will blend perfectly with the adjacent landscape.

The now unprotected bank is eroding, supplying coarse gravel to build a small beach and sand that is reshaping a tiny beach nearby. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the marsh to recolonize the beach surface - wave energy is sufficiently low here that vegetation is the natural end point rather than a beach, something seen by looking at the adjacent shoreline to the north where marsh grass obscures the gravel beach beneath.

Dabob Bay

I don't get to this remote corner of Puget Sound very often, and not many others do either, so it remains a relatively pristine landscape. The last time I visited was 8 years ago, on a day a little bleaker than this one (Broad Spit: October 2007).


One of the things that struck me on that trip was how difficult it is to find small stream mouths on Puget Sound - even way back here - that haven't been significantly modified. They were the natural place to sluice logs out of the hills, to homestead, to construct shingle mills and oyster farms, and later, to build vacation homes. Valley bottoms were cleared, streams channels were relocated, and spits and small estuaries were buried. Reference sites for restoration projects are hard to find.

Once riprap, now a beach
Local groups, along with DNR and the Nature Conservancy and others, have patched together a large mosaic of forested uplands, beaches, and tidelands here in northern Dabob Bay and are in the process of restoring the more disturbed sites. Some work has already been done here - a bulkhead was removed and some roads were taken out from an earlier development effort on the hillside. But now there's an opportunity to do more and I'm looking forward to coming back in a few years to see what it looks like.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Point No Point

Point No Point is an important landmark - the southernmost of three prominent points that mark the western entrance into Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound. Point Wilson in Port Townsend. Marrowstone Point. And Point No Point. Each has a small lighthouse. Each is a cuspate foreland.


Cuspate forelands are triangular landforms that typically form where wave action approaches from two different directions. Longshore transport moves sediment toward the point from each direction, resulting in an accumulation of material and the growth of the feature. Sand and gravel may accrete on one limb or the other of the landform, or may be lost off the tip into deep water.

The old t-sheets show a tidal inlet on the north side, serving a large wetland behind the beach homes along Point No Point and Norwegian Point (which is basically a western continuation of the same barrier beach). The wetland is now broken up by development and drainage systems and the open tidal channel to the north has been replaced by a pipe and tide gate on the east.

On this visit, there was a distinct scarp high on the beach where recent wave action had dropped the sandy beachface half a foot or so.

The Point offers great views of Puget Sound to both north and south. Mount Rainier and the high rises of Seattle are visible to the south. Mount Baker rises over Whidbey Island to the northeast.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

North Kitsap

A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to see some of northern Kitsap County from the water. I took plenty of photos on our trip from Indianola north to Foulweather Bluff, but have had trouble figuring out what was interesting enough to post. The real problem is that I prefer to base my entries on a single location and boat trips tend to generate scattered pictures from many different places.

So I'll post a few from some different spots with brief captions. I did something like this from a similar trip several years ago. Kitsap Bluffs: April 2009.

High bluffs in Indianola
Doe Kag Wats - there's a big salt marsh behind that beach
House perched on glacial till at Point Jefferson
Typical bluff top development near President Point

We only saw one beach construction project all day - and it was this
rock revetment being taken out!
Unstable slopes immediately north of Kingston. The shoreline from here north
for several miles is marked by deep-seated landslides
More deep-seated slides - and a nice stretch of natural beach. In the late 1990s,
much of this stretch was geologically active and several development projects failed
The northeast end of Foulweather Bluff, where sliding appears to be occurring
adjacent to some recent development. Note scarps above the bluff right of center.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Crab Park

Apparently, this waterfront green space east of downtown Vancouver began as Portside Park (fitting given its location), but has been renamed CRAB Park to memorialize its early supporters. Their cause was admirable - and successful: Create a Real Accessible Beach. But naming a beach with an acronym seems more like a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers thing to do!

You find this place by walking through Gastown, continuing on to Main Street, then looping up and over the tracks and down to the water. It is sort of hard to find, but what a nice little gem amidst the industry and rail yards and legacy of East Vancouver.


This pocket beach faces north across Burrard Inlet. The beachface was sandy at the east end, more gravelly at the west, with a fairly abrupt transition. Maybe this represents some manipulation (recently added material?), but I'm guessing it's a natural shift reflecting an asymmetry resulting from waves that approach more from the northwest than the northeast. I think this is consistent with some erosion of the bank behind the western end of the beach.

This was an awfully gray evening. Note to self: come back early on a clear morning, when the sun is shining on downtown and there are blue skies to the west.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thunder Mountain Lake

Upper Thunder Mountain Lake lies at roughly 6400', just east of the Cascade crest, and therefore drains towards Icicle Creek and Leavenworth. Most of its modest shoreline consists of granitic slabs or large granitic boulders that have arrived from the surrounding slopes. The steep, rocky shores don't lend themselves to beaches, because there is little sand or gravel size sediment and even if there were, it would be lost rapidly to the bottom of the lake.

But at the north end, where the bottom is more gradual, a beach has formed. More accurately, a small stream delta has formed, but there is sufficient wave action to have reworked it into a beach. A series of berms mark the progressive fall of the lake over the summer.


The source of the sediment is a small basin that yields grus (the granular remains of weathered granite) that the seasonal stream can easily carry to the lake. Most of the action probably happens in the early summer by water flowing from the melting snowpack or perhaps in occasional heavy rains. I suspect that lighter rains probably soak pretty fast into the porous soil and yield little surface flow to transport material, but this is not exactly a system I'm familiar with.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Quarry Beach

Tafoni weathering in sandstone
There can't be many publicly accessible beaches on Salt Spring that I haven't visited at this point, but each year I try to find something new. And fortunately, I think people on the island have done a pretty good job of generating new access points to keep me amused.

This is what most folks would probably call a rocky beach. It's not far from Vesuvius Bay (August 2013), where the geology is similar, but where at least there's a small cove to trap a nice little beach. Here, there's just not much beach, which makes it easier to admire the steeply tilted sedimentary layers of the Nanaimo Formation.

Could almost be a Seahawk

Yeo Point

Yeo Point itself is not a beach, but a rocky promontory at the north end of Ruckle Park on the southeastern corner of Saltspring Island. But it shelters a small, gravelly pocket beach on its south side. Nothing remarkable, but wonderfully quiet and secluded early on a weekday morning. More photos at hshipman.

On the north side of the point, there is an even smaller beach - probably not a beach at all by normal folks' standards. It's basically an accumulation of sand and gravel-size shell fragments (it's the only sediment available) pushed up onto the rocky ledges.

St Mary Lake

This relatively small lake on Saltspring Island has neither the waves nor the sediment to form natural beaches and is fringed by reeds everywhere except where the bedrock plunges too steeply to provide any shallow water where vegetation can take hold. And like most lakes in the great northwest, the original shoreline was probably once a tangle of fallen trees.

This beach is artificial, probably created many decades ago by cutting the vegetation, building two small rock groins, and dumping a few truckloads of coarse sand. I suppose they may have added a little sediment since, but in the 18 years I've been visiting it, I've seen very little change. 


Like all pocket beaches, it is swash-aligned, facing the dominant wind waves coming up the lake (corresponding to the maximum fetch). There's not a lot of action on this beach. There are no tides, although there is some seasonal fluctuation in the lake level. On windy days, waves can create small (tiny) berms, but mainly they just leave a line of froth. The only significant morphological change is the result of junior engineers building boat basins and sand castles.

I thought I'd added this beach to my collection years ago, but apparently this is its first appearance in this blog.  Ironic, given I've probably spent more time contemplating this beach than any other. It does show up regularly every August in my hshipman blog (here are posts from 2010, 2011, and 2012).

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Mission Creek

Mission Creek is another small stream mouth with a long history. The old road cut across the mouth of the estuary on a small causeway but in the last couple of years, local groups have worked together to remove the armor and the fill and the creek now flows freely.


This site is at the south end of Olympia's Priest Point Park and within sight of the Capitol Building and the city's Port Peninsula. There's not much wave energy here on Budd Inlet. The shoreline in the park north of this site consists of a small promontory of Pleistocene gravel that would probably be long gone if the waves were bigger and a salt marsh that has formed without the need for a protective spit.

One the challenges of restoring these small stream mouths - besides the occasional railroad (see previous post) - is their cultural history. These places were probably always important Native American sites. They were low-lying areas with fresh water and easy access to the Sound. And later they were the obvious places for settlers to homestead or to build fishing camps and shingle mills. That means that although restoration may sound good to everyone, it is very difficult to do it without disturbing something of importance to someone.