Monday, February 16, 2009

Carkeek Park

Piper's Creek is one of Seattle's better know urban streams, draining three square miles of the city's northwest neighborhoods. It has several hundred spawning salmon (fishus iconicus) and provides foraging for tens of thousands of school kids every year.

Piper's Creek has a small delta heavily influenced by wave action. The stream mouth is usually diverted south by a spit, although occasionally the stream breaks out and heads straight down the beach. This beach is sheltered from the more common southerly storms by Meadow Point to the south, but has a substantial fetch from the north and this afternoon a strong, cold wind showed why the stream hooks to the south.

Piper's Creek may once have had an estuary, too, but the railroad has largely separated the wetland on the landward side of the tracks from the stream mouth on the Puget Sound side (the stream emerges through four culverts - two big, two small).

I wonder what this place looked like before the railroad was built? Maybe a more substantial spit and a small estuary in the lower part of the valley. And of course, sand and gravel beaches extending north and south in both directions instead of disappearing under 100 years of transcontinental double-track.

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