Thursday, November 12, 2009

West Point

West Point, the western tip of Discovery Park, is arguably Seattle's finest beach (there are others, but each has a very different character). Its north and south beaches converge to form a cuspate foreland that points west from Seattle toward the Olympics. There used to be a tidal lagoon, with an inlet on the north side of the point, where the big treatment plant now sits.

Every beach has a story, or two, but this one has many. Native American history, earthquakes and landslides, tsunamis and subsidence, and the punctuated evolution of a coastal landform. The military showed up and created Fort Lawton, then Seattle showed up with the treatment plant. In 1980, a large sewage lagoon on the south beach was removed along with its enclosing riprap and the beach was nourished with a few tens of thousands of yards of sand and gravel and planted with lots of dune grass. Today, walking the south beach, you might never know any of this (if you ignore the hum in the background of Seattle's waste stream being digested).

I rode my bike down from the park on top (you need a permit to park a car down here) and walked south as far as I could go with today's tide, since the east end of the beach is marked by a large promontory of Pleistocene sediments that have managed somehow to resist the waves and stand like a prow to mid-tide. This is highly unusual on the Sound - suggesting an incredibly durable lithology and/or a more complicated story (which is usually the case, isn't it?)

This place deserves a return trip at a lower tide and with more hours left in the day.

By the way, the instrument tower at the point is a good place to check for wind conditions on the Sound:
Station WPOW1 : West Point

As of this little addendum on Monday evening (11-16-09), air pressure is dropping with another storm coming in -- high winds anticipated

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