Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Travis Spit

It's a long, four mile walk on a coarse gravel and cobble beach from Thompson Spit to Travis Spit at the northwestern tip of the Miller Peninsula. The spit extends westward about a mile across the mouth of Sequim Bay - most of the way across, at least.  


While Travis itself is a fairly simple landform - a classic bay mouth spit - it's part of a complex of barrier beaches that make the story much more interesting. Together Travis and Gibson form paired spits, converging on the mouth of the bay. Gibson is also fairly large, extending south from Port Williams across Washington Harbor, and sheltering a large salt marsh. There's another smaller spit that extends north from the south shore of Washington Harbor. And Paradise Cove Spit is a north-directed spit that has formed just south of the base of Travis Spit on the eastern shore of Sequim Bay. Finally, if you look carefully, you'll see a small secondary spit on the southern side of the distal portion of Travis, with it's own narrow log-choked lagoon. You really need the aerial view and the map for this.

250 meters across the Sequim Bay channel is the site of the old Bugge Cannery (clams), which has been Battelle's Marine Science Laboratory for the last few decades. From the signs, I gather that Battelle may own much of high ground on Travis Spit. The central portion of Travis is narrow, but not so narrow as to show any obvious signs of overwash.

From the tip of Travis, it was a very long walk back to the State Park trail, a not so long walk up the trail to my bike, and then a refreshing ride back to my car. With a quick stop at the Discovery Bay store for chips, I made the 5:30 Kingston Ferry.

For those interested in visiting the Miller Peninsula or Travis Spit, a couple of thoughts. Miller Peninsula State Park is undeveloped, except for a new parking lot off of the Diamond Point Road and a network of trails largely maintained and signed by volunteers. Thompson Spit is best visited by hiking or biking in from the State Park parking lot. Travis would be best visited by parking at Panorama Vista County Park, which is reached off of the East Sequim Bay Road. 

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Thompson Spit

The Miller Peninsula, on the north side of the Olympic Peninsula, lies between Discovery Bay on the east and Sequim Bay on the west. Diamond Point is the cuspate foreland that marks the northeast corner and the entrance to Discovery Bay. Travis Spit extends from the northwest corner across the mouth of Sequim Bay. In between is about 5 miles of gravel and cobble beach, backed by steep bluffs.


The one exception to this long stretch of bluffs is Thompson Spit, located near the eastern end. The spit is a looped barrier - basically a spit that extends out from the coast and then reconnects farther down the shore (in this case, west to east, which is consistent with what we expect of longshore transport here). They're rarely symmetric and this one is no exception. Their updrift ends are often tangent to the adjacent bluff - as if the beach reached a sharp bend in the coastline but couldn't turn fast enough. The downdrift ends tend to merge back to the coastline asymptotically. If there is a tidal inlet, it's usually near this downdrift end (that's not the case at here, which just suggests a more complex geologic or historic story that I don't know).

The berm on the western end is low and narrow and there was evidence of overwash. The lagoon was draining through a shallow inlet and the beach in front of the inlet was marked by several organic ledges (the upper looked more like sawdust - perhaps evidence of some human history?) - which is typical where a barrier beach has migrated landward, exposing old marsh and lagoon sediments. The central point of the spit is marked by a large mound that appears to be fill - was there an old cabin or small mill here once?

This may have been referred to as Deadman's Spit at one point - the dead man being a guy named Thompson in the 1860s. But that may be reading too much into a local history I found online (Diamond Point history).

I'd like to come back and explore more sometime - lots of unanswered questions. But only the western portion of the spit is in the State Park and I'm not sure how welcoming the owners of the eastern half are likely to be.

Looped barriers are common on Puget Sound - here are a few we've visited before:
Perego's Lagoon: December 2015
Cama Beach: April 2017 (and many previous)
Kayak Point: January 2009