Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Hidden Beach

Hidden Beach is hard to find. It's tucked in at the base of a high bluff along Saratoga Passage, at the bottom of a steep road that most folks on the main road don't even know exists. Even when you get to it, the beach is still sort of hard to find. It's buried beneath rocks and fill and old concrete and the occasional auto part. A row of piles out on the beach testifies to the original intentions, but this stretch at the north end was never developed, or if it was, little is left of it now. 


Years (decades) ago, I came down here and walked north to check out the wonderful high fluted till bluffs and some large glacial boulders just offshore. I don't think I've been back since, although I often look across at this shoreline from Cama Beach (on Camano Island), just across the water. 

The Hidden Beach community to the south is a great example of a type of development that is pretty common on Whidbey Island (elsewhere, too). Or was - most of the initial earthwork occurred in the 1950s and 1960s - you could never fill on top of the shoreline like this today.

Here's what it looks like on Ecology's Coastal Atlas: Aerial Photos

I've heard different versions of how these places were built, but basically the developer built a seawall out on the beach and then filled behind the bulkhead, burying the beach and creating building lots where logs once floated and fish once swam. They added just enough fill to raise the building sites above (most of) the highest tides. The fill material typically came from the bluff itself. Sometimes they used equipment, sometimes they used hoses, and sometimes they used dynamite.

The result was small, isolated beach communities that were wonderful escapes in the summer but that were squeezed beneath landslides from above and storm waves from the Sound in the winter. And an access road that would become impassable just when folks most needed to get out.

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