Thursday, January 02, 2020

Golden Gardens

January 1st, 2020. New Year's Day. The sun came out. I was already in Ballard and somewhat impulsively decided to go to the beach. I wasn't the only one with that idea. 

Golden Gardens Park is located on Meadow Point, just north of the big Shilshole Bay Marina. It's got a long history, some of which I've mentioned in previous posts, but in the end, it is one of Seattle's nicest beaches and a great example of a fairly unconstrained urban beach. So many urban beaches in other cities are pocket beaches stuck between piers or heavily nourished beaches on intensely developed waterfronts. It's not that Golden Gardens has lost it's connectivity with adjacent beaches (it has) or that it hasn't been modified or nourished (it has, but not much), but it still looks and feels like a relatively natural beach. As long as you sort of ignore the marina, the railroad, and the crowds!


Previous Posts: Gravel Beach: Golden Gardens

It was a beautiful day. Kids were playing in the water (barefoot and sometimes wearing down jackets). Families had gathered to burn their Christmas Trees. A few people were playing volleyball. The playground was full. So was the parking lot.

English Bay

Some pictures of First Beach on English Bay in Vancouver from a gray day a couple of weeks ago. I've posted many times from here before (Gravel Beach: English Bay) and don't have anything much to add this time.

But it's a favorite spot, no matter what the weather, and it seemed a nice way to close out 2019.


K'uuna Llnagaay

I generally would not post a beach that I hadn't actually visited, but I really wanted to work this one in somehow. Everything I know about this place I inferred from the exhibit at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria or from the imagery on Google Maps. The beach caught my eye in part because of the quality of the diorama, in part because the site is located on a small tombolo in a place that I've not yet visited (Haida Gwaii - the Queen Charlotte Islands), and in part because it just nicely illustrates how humans historically may have interacted with the beach.


The landform itself at K'uuna Llnagaay (also called Skedans) appears to be a double tombolo. These features tend to be pretty stable over time. I like the way the diorama captures the back of the beach without much evidence of either long-term erosion or accretion. The village is built on the backshore, which would have been high and dry in all but the most extreme conditions (large high tide storms or tsunamis). There's a small stream at the west end of the beach that would provide freshwater. Often these are associated with small back-barrier wetlands, but if so, this isn't obvious in either the aerials or the diorama.

If the model is accurate (apparently it was based on old photographs), it looks like the village is located a  discrete back from the edge of the beach. Perhaps the beach had built out since the buildings were constructed, but I like to think that this reflects a deliberate decision to reduce the potential of storm damage (and to provide more usable community space on the waterside of the village).


Sidney is located a little north of Victoria on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula. The waterfront looks like it's been filled and pushed out historically, leaving little evidence of the original shoreline (a reminder to do some further sleuthing). Much is now marked by seawalls and a rock revetment, but as often happens in these cases, this an opportunity for this small beach at the end of Beacon Avenue.


The beach is referred to locally as Glass Beach, which like 'glass' beaches elsewhere, reflects on its human history and the presence of ground-up colored glass (usually old bottles) in the sand.

Ediz Hook

Ediz Hook is the long spit that extends east into the Strait of Juan de Fuca to create Port Angeles Harbor. It's always a neat contrast to Dungeness Spit, a little farther east. I've posted from here before (October 2009, and perhaps other times as well), but thought that this view from the Victoria-bound MV Coho a few weeks ago offered a neat perspective on the distal tip of the spit.


The outer side of the spit has been heavily armored over the decades and this leads to some interesting messiness as the riprap runs out at the east end of the airstrip.

I'm trying to get back on schedule going into 2020, so the next few posts may be pretty brief (which is probably a good thing anyway).

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Deception Pass

This beach on the northwest side of Whidbey Island, just outside of Deception Pass, isn't quite on the open ocean, but it still made a good Pacific Coast terminus to my trek across North America. The adventure didn't include too many beaches, but there were some, and I've tried to capture those in the previous posts.

West Beach, because it faces the exposed Strait of Juan de Fuca, displays more of the characteristics of higher energy beaches - including the development of offshore bars - than most beaches on the Salish Sea. It's also a fairly robust barrier, with beach ridges and dunes and a back barrier lagoon (Cranberry Lake: March 2007).

The smaller beaches below the bridge that face on Deception Pass itself are very different and a little hard to figure out (Deception Pass: May 2016). They look much more like pocket beaches, although the orientation is tough to characterize and I doubt they're closed to sediment transport - either in or out.

Presumably, my bike will be less of a feature in my subsequent posts. It was sort of hard to avoid in this recent batch since it was a critical part of my visits. Anyone who's interested in more of the backstory to the bike trip can check: Biketrip2019: Backroads and Bikepaths.

Yellowstone Lake

The beaches on Yellowstone Lake have always fascinated me. They are built of mixed sand and gravel and come in a combination of eroding bluffs and assorted barrier beaches. I'm convinced (without much serious investigation) that they may be impacted by medium-term changes in not only absolute lake level but in relative lake level (Yellowstone, particularly here at the north end of the lake, rises and falls with the underlying magma pool).


Here's a post from more than a decade ago: Yellowstone Lake: July 2007.

Photos here are from late September 2019.

South Chicago

There are beaches up and down Chicago's long shoreline - including some great lakefront parks south of the city, such as at 63rd Street and at Rainbow Beach. Where there isn't beach, there is seawall (though it comes in a variety of forms). But whether beach or seawall, it's almost all public and easily accessible.


I'm convinced the best way to explore Chicago's beaches is by bicycle along the Lakefront Trail. I spent a few hours going in and out of the city on two different days in early September. On another trip I'll have to explore more of the beaches north of downtown up towards Evanston.

Oak Street Beach

Oak Street Beach, like all of Chicago's beaches, was created from scratch in one of many appropriately-oriented (to north wind and waves) bends along the city's vast linear lake fill. Historically, this was a low shoreline consisting of southward-directed spits on the north side of the mouth of the Chicago River. 

Water levels have been high this year and the lake was lapping onto the heavily-used lake shore trail. It would probably be a lot more exciting during a big storm.  This is an interesting contrast to my last post from here, back in July 2010, when the lake was much lower.

This visit was in early September, almost four months ago.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Indiana Dunes

Wind, and therefore waves, blowing down Lake Michigan (on both sides), results in southward sediment transport and the accumulation of sand towards the south end of the lake. Here on the southeastern corner, the sand has built a robust series of dunes (many of them now well back from the advancing shoreline and largely transformed into forested ridges separated by linear wetlands).

These photos don't show it, but I could see the Chicago skyline across the lake (still a long ways away). What you do see in these photos are the stacks of steel mills and generating plants in the middle distance. It's nice that the Indiana Dunes (a State Park) preserve some natural shoreline on a coast that has suffered historically from intense industrial development (and much now in disrepair).


Ironically, today's wind was blowing strongly from the south and this leeward shore was welcome relief. I actually modified my route the last couple of days specifically to avoid the strong winds blowing north along Michigan's shoreline. By tomorrow (September 4th), unfortunately, they will be from the north again as I turn the corner and ride into Chicago.