Friday, January 20, 2006

Glacial Erratics

Erratics. Wanderers. The Latin term now used for these lone glacial boulders was coined in Europe over a thousand years ago. I suppose about that same time these boulders arrived on the beach in avalanches of mud and broken trees. The mud and trees are long gone, but the boulders remain. Some of these may have originated as true erratics, sitting atop otherwise featureless surfaces of glacial drift until the coastline arrived. Others were actually buried within the till, gradually unearthed over several decades as the material around them eroded away. Either way, these large chunks of British Columbia are now permanent features of our modern beaches. A few of the best examples are Lone Rock near Seabeck, White Rock south of Port Ludlow, and Four-Mile Rock below Magnolia. These smaller ones are at Teronda (Whidbey), Point No Point (Kitsap), and Fox Island (Pierce).

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Carkeek Park

This afternoon after work I headed for Carkeek instead of going straight home. It was raining, as it has been for 23 days, and I had hopes of actually watching a slug of dirt and trees come down the bank. It wasn't raining too hard, though, and I settled for a walk down the tracks to last Friday's landslide just south of MilePost 10. No trains today, because last night there were more slides farther north.

There were several separate slides, all pretty small but still oozing mud. What came over the wall and the trip wires must have been small trees and a few tens of cubic yards of mud and wet sand. Most had been cleared from the tracks and either carted away or placed on the beach. The waves have had several days to rework whatever material made it over the seawall.

I wonder what this stretch of shoreline would have looked like in 1890, before the Seattle and Montana (later the Great Northern) was built. It might have been more like the reach north of Kingston, between Apple Cove Point and Eglon. Similar exposure, similar geology. Lots of slides and lots of sand and large wood on the beach.