Monday, September 14, 2009

Wollochet Bay

A quiet little backwater estuary filling a drowned stream valley. Spits, hundreds of acres of salt marsh, and thick forest down to the water's edge. Too bad it ended up on the Gig Harbor Peninsula, where no good shoreline is left unpunished.
There's an inkling of what it once was at the newly acquired Wollochet Bay Estuary Park at the mouth of Artondale Creek.

The aerial was shot from a commercial airplane a few years back. The other shots were taken very late Monday afternoon, while I waited for evening rush hour traffic in Tacoma to subside.


I guess there was a certain logic, or at least practicality, to building roads and railroads along the back of the beach. Works okay for the road - as long as you're willing to commit a budget to fixing the seawall, removing logs from the roadway, and cleaning up the mud when the hill comes down. Doesn't work so well for the beach - although technically it's probably still there - the berm and the drift logs 6 feet directly below the westbound lanes of the road.

Cromwell Drive has good company - Dockton Road, Harbor Avenue, Redondo Beach Drive, parts of State Route 106 along the south side of Hood Canal. And of course, the railroad.

Fox Island

The old dock at the southeast end of the island wasn't in very good shape when the state picked it up 20 years ago - but now it's a nice little piece of public shore on an island with very little of it. The dock is now a fishing pier. There wasn't much beach given the high tide - it disappears under the trees to the south - and under a private bulkhead to the north.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rosario Beach

Rosario is a pocket beach, trapped in a small cove just north of Rosario Head. It's a steep, gravel beach with a series of high storm berms, topped with big logs, separating the ocean from a small back barrier wetland. The southern part of the beach is in Deception Pass State Park, while the northern part is private.

The beach has a "classic" log spiral form (I suspect any curved beach can be made to fit a log spiral if one tweaks the coefficients correctly, but the point is that the curvature of the beach is tightly wound at the south end, but then relaxes to the north). This results from the southwesterly waves wrapping (refracting and diffracting) around Rosario Head. Click on the title of this post to see the aerial image in Google Maps.

Weaverling Spit

This little point in southern Fidalgo Bay is a little hard to decipher, but I suspect it is basically a rocky island separated from the rest of Fidalgo Island by a tombolo. The tombolo, which probably once harbored tidal wetlands and a native community, is now covered in fill and RVs and an old railroad grade (which is now a bike trail). There are small pocket beaches on the north side (not really pockets, since drift can get past at low tide) of the rocky point and a small spit at the eastern end (aerial photo - courtesy Google).

The railroad used Weaverling to launch it's trestle across the bay and the resulting causeway has altered the southern shore of the point. The causeway and trestle has probably had several effects. It must have altered tidal circulation at the south end of the bay and may have reduced the exposure of the southern end of the bay from the rare northerly storms. It protects the little spit at the tip of the point from southerly wave action - there was never much due to the limited fetch, but now there's none. This might be expected to lead to small shifts in the configuration of the feature over many decades - but since change would be driven by those rare northerlies, it might take many decades for much change to occur.
The causeway has also created a long skinny, rock-lined lagoon on the south side of the point.