Sunday, January 27, 2019

Ruby Beach

Sea stacks, lots of big logs, a gravel beach, and a small spit across the mouth of Cedar Creek. And a wonderful forested slope rising up behind the beach. Apparently, Ruby Beach gets its name from the presence of red minerals in the sand and gravel. This was a quick stop, so I didn't spend much time looking at the details. There's so much other stuff to get distracted by here!


Dan posted from here recently and provides a bit more substance, both historic and geologic: Reading the Washington Landscape.

Friday, January 25, 2019


I guess I posted from Kalaloch in 2014 (same trip as Lake Quinault in the previous post), but that's not a good reason not to do it again. Especially when the day was so nice. This was a quick stop - time for a few photos - and then on to Ruby Beach, Port Angeles, and Seattle.


Like most of the streams along this coast, the creek bottoms out in a small estuary before running out to the ocean through a low place in the beach. And running out to sea is difficult when the waves are trying to flood back in. And the path is littered with huge logs.

There's a lot to make these Olympic coast beaches exciting, but the logs are what really stand out. So much wood. So much of it so big!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Lake Quinault

A little beach on Lake Quinault, the product of a shoreline oriented to capture the westerly waves and just enough sediment to form a beach. The sediment may have been brought in or it may have been delivered by runoff in the swale above the beach - most likely both. I suspect active use and maintenance of the beach prevents the rain forest from retaking the shore, which it might if left on its own.


These photos were taken over a couple of days this past weekend - one much damper than the other. and here's the same beach from 5 years ago:
Lake Quinault: January 2014

The shoreline landscaper would suggest that instead of trying to protect that ragged edge of the lawn, they simple pull it back. The extra bit of back beach would be a better place to put a plastic Adirondack chair or a nice wooden bench than the sloping, uneven grass. And if the edge were a bit farther up the slope (just 8-10 feet), there would be no need for the rock. Instead, you could plant some low native shrubs along the little break in slope. Not a big deal, just seems easier than this persistent need to protect every last bit of lawn - of which there is already plenty. And historical photos in the lodge suggest this area above the beach used to be shrubs, not grass.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Bombay Beach

Bombay Beach isn't really much of a beach anymore. Or a beach community. But for someone who collects beaches, it was well worth a couple of hours exploring before heading up to Joshua Tree.


In the first half of the 20th century, the Salton Sea was a pretty popular spot. Speed boat racers and water skiers flocked to its shores. Celebrities showed up. Developers saw opportunities. In the 1950s, several waterfront communities were thriving. I guess it offered all the benefits of Palm Springs, but it also had beaches, a big lake, and place for your boat.

There's a nice history at:
San Diego Union-Tribune (2015)

I've also posted more photos on the Tumblr blogs listed on the top right of this page.

But the water that flows into the lake was salty and toxic (besides a lot of desert, the watershed consists primarily of abundantly irrigated and chemically treated farmland) and the water started smelling and the fish and the birds started dying. To make matters worse, lake levels varied and some communities, like this one, were threatened by flooding so dikes had to be built. Living here just stopped making much sense -- although some people still do.

The 20th-century archeology of the Salton Sea's shoreline has become a bit of a draw in itself - it's the subject of documentaries, post-apocalyptic film shoots, and "disaster tourism."

This is a pretty bleak beach on which to end 2018!

2019 will see some big changes in my life, but I don't expect the beach collecting to stop.

Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is a big, salty lake and occupies a broad low spot in the bottom of the Imperial Valley. The lake surface is currently around 237' below sea level and the bottom of the lake is almost as deep as Badwater Basin in Death Valley. Like Death Valley and the Great Salt Lake and the Humboldt Sink, this is an internal drainage - water flows in but does not flow out. It just evaporates very slowly, leaving mud and salt behind.

The current lake was a bit of an accident, since it formed in 1905 when an irrigation canal went wrong and allowed the Colorado River to flow in. On the other hand, the Colorado had apparently been doing this on its own every few hundred years long before that (perhaps aided by movement during large earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault, which runs along the east side of the valley), so the lake itself has plenty of precedent.


Much of the shoreline is salt and mud, but there are also small shells and lots of fish parts. Which form a sufficiently granular substrate that waves can turn them into something interesting. Here, at the jettied mouth of this small harbor/estuary(?) waves have formed a nice little beach with diverging spits. There were multiple scarps and beach berms, reflecting slightly different water levels and slightly different wave regimes, along with washover fans where larger waves had carried shells over into the lagoon.

In putting together this post, I discovered another blog - Salton Sea Walk - which provided a lot more background on the lake's beaches. It confirmed my suspicion that the shells are probably small, thin-shelled barnacles, but apparently, they are far more abundant on other parts of the lake and a major beach-forming material. Maybe next trip...

Farther up the "beach" there were some faint beach ridges, recording higher levels of the gradually retreating lake (more rapidly in recent dry years).

Strand Beach

Strand Beach (Strands Beach, in some descrriptions) is located just north of Dana Point. It was largely undeveloped until the early 2000s, when a large high-end subdivision began to be built. There's a Ritz Carlton on the high bluff to the north and a cluster of homes perched high above the beach on the south end.  Much of the headland of Dana Point itself is maintained as a Preserve.


I suppose the beach owes some of its character to Dana Point itself, which influences both the shape of this coastline and the southward movement of sediment. The back of the beach is largely buried under the riprap revetment, which sort of limits the use of this beach to lower tides.

As with many other developments in California, there has been a long battle over public access on this site. A trail has been built along the top of the revetment (which allows people to walk where there was once a beach) and there are several public pathways that provide access from the public park at the top of the bluff.

Aliso Beach

Aliso Beach, like Main Beach to the north, is a little longer and wider than most other beaches along this shoreline. It benefits from having formed in the vicinity of a stream mouth where the bluffs are set back farther and there's more sand to build the beach.


There was a significant scarp running the length of the upper beach. These cuts form when wave action lowers the beach profile - pulling the sand offshore. They are typically associated with big storms, but are often most pronounced when either nature, or humans, have created a particularly high back beach. I don't know much about the recent history here, but will assume this reflects natural processes -- although I suppose the beach could have been nourished. The lower beach also had large, distinct cusps, with a coarse gravelly lag in the hollows.

I guess there are plans to restore the estuary at the mouth of Aliso Creek. I suppose there aren't many places to do this along here - the topography, the lack of significant streams, and the dense development all conspire against the formation and maintenance of estuaries.