Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sad Story in Six Tweets

Explaining... (Click for larger image.)

So I surely won't see the sandhill cranes at Ridgefield NWR this year. They will likely have moved on south by next weekend, if they are even still there now.

On the other hand, in some decades of road-tripping I have never gotten stuck on a dirt road, nor into any kind of road trouble. This kind of record requires an excess of caution. I haz it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ocean Acidification Video

There is an excellent short video from Oregon Public Broadcasting on Ocean Acidification, filmed in part on Tatoosh Island on the Makah Reservation. Tatoosh is just offshore northwest of the northwesternmost corner of the continental US, or from the point of view of my Canadian friends, directly across the Strait from Port Renfrew.

Thanks to Olympic Peninsula Environmental News for pointing this out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just For The Record

Hurricane Ridge WebCam (Click for larger image.)

Winter has arrived on Hurricane Ridge.

Elevation 5242'.

Monday, October 25, 2010

22 Foot Swell: With Thunder, Ghost Trees, and Joyful Watchers

It was like this. From the parking lot you could see the watchers arrayed on the drift along the top of the berm. Climbed into rain gear and hurried up the path; before I got the first sight of the surf, a wave crashed up across the top and foam ran down the backslope. There were pelicans having a grand old time when I first got there (not later). There were thunder squalls, lightning, mini-sleet-storms. There were older-couple watchers with umbrellas. And the waves came in, and in, and in.

According to the High Surf Warnings, the swell is still building this morning. Going to maybe 35 feet. Yesterday it would have been in the 19-23 foot range. And building, yes. It went on delivering those 'highest one third' sets, splashing up and over the berm even a couple of hours past the high tide.

We must have all been pretty careful, nobody was knocked over, or washed away. Ok, had there been a rogue wave, it might have caused a disaster, but that could happen sort of any time you're on the beach. People were careful, choosing their spots, choosing their retreat paths, backing up in good time, avoiding the low spots along the berm where now and then the waves washed right over. And the waves came in, and in, and in.

It was warm. And the waves came in, and in, and in.

Rialto Beach (Click for larger image.)

Preliminary Data, La Push Station, October 24, 2010 (Click for larger image.)
How salt comes to be killing the front row of trees... (Click for larger image.)

Trees and shrubs along the highway, I might mention, were in gorgeous color against the grey sky; now darker, now brighter. I'm at the tribe today. Or I'd be back out there, waiting for the high tide at 1:53 PM with the 35-foot swell on top of it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Here is the big swell, which cancelled tomorrow's beach survey and has triggered the High Surf Warning: "...GIANT WAVES ALONG THE COAST WILL CAUSE COASTAL FLOODING LATER THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH MONDAY NIGHT..."

From NOAA's Ocean Prediction Center (Click for larger image.)

Heading west. No beach walking does not mean no looking. High tide at 1:20. Better get going.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Full Arc and Double All the Way

There is a plan, made long ago, for JL and I to do the October bird survey at Hobuck Beach on Monday despite barely cooperative tides. It seems likely that the weather will not allow it.

Makah Nation and Waatch River. (So cool. Note Vancouver Island on the other side of the Strait) (Click for larger image.)Photo: Samuel M Beebe/Ecotrust, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

The Special Weather Statement says: "..A powerful storm will strike western Washington late this weekend... A potent storm will slam into the region Saturday night and Sunday... resulting in locally heavy rain and strong winds...especially on the coast. Another blast of strong winds...impacting a larger part of the possible on Monday. This storm will also generate large swells of about 25 to 30 feet Sunday afternoon...which is expected to last through Monday. This could lead to the potential for coastal flooding in areas adjacent to the Pacific such as Aberdeen."

Um, Hobuck is wide, yes, but there wouldn't be a whole lot of point in pretending to survey an under-the-waves beach from up in the grass behind the strand; and besides, the road to Neah Bay breaks more or less every year. OCNMS has a trailer out there, so we'd have a place to stay if we got stuck, but how many days might it take before we could come home??

Thursday evening, there was the most complete rainbow I've ever seen. It was almost a complete arc and double all the way, and all the colors were there. Red to ultraviolet, every bit. (The camera wasn't up for it.)

Full Arc and Double All the Way and Every Color (Click for larger image.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

There Are Things To Tell

Bob Boardman's death has left me speechless here. How shall I be rollicking around paradise— the ocean the mountain the forest oh, Oh Wonderful To Have The Park As Our Back Yard Oh—

—when such a good man died.

There are stories with subsequent information, it's going to be in the news for a long time; but this one has the beautiful photo.

Monday, October 18, 2010

First Frost

Sunday morning there was frost. Today it's cloudy and lots warmer.

October 17 (Click for larger image.)
October 17 (Click for larger image.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Weekend Lingers...

AW put her marmot movie up on youtube. Our marmot on Sunday right by the road. Don't read another word until you have watched it. Really. Go now.

On Wednesday after work I went back up the mountain to try to figure out the flaming bushes we took pictures of on Sunday. Bounced on out the Obstruction Point Road to just before the halfway point, to the very patch we took the pictures of. It had to be one of the huckleberries

Original picture, huckleberry patch, October 10, 2010 (Click for larger image.)

most likely blue leaf (Vaccinium deliciosum) because that is the one which grows in big patches that turn red in the fall, except every single book says that Vaccinium deliciosum is at most 12" tall and a lot of the ones along the road were way taller than that. Tim McNulty says it is so, and a ranger identified it for PG & me a couple of Octobers ago— BUT from a distance. I've never looked up close at the red patches painting the mountainsides and thought, 'This is what grows in a red patch, this is the stuff.'

In the books it is shown with very fine teeth around the leaves. You think they are smooth until you look closely. Check. Turned bright red. Check. A few very partial dried up huckleberry-ish berries left on them. Check. Ma-a-a-ybe it's a different huckleberry, but it's gotta be almost right. Until corrected, Vaccinium deliciosum.

Huckleberry patch close-up, October 14, 2010 (Click for larger image.)

As to Monday, we have done much research about pelicans, put in interlibrary loan requests for articles about their range and behavior, etc etc., and will report as information arrives. This morning we discovered that Sam Beebe's Ecotrust aerial photos of the Coast are available for use. Oh my. Thank you Mr. Beebe, thank you Creative Commons.

La Push & First Beach. Rialto is just off to the left. Mount Olympus on the horizon (!) (Click for larger image.)
Photo: Samuel M Beebe/Ecotrust, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Such a Day

Glorious morning at home and at work.

Fall morning over H Street (Click for larger image.)

I don't usually mix realms, but have borrowed back these photos I just posted on the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Library's blog. (There are also some interior views there.)

Corner on the Rez (Click for larger image.)
Fields at sea level. Note the Strait of Juan de Fuca... (Click for larger image.)
Tribal Center (Click for larger image.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

By The Time We Got To The Ocean

On Monday we went west. AW had not been along the Lake before and it was showing off, reflections in the water and really quite big trees silhouetted in the slanty morning sunlight. We detoured up the Sol Duc to look for leaping coho salmon. Not fish number one, why am I not surprised. We asked a fellow who was also waiting for salmon if he thought the run was over. No, he said, it's only October 11 and he thought there must be more still heading upstream towards the Cascade.

It remained sunny inland. By the time we got to the ocean, overcast and slight rain. We donned our raingear, went out onto the beach. AW took a lot of pictures of the waves swashing in, she was trying to catch the moment when the leading edge of the foam makes the little pebbles jump. (All the photographs in this post are AW's.)

Rialto Beach, incoming tide, October 11, 2010 (Click for larger image.)

Ghost trees, Rialto Beach (Click for larger image.)
Looking for a place to have lunch, Rialto Beach (Click for larger image.)

After a while we went back to the car, stopped by the Quileute River overlook for a few minutes (cormorants),

Quileute River, October 11, 2010 (Click for larger image.)

then around to the south shore of the river mouth at La Push. Out on the point (where in season you can watch for migrating grey whales), pelicans. Coffee in the restaurant on the harbor. Pelicans. Lots of pelicans. Tribal fisherman in tiny boats netting king salmon; a sea lion working the same run; gulls, scoters, pelicans. The rain started and stopped and started again.

Pelicans in pouring rain at La Push harbor. (Click for larger image.)
Pelicans from the point overlooking First Beach (Click for larger image.)
First Beach. In April or May, maybe whales. Not now. (Click for larger image.)

The day ended early: we got AW back to the ferry terminal in Port Angeles in plenty of time for her return crossing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Foray into Shangri-La

A. came over on the noon ferry. The weather had turned glorious on the crossing, and we darted straight up the mountain.

Destination, Obstruction Point. From Victoria, the Olympics sometimes loom as massive and delectable as Himalayas on the horizon; and I'd promised her this magical foray towards Shangri-La.

... (Click for larger image.)

"Here's where the marmots were," I said as we rolled along, and whoah, there they were.

The marmots' context (Click for larger image.)
Two marmots. Energetic and not too fat. Young ones? (Click for larger image.)

The road's been open since the middle of July, and will close as soon as it snows. We walked a little distance along the Lillian Ridge trail, windy, cold, beautiful. It got darker, clouds were moving in, maybe. Time to go? Goodbye for eight or ten months, paradise.

Autumn on Lillian Ridge (Click for larger image.)
This one is A's photo... (Click for larger image.)

Except I may have to go back up after work one day this week to examine the amazing flaming bushes by the road in the woods. What on earth are they, and why did I not look more closely after I decided, no, I may not pick a leaf....

Luckily there are some quite close to the beginning of the road... (Click for larger image.)

Monday, October 04, 2010

Pelicans Being Emitted By the Sky

There was rain in town, drifting clouds caught in the trees around Lake Crescent. But at the ocean, a bubble of sunshine. Sunlight and pelicans. Neap tides: it went to low and began coming back, without a whole lot of visual difference.

Rialto Beach, October 3, 2010. Cake Rock in first image, Dahdayla below. (Click for larger image.)

All afternoon, any time I cared to put the book down, there were little specks out there. Point the binoculars at them. Oh yes, those are pelicans. More; those are pelicans too. One or two or a line of 14. Pelicans pelicans pelicans. It became a game. No pelicans for a moment? Oh yes there they suddenly are, being emitted by the sky somewhere to the north or south of Cake Rock, like matter being quietly created in Fred Hoyle's steady-state universe.

Pelicans Flying In Across Rialto Jetty, October 3, 2010 (Click for larger image.)

Friday Afternoon

Friday afternoon. For the first hour or so, no salmon were moving. Some watchers could see salmon in the pool below the cascade. Around 4 o'clock, they started to jump. There's not so much water, and there were not so many fish; not so much water, little enough water noise that you could plainly hear the flitter-flitter-flitter as one fish landed against the rock to the right of the main water flow and attempted to swim up it. And hear all the watchers call out with each fish's move: Whoah. There's one. Whoo. Go go go. Whoah. Lending lift to the fishes with our engagement.

Low Flow at Salmon Cascades, October 1, 2010. (Click for larger image.)

At this time of year in the forest, the sunlight is late-afternoon lavish all day long.

The forest at the Cascade, October 1. (Click for larger image.)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Salmon Be Home Soon

In yesterday's perfect weather, there was an overflight of the Elwha River, the perfect occasion for a splendid group of aerial photos showing the new channel work at the back of Lake Mills, the lakes, the dams, the new fish hatchery, the fish weir, and the mouth of the river... Salmon be home soon!

Well, sort of soon. A news story last week said the literal removal of the dam structures would begin in September 2011, and be complete by March 2014. And the 100 years of sediment behind the dams will... well. The sediment will do what it does, the fish will do what they do, the nearshore, the vegetation... And we probably won't live long enough to see it work itself out to whatever stability will eventually be.