Saturday, November 19, 2011

Staying Local, in Eight Stops

Continuing the pursuit of distractions. GF came over from Seattle on November 12, (now a week ago). The weather was not ideal— and anyway he wanted to see what could be seen of the dam removals— so we stayed hereabouts, in the rainshadow. I contrived never to set wheel on US 101. US 101 being almost all he knew of this area, it was every-mile-new for him.

We took a look at the airport terminal, because he was charmed by how close the airport is to my house. ('If it were me I'd walk there wheeling my suitcase at least once, just because,' he said.) Then we went to the overlook for the Elwha Dam. No work seemed to be happening, well it was a Saturday and we are in the 'fish window' where no work can go on which might add to the silt settling over the redds, the salmon nests, in the first five miles of the river. I waved my arms around a lot explaining about the temporary channel where the river now flows, and the plan to return the river ultimately to the old channel on the other side. The dam cams, by the way, don't show much action because of the fish window, but yaay the slide shows are now offered in both java and html5 so you can watch 'em on an iPad, w00t! The upper dam, the Glines Canyon Dam, being out of reach until the Whiskey Bend Road reopens, we moved on.

Elwha Dam, November 12, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

Since we were already on WA 112, the next stop was westward along the highway, to Salt Creek County Park. First we went to the parking area down by Crescent Beach at the east side of Salt Creek where the land belongs to the County Park. It was high tide, the swell off the Strait was rolling right up the creek almost to our feet, and the parking area was full of surfers drinking coffee from thermoses. Why are you surfing here, we asked. Because the swell on the outer coast is too dangerous. But I was at Rialto yesterday and the swell was very mild, I said. It built during the night from the big storm off Alaska, said the surfer. For some reason it pleased me greatly to rub shoulders with this other school of ocean-watching, people who are tracking the build of the swell in the dark of night, turn up for high tide along the Strait...

Bad pic of waves rolling right up the creek and into the marsh at our feet, Salt Creek County Park, November 12, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

Then on to the picnic area at the back of the campground in the Park itself, which overlooks Tongue Point. Except Tongue Point was almost completely under the waves. We went to the bottom of the stairs. Waves were splashing up to them. There were harlequin ducks, and black oystercatchers, bufflehead. Not a whole lot else in the way of seabirds, or anyway the water too wild to see them. Before leaving the park we took the trail along the bluff edge and up to the bunker (this being in fact an old WWII coastal defense installation). Along the trail, a perfectly spectacular mystery fungus growing from a stump.

Tongue Point under the waves (Click for larger image.)
Little island at Salt Creek, surrounded by waves (Click for larger image.)
Mystery fungus. Identifications cheerfully accepted. (Click for larger image.)

(Tongue Point not under the waves, June 2009). (Little island not surrounded by waves, February, 2011.)

OK then, back on the Elwha River exploration track. We went to the cobble beach at the river mouth. Surfers, but the tide was falling and the breakers not too impressive. We walked on the pedestrian-and-bike deck of the new high bridge, where I got to wave my arms around again pointing to the water plant and detailing all the industrial infrastructure investment which had to be in place before the first bite was taken out of either dam. We went down to the end of Lower Elwha Road on the rez and looked at the river from just inside the mouth.

Cobble Beach at the mouth of the Elwha River (Click for larger image.)
Looking toward the Strait and the river mouth from the end of Lower Elwha Road (Click for larger image.)

The light was fading. We hustled on out to Ediz Hook, saw ducks, watched the pilot boat go out to meet a ship (whose name I have lost), rendezvous, return to its berth. The weather was breaking up. Blue patches and peekaboo mountains.

... (Click for larger image.)

Then GF headed back to Seattle in the dark.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gee, Miriam, you're such a good tour guide, it makes me want to visit.