Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chambers Creek

I call this Chambers Creek with some reservations.  Chambers Creek itself actually empties into the Sound a little ways south of here, but the name of this new Pierce County park in University Place is Chambers Creek Properties.  The park, and the adjacent Chambers Bay golf course, are built in the space left behind after a hundred years of mining gravel along the steep bluffs of Puget Sound (Pioneer: October 2010).

The golf course is a strange landscape of dune-like hills and will be the site of the 2015 U.S. Open.  The park is a strange landscape of rolling meadow, muddy dog park, and old gravel mine archaeology.   A sweeping pedestrian bridge provides access over the busy railroad to the beach, where the gravel used to be loaded onto barges for the trip to concrete plants in Seattle and Tacoma.

Richmond Beach

Every two months or so, I head up to Edmonds for an evening geology talk.  If I'm lucky, I can get away a little early to beat the worst of the northbound traffic.  This month, I left Seattle at 4 and made it to Richmond Beach for an hour and a half of beach walking and a spectacular early March sunset, still leaving room for dinner at Dick's and a decaf latte at Starbuck's before showing up for the talk on North Cascades geology.

I walked south to Boeing Creek before turning around.  Richmond Beach is a great place to watch trains and they were going by one after another.

Elwha River

I hadn't been out to Port Angeles for a couple of years, but then made two trips within the last month.  The dams started coming out in fall of 2011, so this was my first chance to see the river since the long-awaited restoration began.  We were able to explore the beach at the river mouth, where all sorts of new sand is building out on the delta - sand that's been sitting in the reservoirs upstream for almost a century.

We also drove up and took a look at the lower dam - or at least the place where the lower dam used to be. The dam and powerhouse are all gone, the recontoured slopes have been planted, and the river is flowing through the narrow rocky canyon that used to buried by the dam.  Upstream of the lower dam, the Elwha is winding its way through the leftover reservoir.