Monday, August 25, 2014

The Dungeness Spit

Dungeness Spit map at trailhead, Sequim, WA.
The locals (on the Olympic Peninsula) call it "the Spit," but the real name is Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.  Established in 1915 by President Woodrow Wilson, it is 636 acres of a variety of tidelands, beach and upland forest, including one of the longest natural sand spits in the world.

Fortunately it is less than five miles from my home and is a grand spot for walks; long ones or short ones. Even on drizzly days, it is a delightful escape from the moderate traffic of the area.
Upland forest trail heading toward "the Spit."

Today the weather was perfect for a rather long trek, but I didn't tromp all the way out to the lighthouse. That is a 10-mile round trip and I don't think I've trained enough yet.

The walk starts in the forest, and pleasantly meanders gradually downhill until that last 1/8th mile when it is somewhat steep, but on a wide, smooth trail.

Then the trail opens up and suddenly you can see the upper end of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and across to the island of Vancouver, B.C.
The waves from the Strait of Juan de Fuca create the Spit,
and the bluffs nearby are gradually eroded.
On this gorgeous day, there were plenty of people sunning themselves and even a few were swimming in the water. One woman was walking the beach water line looking for stones in the shape of a heart. She said she collects them. This, in spite of the admonition on one of the signs that the taking of wood, stones or other items from the area is forbidden.
People do a lot of rearranging of the stones on the beach.

Judging from the number of stones in varying stages of being grinded away by the salt water action, I cannot think that there is a great risk of them disappearing because folks are collecting them.

Do you suppose there is someone who has catalogued them and is keeping track of where they all are? A fine government job!
Well, it looked like a heart for a bit...
it's the white one.

When I visited the Pacific coast, up at  Rialto  Beach, I noticed the stones there are being shaped much rounder. Here they are being washed flatter. Even so, I found myself walking and looking down and here is what I found:

A ship loaded with freight heads out to the Pacific Ocean.
Naturally I left it there. I imagined getting back to the Ranger kiosk and having them force me to empty my pockets and then suddenly a large crowd would gather and I would be further humiliated by getting caught... wondering now what the Federal Register lays out as the punishment for removing rocks. No wonder the indigenous peoples are in wonderment about all our rules.

All kinds of creatures, feathered, finny and furry, take advantage of this refuge.

During the spring the seals use the protected harbor beach at the end of the Spit for their pups. In the fall and the spring, the migrating birds take a break from their journey and other native birds are here all year.

This is the sea grass that is essential for nesting birds.
I didn't see one bird on the ground anywhere today. Perhaps they took a holiday. Of course there were seagulls.
The hotter-than-average summer has made the waters in the
Strait less than frigid. 
On my way back up the path I found myself passing a couple who were dragging their feet. Noting they were considerably younger than me, I asked them if they'd had a nice day, curious to learn why they seemed so tired. "We've just completed the walk out to the lighthouse and back," the guy told me. "It seemed shorter heading out than it was coming back," his female companion added.

The Olympic range is off in the distance. The eroding bluff
is to the left in the photo.

I feel so fortunate that I live in such a beautiful area. And that this portion of accessible loveliness is pretty close to my home.

When my son was out visiting we walked along the bluffs. There has been so much erosion, portions of the path I walked a year ago have disappeared and the Rangers have re-routed it.

I have no idea at what speed it will progress, or what will happen to the park itself if the bluffs simply disappear. At least the scientists can't blame the erosion on global warming. Or can they?
Waves on the shore; small now, but come back when the
fall winds whip them up and see them then.


  1. I'd love to visit there, it looks so beautiful.

    1. There are lots of things to do and see any time of year... go to City of Sequim or Olympic Peninsula tourism for a schedule of events...

  2. Sandy, I enjoy reading your blogs about Sequim and the peninsula. I grew up in the Sequim area, but left after graduating from high school and went into the Air Force. I've been on the spit many times, but have never made it out to the lighthouse. I too have multiple myeloma and was diagnosed last year at age 54.