Saturday, September 20, 2008


Ruby Beach, low tide

At the edge of the shore, they congregate, in small basins carved over time by washing waves, capturing the last laps of water as it's pulled from the rocks at low tide--the communities within the rhythm of the sea.
Held here in tide pools, covered by only inches of clear ocean water, until the surf returns and they are, once again, hidden from view.
Waiting for its reviving freshness, safe within rocky walls.

The rugged shoreline of the Olympic Peninsula, with its towering sea stacks and tumbling sea stones scattered across broad sand and pebble beaches is 73 miles of protected wilderness. In many cases, reached only by hiking a narrow trail weaving its way through miles of dense evergreen woods, the shores are rimmed by weathered silver beach logs, piled high, just beyond the water’s high mark.
Here, the exposed tidal pools hold treasure.

Sea stars on rock
Ruby Beach, low tide

With each wave’s passing, the basins emerge.
Then, a slippery path from stone to stone, upon piles of lifeless seaweed.

Ruby Beach, low tide

Until the last foamy finger of cool water slips into gently rippled sand.
This is low tide. And we have been waiting.

At Clallum Bay on the northern shore, we walked out to Slip Point, its large pitted rocks, jutting from piles of smooth, brown sea stones.
The deepest blue of the ocean, bright, beyond a shadowed shore.

Sea stones at Slip Point, Clallum Bay

Gooseneck Barnacles, Slip Point

We found carved basins and hidden pockets beneath the rocks, filled with mussels and barnacles—
and more.

Tide Pool, Slip Point

Hermit crabs battled furiously in arm-to-arm combat, hurriedly retreating as my shadow darkened their pool. Tiny blue feet, barely betraying their presence here.
Their shelter, a small cast-off shell.

Blue Banded Hermit Crab, Pagurus samuelis
Slip Point

blue feet and red antennae

A Purple Sea Urchin and well-camouflaged Sculpin rested, motionless, in the next.

Purple Sea Urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus

Tide Sculpin

And, peeking from beneath the shadow of a large rock, bright orange arms!

Ochre Star, Pisaster ochraceus, Slip Point

Dried seaweed on pebble beach, Slip Point

Ruby Beach, low tide

Further west at Ruby Beach, long, sloping sands surround sea stacks, remnants of the rocky headlands, eroded by the strong ocean waves. At low tide, the sides of these small islands are exposed.
Sea stars and closed anemone cover the surface, waiting for the water's return.

In a shallow sandy pool at my feet, open tentacles.
Translucent fingers feed.

Green Anemone, Anthopleura xanthogrammica
Ruby Beach

An entire wall of the wave beaten rock, encrusted by mussels and barnacles, again.
Their white mozaic shells against blue, striking in the late afternoon sun.
Fed by the action of the water as it surges past.

Goose Barnacles and Mussels
Ruby Beach

In this place, seemingly vacant, long shores without life, I have found it.
In colors a vivid contrast to the muted sands and sea.
Waiting for the tide to come in.

Gulls and Brown Pelicans
Ruby Beach, low tide

all photos click to enlarge

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swamp4me said...

There is nothing to say, except "Wow! I wanna go there."

nina said...

This place is a "must see" for anyone seeking pristine wilderness.
Of course, if everyone goes there, that may change.

However, those we encountered were respectful of the rules and responsible hikers.
Not a beach for pails and shovels and boomboxes and the like.

The pictures don't do it justice!

NCmountainwoman said...

What a wonderful series this has been. Your lovely pictures and poetic narrative make us feel as if we were there. Thanks

Mosura said...

Hi - I enjoyed looking through your blog. You've got some fascinating stuff in here and some beautiful places.

mick said...

I'm really enjoying reading your blog. You are bringing back memories for me of my visits there.

Tyto Tony said...

That's my idea of a day at the beach. I'd guess Frost's too. Don't know about Whitman. Was he really a wildlife warrior, do you think?

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You have captured the feeling of the wildness of this area Nina. This is almost, ALMOST, as good as going there.

T and S said...

Well written post and the amazing pictures make it even better

cestoady said...

I could hear the birds chattering,smell the crisp sea air,and anticipate what the next tide pool will have --as I scrolled down your great post. WELL DONE !!!

Rose said...

Such beautiful photos--I am ready to head for the beach! Such a treasure trove of sealife and so peaceful--I am glad there are still places like this that are protected and kept so pristine.

Sparverius said...

I always feel like I've just taken a mini vacation when I come to your blog. Thank you once again.

Appalachian Lady said...

Glad I visited your blog today to see the lovely photos of one of my favorite places. I liked the photos earlier of Cape Flannery--we camped on the Indian reservation there because there were no official campgrounds. Great place! Joan

Anonymous said...

Great photos. I feel as if I am on that shoreline.

Kathiesbirds said...

I'm mesmerized by your photos and words this week. You have taken me from desert to ocean with this post. I feel refreshed with all that blue! And who knew there were purple sea urchins!

nina said...

I'm glad you are not tiring of these photos--I'm afraid I may have reached saturation level, but still have so much to share.
Olympic is such a diverse place, its hard to relay the impressions in just a couple posts.

I still have hiking the Hoh Rainforest and canoeing on Lake Quinault.
Need a break??

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

If *you* need a break, so be it, but as for me... bring it on! Your photos and narrative are wonderful, and I'm enjoying every bit of it.

Susan Gets Native said...

Isabelle and Lorelei went into transports of delight when they saw these photos.
They think you are the luckiest chick in the world.

nina said...

Susan--give them a few more years to grow into some good hiking legs and take them there.
This place defies description.

Robin Easton said...

I cannot believe this place and your photos of it. Although I've traveled, there is still SOOOOO much I have to see. I love the green anemone, such BEAUTY in Nature. The way she recreates herself over and over in infinite form is astounding.

i beati said...

Gorgeous shots and life forms- I wanted to be

ChrissyM said...

Wow! What stunning pictures! Wow!!

babooshka said...

Absolutely gorgeous set of images.

Rambling Woods said...

Wow...all the things people don't usually think about being at the beach

Carletta said...

What a beautiful photo essay!
Well done.