We now get to my favorite ecosystem – the beach! I have always lived near the open water and have a physical connection to its sounds, colors and smells. I find it restorative, and both exhilarating and soothing. I am an earth sign (Taurus) so I suppose it is on some level, elemental.
Don’t get me wrong I absolutely loved all the places I have visited on this trip – each with its own aura – but I truly felt I was “home” when, through the Sitka trees, I got a peek at our next stop:
This is Ruby Beach, the northernmost beach in the area, called the Kalaloch, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There are over 73 miles of wilderness coastline, that is untouched by human development. Before I take you down to the shoreline, let me provide a little background to this particular ecosystem.
Coastal – The mild temperatures and abundant rain in this area of Olympic National Park helps the forest of Sitka trees and tall shrubs and even the sky-high red cedars on the coast to flourish. Once you reach the clearing, it is quite a change from the dense, muted forest of multiple green hues – suddenly you can hear the roar of the pounding blue surf and the air is hazy from the mist being strewn about by brisk winds.
Ruby Beach is considered a “rocky” beach; not a sand beach although it is named for its reddish sand. What is particularly striking about Ruby Beach aside from its wild, undisturbed nature is the abundance driftwood logs on the shore as well as the “sea stacks” (large rock islands) right off the coast).
The logs are large and tangled and there are no cleared paths, so to get down the beach to the ocean you must figure out a way to climb around, over and through them. I loved this part, for it brought me back to my childhood, climbing over the jumbled rocks along Gravesend Bay Brooklyn. The logs were more difficult to navigate – partly I am sure, because I am not quite so nimble as I was as a child – you decide:
There is sand, however once you get past this wall of driftwood – and the ocean is spectacular – here is a shot courtesy of Lenore:
In case this is not enough natural eye candy for you, Ruby Beach is also home to marvelous sea stacks. Through years of water erosion, massive rocks have been carved into caves, then the crashing ocean breaks through the craves creating arches and when the arches walls collapse sea stacks are created.
Lenore also got a great shot of one of the arches at low tide:
The sea stacks in all their glory – each one a marvel:
While these rocks are treacherous and many lives have been lost as sailors tried to navigate ships through this perilous area, the sea stacks also provide a perfect sanctuary for many sea birds, including eagles, gulls, common murres and even tufted puffins. I would have loved to have seen puffins as they are the funniest, quirkiest birds (did get to interact with puffins in Alaska – you can see them here) but as these next pics show, the mist made it difficult to see clearly, even with my telephoto lens:
I did catch one raven hopping along the driftwood, and although I am preparing a post of all my animal sightings, here is a sneak peek:
These birds are incredibly smart and have long memories – so I am always respectful of their space – they have been known to take revenge of those humans who are not.
Back to the beach I was reminded how quickly the weather can change in this place of multi ecosystems. A fog bank loomed offshore, ready to come in and take over, should the winds shift:
Though the day had been sunny and brisk, we decided not to tempt fate and leave this heavenly place before while this fogbank was well off shore. Still, not too shabby to come back to a sundowner at our lodge:
Next up: a quick stop in Sedona, and then on to the motherlode: The Grand Canyon.