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05/20/09 - Second Beach and Pacific Fog

It was a sunny day in Port Angeles, and it stayed sunny as we headed west, but as we approached the Pacific, the sky turned gray and the sun vanished. On our last few trips to Second Beach, the sky had stayed sunny, but this time we got to enjoy the Pacific Fog. In some ways, we could see more with less light, because there was less glare. The cliffs seemed more jagged, the barnicles fiercer and the forests atop the seastacks greener.

On our way back, the sun returned as we journeyed inland, and we had a sunny journey home.

Keywords: second beach

05/01/09 - Springtime at Second Beach

Second Beach is also showing signs of spring. There was a good low tide, so we went exploring. To start with, the beach is huge. The spring tides bring in sand, so we had lots of beach to explore, and the rocks and caves at the south end of the beach were easy clambering since so many of the rocks have been buried and little pools filled in with seasonal sand. There were also a lot more starfish and anemones, or at least more anemones visible.

A little starfish

The big beach

Starfish waiting out the low tide

We'll call these cocktail olive anemones.

This is a hollow tree an the trail to the beach. People have placed shells on its shelves as offerings.

Skunk cabbage in bloom

Now that we've been sensitized we are seeing trilliums everywhere.

Keywords: second beach, spring, tides, trillium

03/06/09 - Second Beach Update

We were back at Second Beach the other day. There weren't exactly signs of spring, but winter seems to be receding. To start with, there was a lot more sand around the entrance to the sea cave. There are still a lot of rocks, but the summer sand is coming in. Also, there were lots of starfish, hanging out on one of the rocks for the low tide.

As we said, not quite spring, but things are changing.

There was more sand around the entrance to the sea cave.

Keywords: second beach, spring, winter

02/05/09 - Winter Beach

Second Beach is a winter beach, but there is still a lot to explore at low tide. The beach is broad and sandy, and there are even a few starfish in the tidepools. There is some rough going at the south end of the beach since so much sand has washed out for the season. Check our tide tables and look for a good mid-day low tide at Second Beach or Rialto Beach. (You can also see upcoming good tides in the left column of this web page).

The hole in the wall

Seastacks and a broad beach


Starfish are back.

More starfish

More seastacks

It is a rocky road to the cave entrance without sand.

Rough beach and seastacks

We don't know who has been making little leaf faces and leaving them on various trails, but hello again.

Keywords: rialto beach, second beach, tides, trails, winter

01/18/09 - Second Beach

There are not a lot of great tides at Second Beach this time of year, but there was a two foot low tide a bit after noon so we hit the road. Second Beach was busy. We've seen it quieter on summer weekends. The beach was warm and sunny, a pleasant change. There were even people out in their bathing suits splashing in the shallows. Second Beach is otherworldly with the sun, the mists, the seastacks, the low flat beach and the massive trunks of driftwood tossed with abandon along the beach.

Amazing mist at the south end of the beach

Amazing light as well


The cave was barely visible until we were nearly upon it.

A mysterious channel

Driftwood at the mouth of the trail from the parking lot

Keywords: second beach, summer, tides

07/09/08 - Second Beach: To The Seastack

We've been visiting Second Beach for a number of years now, so we've been tantalized by the big seastack that lurks offshore just a bit south of the trailhead inland. Since we usually visit Second Beach at low tide, it often seems as if we could just walk right out to this seastack. Of course, every time we have approached we have found a channel of water blocking us. Sometimes it is fairly wide, but other times we are thwarted by a mere ten feet of choppy water of uncertain depth and current.

This July 9th was different. This time no confounding body of water appeared as we approached the seastack. Yes, the sand was wet, but we were able to approach the base of the seastack dryshod. The low tide was 0.8 feet, but we had been to Second Beach with lower tides. It took a combination of low tide and sand flow to create the miraculous sandbar we traversed.

The base of the seastack was a jewel box of mussles and barnicles and lesser shells, here and there decorated with dazzling star fish. There were little caves, some worn into the stone and plain, others decorated like the seastack base. We made our way around the seastack, away from the beach. By carefully timing the waves we made it to the small beach between the large landward seastack and the smaller seastack behind it. We explored a bit, admiring our own adventurousness, our good fortune, and the wonderful scenery.

Not ones to press our luck, we made our way back after a brief sojourn, and explored the beachward face of the seastack. We have seen people climbing seastacks, and we considered climbing this one, but we Kalebergs have more the grace of gazebos than gazelles, so we settled for a sea level tour.

Our return to the beach along the sandbar was straightforward. This is just as well. We always like to be able to retrace our steps. We then explored Second Beach to the south, wandering about the Pirate Cave and gawking at anemones in the various tidepools. When we returned to the sandbar that led to the seastack the tide had risen. A fair bit of the sandbar was already submerged. We had seized our opportunity. Time and tide, we knew, wait for no man.

Our miraculous sandbar

Seastacks are each a little world, isolated from our own. High above us grow forests, grasses, vines and, so we have been told, wild strawberries.

Our treacherous passage to the seaward seastack showing the mosaic of shells lining the base of the seastack.

A mysterious cave

A decorated cave

The surface is studded with shells and adorned with starfish.

More starfish waiting out the tide

Keywords: beaches, second beach, tides, kale

Tide pools and seastacks

05/15/08 - Signs Of Spring At Second Beach

There have been some fairly good tides at Second Beach recently, so we made a point to get out there. Second Beach is reached by a 3/4 mile trail through the coastal rain forest, and as we started down the "staircase" we could see that the tides were low.

We clambered over this year's greatly increased pile of driftwood and made our way south to the "treasure cave" and climbed around some of the tidepools. There were a good number of anemones lurking where they could, and a few starfish waiting out the low tide.

The beach itself was broad and flat with the big breakers well out from the shore. The little river towards the south end of the beach had a good flow, so we had to cross it up near the bluffs. For us, it was a challenge, but most people can gambol from small stone to small stone with greater skill and less drama than we.

A starfish, one of many

Sea anemones

These are little sea anemones

O'er the ramparts we clambered ...

Keywords: second beach, tides, little river

03/02/08 - Back To Second Beach - Driftwood Report

We were back at Second Beach yesterday for the low tide around two o'clock. The trail through the rain forest hasn't changed, but the first thing we noticed when we got down to the beach was driftwood. There is always a fair bit of driftwood near the base of the trail, but this winter a lot more big logs have piled up there.

The beach itself was rather wet, with flat sheets of water running over much of it. Still, it was good walking, as long as we kept an eye on the waves. Second Beach is a broad, flat beach, so a little breaker can run a long way.

That bald eagle below actually did look a bit ratty. He, or she, was molting, so the classic profile wasn't quite what one would find on a postage stamp.

Lots of driftwood

Even more driftwood, and a peek at the hole in the wall

The weather cleared up a bit

A molting bald eagle

Lots of water

Keywords: second beach, winter, eagle

Mysterious sea stack at Second Beach

09/03/07 - The Eagle and the Shark

Second Beach was hazy, gray and mysterious today. We went for a high low tide and managed to get to the sea cave but no farther. The air was thick, moist and salty, the sea silver and the tidal flats glassy. There was a bit of melodrama as if lifted from a nature documentary.

On our way south to the sea cave we noticed a small shark stranded on a sand bar. We considered helping, but were separated by a rather deep bit of water. It wasn't clear we could get to the shark without getting soaked. Besides, there had just been an article in the New York Times about a shark saved at Rockaway Beach. The shark had been "saved", but a day later it was found washed ashore, dead. Healthy sharks stay in the water.

As we returned from the cave and watched the rising tide, we saw an eagle swoop in the distance. We knew its target, the shark. The shark was still alive when we passed, but the eagle was guarding it. We kept our distance. There is no point in having a dust up with one's national emblem. While we like shark, we were willing to give him or her dibs on this one.

This sort of scene is part of nature's way. We know that, but it usually is done off camera.

The eagle and the shark

Keywords: second beach, beaches, birds, eagle

04/26/07 - Second Beach Report

In honor of Second Beach being reopened, we've updated our Kaleberg report, and we've added lots of new pictures in hopes of luring more people to this often overlooked gem on the Pacific.

Mystical seascape at Second Beach

Keywords: second beach, beaches, kale

04/15/07 - Second Beach is OPEN

While there is no official agreement yet, the local Quillayute tribe feels that they are close enough to reopen Second Beach for the tourist season. This is great news. It means that one of our favorite beaches is being reopened, and that the Quillayute will have somewhere to go in the event of a tsunami. Since this is a local matter, there is not all that much in the media, but check out this KNDO/KNDU/AP article and this Peninsula Daily News background piece and update.

Keywords: second beach, beaches

06/13/06 - Return to Rialto Beach

We have been missing Second Beach, which is still closed due to a failure of our government to complete a sensible land swap with the Quillayute tribe. So, we decided to go back to Rialto Beach, and it turns out that we have forgotten just how beautiful it is there. We explored up past the first headland and had a little jungle journey, and we took lots of pictures. While we still miss Second Beach, Rialto Beach has a lot to offer, even to us Kalebergs.

UPDATE 06/21 - We've added a panorama of the beach for those who have wondered what the seastacks must look like from a helicopter.

Between Two Seastacks at Rialto Beach
Hurricane Hill Trail
Hurricane Hill Flowers

Keywords: rialto beach, beaches, flowers, hurricane hill, second beach, kale

Dungeness Spit Composite

10/23/05 - Coastal Panoramas from the Olympic Peninsula

We were browsing the web and came across the Washington State Department of Ecology's Shoreline Aerial Photos database, and we couldn't resist putting together a couple of composite images. The one linked to above is of the Dungeness Spit. The image above is just the image chip, click on it for the full 5910 x 448 image. The one linked to below is of Second Beach, the image is 3916 x 710. That California Coastal Records database gets all the attention, but the Washington State Coast has its charms as well.

Second Beach Composite

 For a bit more info on these composite pictures, you can see our coastal composite page.


Keywords: panoramas, beaches, dungeness, dungeness spit, second beach, washington state

Sea Star at Second Beach

08/15/05 - Sea Stars

We often see starfish at Second Beach, particularly at low tide, but on our last visit we saw several stranded sea stars. You can tell they are echinoderms, related to the starfish and sea urchins, because they have five fold body symmetry. In fact, they look a lot like starfish, except they have 20 legs, rather than just five.

We've updated our tide tables for La Push, which is right near, and has almost the same tide schedule as, Second Beach. You can even download an iCal calendar to set up a trip at low tide so you can explore the tide pools and caves more easily.

Keywords: second beach, animals, fish, tides

The Cave at Second Beach

07/01/05 - Solstice Tides

Thanks to the solstice, there have been some very low tides out at the West End beaches. This includes our favorite beach, Second Beach. At the south end of the beach there is a small cave that you usually cannot even get to at high tide. At low tide, the entrance is accessible from the beach. We went on a day with a particularly low tide, as you can see on the left, with only 0.8 feet of water. (If you want to plan your own low tide visit, check out our Tide Finder program, or our tide table for La Push).

Aside from being able to explore various caves, the low tide also brought up a lot of starfish. You can see them bunched up near the waterline on a mussel rock. We have never seen so many starfish stacked together like plastic toys. We could also see a lot more anemones, and not just the dull sand covered ones, but lovely blue-green ones, in the shallow tidal water. We only saw one eagle, but we were quite impressed with Second Beach nevertheless.
Seastacks at Second BeachHuge Number of StarfishBlue Anemones

Keywords: tides, second beach, beaches, la push, software, eagle

06/01/05 - Tide Finder for Finding Good Tides

While there are many programs for producing tide tables, there do not seem to be any programs for finding a suitable tide. For example, if you want a low tide during the day for exploring Cape Alava or walking the Dungeness Spit, you have to wade through listings of high and low tides. Tide Finder program is based on FlaterCo's XTide 2.6 package, and provides a Mac OS X friendly user interface for specifying a tide search. You specify a tide reporting station, a range of dates, a desired range of times and the desired tides, high or low. It gives you a hit list, a calendar and a tide graph.

Keywords: software, tides, beaches, science, cape alava, dungeness spit, second beach, dungeness

01/05/05 - Sunset at Second Beach

Do we have great sunsets around here or what?

We were out at Second Beach near La Push and couldn't help noticing a rather pretty sunset. The sea stacks, in silhouette, were pretty neat too.
Second Beach Sunset

Keywords: second beach, beaches, atmosphere, la push

07/20/04 - Rialto Beach and Second Beach

Rialto Beach is one of the most accessible of the West End beaches. You can even park right at the beach and climb over some driftwood to get at the waves. They even have a wheelchair accessible picnic area.

Since we like to get some exercise, we usually head out to Second Beach which is just across the Quillayute River. There is some satisfaction with the 3/4 mile rain forest walk you have to take to the surf, but Rialto beach offers instant gratification.

Of course, if you do get a mile or two north of the parking lot, you'll find a nice little headland climb if you want to continue. We usually just turn around and check out the sea stacks again.

Rialto Beach
Aside from sea stacks, like the one shown below, and nice walking beach, you can also see pelicans, seals, cormorants, and bald eagles. They were near extinction back in the 1960s, thanks to DDT, but now they have made a comeback.  We  often find them high on the tall trees just beyond the driftwood line on the beach.

Sea Stack at Rialto Beach

Keywords: second beach, beaches, birds, rialto beach, eagle

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