Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Under the sea at Sunrise

“Roll on, deep and dark blue ocean, roll. Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain. Man marks the earth with ruin, but his control stops with the shore.” --Lord Byron

Sunrise Beach is a stunning hideaway that I will probably never be intimately acquainted with. It's a marine preserve on Colvos Passage, north of Gig Harbor, that seems to be popular with scuba divers. Unfortunately, I could only see the beauty above the water.

A steep, narrow trail winds its way from the dirt parking lot to the top of a hill with spectacular views, but
that's about all the walking you can get in. And since stinging nettle seems to have invaded that forest, I decided to keep to the beach.

On the other side of the parking lot, a grassy slope leads down to a sign bragging that the largest octopuses on the West Coast live there. The grass drops onto a thin strip of beach covered in smooth pebbles and bits of timber. Three wooden posts stand in the shallow water, forming a wide doorway leading nowhere. But there are sweeping views of Vashon Island, Mount Rainier, Point Defiance and the Tacoma Narrows bridge. A blanket of trees looms over the beach, sheltering those who come to sit on the logs and gaze out at the water.

The land is owned by Pierce County, all 82 acres of it. It has a 2,400-foot waterfront but several houses dotting the beach form boundaries for visitors.

Divers are warned about a unique and rapidly changing tide, which
escorts an interesting array of mini sea creatures and kelp onto the shore. I'm told there is a kelp-forested wall 35 feet beneath the water and a second wall 80 feet down where friendly wolf eels make their dens. Maybe one day I'll see for myself.

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