RIALTO BEACH

The goal was a wild, fog-smudged shoreline over 150 miles from Seattle…

We drove, ferried, and drove again, finally arriving in Forks, the small town made famous by the Twilight books & movie. It was a two day blitz – on the first day, the Olympic Mountains and Second Beach; on the second day, the Hoh Rainforest and Rialto Beach. (Even with all the water around Seattle and Puget Sound we are starved for the beach!)

Rialto Beach is an easy half hour drive from Forks, but first we wanted to explore the Hoh Rainforest.  Often mist-filled and rainy, the Hoh area was sunny that day, but even in sunny conditions it was dark inside the forest. Most of my photos of the rainforest didn’t turn out well – patience and a tripod would have worked better than our determined pace. Next time.

As we headed to the coast the fog returned and hovered just at the edge of the land. We parked and made our way through a patch of forest towards the pounding crash and boom of high tide. The powerful sound overtook me well before I saw the beach. Within the woods, even at water’s edge, dim light concealed details, and where thick forest confronted heavy surf, spindly fir tree skeletons stood tall, their future a tangled wreck at their feet.

It was all wet grays and diffuse light.

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The smooth, round rocks clattered as they rolled and tumbled under receding waves.

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A miscellany of sea life was scattered about the beach. It all made me wish we had a handy marine biologist along to grill with questions: What’s this? And that? Why this color? Who eats this stuff? And what does the other forest, the one that lies beneath the waves look like?

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A few enormous logs – the trademark of Pacific Northwest beaches – rolled around freely in the tide. We actually recognized one giant log from the first time we came here, two years ago.

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The softest, most subtle colors could be seen through the mist, whether you looked out to sea or back into the woods.

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The sun would hide behind thick clouds, then a vague, barely blue patch would form up the beach revealing tantalizing glimpses of rugged outcroppings and sea stacks. There’s a natural arch not far from here, but that would have to wait.  It was getting late. I wished I could stay another night – there are birds here, (last time we saw pelicans), killer whales, seals, and a whole other world out there at low tide.  Today all that was invisible to us, but we were well satisfied.

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Drift with me

along sea-sprayed shores…

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I discovered a gem – please take a second to listen to this recording of the rocks and surf at Rialto, and sounds inside a hollow log on the beach.  The recording was made by acoustic ecologist (acoustic ecologist – that idea alone makes me shiver with pleasure!) Gordon Hempton. He was interviewed by Krista Tippet, who produces a very good NPR show called “On Being.”


61 comments

    • I do a fair amount of editing, mostly in Lightrooom ,depending on the photo of course. With these it was all about getting the exposure right; some were too dark, or too dark in places, and some seemed to need more or less contrast, and more or less clarity. And I crop often, and I use vignettes sometime, but I try to keep them subtle. I enjoy the processing and see it as an important part of the process. Thank you for commenting!

  1. Lynn, absolutely gorgeous. As I was looking and reading I was thinking, I could do a whole room around these images and it would be glorious… what a gallery wall they would make! Oh my!!! 🙂

      • I’m glad you’ll take it because I meant it. I guess it’s because I have been doing so much work around the house and have visited about a million design websites these past few months, but when I saw your photos I started seeing a room, the wall color, the wood tones and the furnishings. Guess I have room design on my brain and your images inspire good design. 🙂

      • You would not want to reproduce that noise level though – maybe an occasional slither of rocks under a wave, but the thunderous waves would be tough to live with! I worked for interior designers years ago & they had a room painted the most amazing gray – I could not figure out why it was so beautiful, the way it changed with the light, and then they told me it was specially mixed and had many, many colors in it. All toned WAY down, paled & softened, That’s what was going on at the beach I guess!

  2. Yes, thank you for taking us along on your adventures. This is really lovely, and the audio link is a wonderful bonus.

  3. We LOVE the sea photos! #6, of the spray and foam winding its way through rocks — amazing. We’d love to put these on our walls (totally agree with Life&Ink) 🙂

    • I hope you get there some day. It really is a bit of a trek from Seattle, but that keeps the crowds down – I don’t think there was anyone there that day (it would be different on a summer weekend though).

    • It’s funny how the wave action, and maybe the geology, varies so much from beach to beach. Another beach just a few miles from here that we visited had no smooth rocks at all, but Rialto is chock full of them. I can’t leave without picking up a few…

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  5. Oh, Lynn, this series is powerful. You’ve got several truly exceptional images, and the series/your words as a whole transport me. I know that clatter of rounded rocks and roll of a 10-ton log in the surf. I think I never should have left.

  6. Amazing images!! I love the misty seascape and the iridescent bubbles and the splashes and the colourful seaweed… And, okay, they’re all amazing.., and don’t those logs kind of look like the legs of a reclining giant…?

    • They really do – I was loving that as we watched it roll about in the surf, and when you walked towards the log the angle changed so it would, then would not look like it had legs.

  7. I loved these, not least because they are of things/places we missed or skimmed over on our Trip of a Lifetime. Some people think we should ‘do’ some-place else, but seeing your beautiful photos makes me more sure we should go back and do it ‘properly!’ We travelled by public bus from Aberdeen to Port Angeles, via Forks -which was an experience in itself!- but we only glimpsed the rainforest, the beaches and the mountains. We’d never heard of Crescent Lake, but it was glorious, and I tried to get at least one descent photo from the bus as we went along, my husband telling me when it was clear of trees for a moment…Have to go back!

    • Isn’t that lake amazing? And it goes on for so long! We kept driving because it was getting late, so I only have photos of it from the car, with the phone…I know what you mean by wanting to stay somewhere longer and really look more deeply. I hope it happens for you. Thanks for your comments!

  8. I love Rialto Beach, it has the most amazing cobbles. Teeny, tiny cobbles by the billions. i especially like the third image in the essay, the bleached driftwood and standing silver snags look amazing in this foggy exposure. I had a friend from Virginia visit the Olympic coast a long time ago and she couldn’t get over the driftwood, she had no previous concept of it and was simply bowled over by the sheer quantity……and sometimes individual size of some of the trees…..

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