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Portland, Oregon
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Buddy and I took advantage of a break in the weather to visit the creek today. The temperature was in the upper forties, until we entered the woods. Brrrr. I'm not sure where the weather will take us this year. November was too dry; December rains came too late; January rainfall pushed the record books; February...well, it may end up a pretty dry month. That sense of organic impatience characteristic of the pre-spring woods is simmering just below the surface of things. The Indian plums are putting on leaves, and the big leaf maples are festooned with pollen hangers...but only... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at WatershedEvents
"Transient Chaos #3" - Copyright by Juliet Shen and reproduced by permission of the artist. I want to heap unsolicited praise on a friend of mine whose art career has been fascinating to follow. I met her in 1984, when she was working at Hornall-Anderson Design (now Sid Lee). She was an exceptional art director, one of the best I ever had the privilege of working with. More than that, however, she was (and is) a gifted designer and fine artist. Visit her truly wonderful (and still affordably collectible)work HERE. The theme of her latest work is "Transient Chaos." The... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2020 at WatershedEvents
Buddy just turned 12 this week. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUDDY! Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2020 at WatershedEvents
Beatty Creek's watershed is in relatively good shape, so the creek is not inherently "flashy." But when a series of damp weeks are followed by a stretch of days in which the rainfall exceeds .1 - .25", the creek swells to the point of overflowing. We are 48 hours into such a stretch, and the creek is running full bore right now. Downstream view Upstream view I am writing this at end of day, January 6th. So far it has rained measurable amounts locally five out those six days. By midnight, the total in the last 24 hours will be... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2020 at WatershedEvents
A visit to one of my favorite places on Beatty Creek this morning turned up this interesting development: A new tangle of “big wood,” which has created a fairly extensive gravel bar smack in the middle of this section of the creek. In this downstream view of the channel, the tapered shape of the bar is just visible behind the debris pile: Here’s the downstream tail-end of the gravel bar: Note the reddish color along the far side of the stream, where a portion of the channel’s bank is being removed at a rapid rate: The heavy rains also helped... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2020 at WatershedEvents
Above, a before and after photo of the impact of a good rain on Beatty Creek. In the brief interval since my last post about Beatty Creek, a substantial amount of rain has fallen - enough to cause flooding in many of the low-lying areas around Olympia, and more than enough to turn the creek into a torrent. Wednesday-Thursday, in fact we set a record for rainfall for the period - almost four inches in a 48 hour period. The watershed for Beatty Creek is not very flashy, meaning it doesn't operate like an on-off water valve the way badly... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2019 at WatershedEvents
Roughly 2.8 stream-miles (Smi) lie between Beatty Creek’s headwaters in the Capitol State Forest and its confluence with McLane Creek. A few days ago I performed a quick survey of 6 viewpoints located at easily-accessed locations on the stream’s corridor. All but two of these were at places where a roadway crossed the main body of the creek. Designated and ranked by elevation, these included: VP 1130’ / Headwaters – no direct access, not visited VP 679’ / Smi 0.5 – no direct access, not visited VP 374’ / Smi 1.3 – Bridge on Westhill Drive SW VP 302’ /... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2019 at WatershedEvents
The two photographs below require a bit of explanation: The first was taken at the confluence of Beatty and McLane Creeks. I was standing at water's edge of McLane, and the view is directly into the mouth of Beatty Creek. For the second shot, I stepped over all that debris and pointed the camera directly upstream. What's important here is what's NOT to be seen, specifically the dark, sinuous motion of several large chum salmon fighting their way up Beatty Creek to their natural spawning grounds. It is nearly mid-December. In a typical year I would not be able to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2019 at WatershedEvents
I'm always amazed by how rapidly time seems to fly these days. I haven't been on this site for months...been keeping my whining mostly to myself. I'm still writing about Bretz, and just recently made what I hope will be the breakthrough that will let me get this publication monkey off myback. More about all that as it develops - in the meantime, if you are interested, check out this LINK. It will take you to a podcast by Nick Zentner of Nick on the Rocks. One of the issues I deal with continually is the surprising fact that I... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2019 at WatershedEvents
After months of avoiding the Bretz book, I'm back to writing. It's a wonderful feeling - I just hope I can keep it going. I owe my recovery to John McPhee, at least in part. I've alsways known the only way out of writer's block is to write, write, write. But try as I might, I wasn't able to get the first words to stick to the paper. Then I read McPhees Draft 4, which has a wonderful section containing the cure. Here's a segment from the the several pages I worked on before I was sure I could actually... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2019 at WatershedEvents
At the end of last year I decided to give up my .COM address for the UP FANNO CREEK blog I'd been more or less (usually less) maintaining since 2008. Several folks have asked how to get to the material, which may still be accessed here. Not all the links are serviceable, for reasons unknown, and I am not planning to re-activate the entire blog - what's done, is done, and my book on the creek is pretty outdated by now. My active advocacy days are behind me - unless something local to Thurston County dicatates otherwise. I'm more fully... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2019 at WatershedEvents
The chum run in Beatty Creek struggles. November’s rains came too late, and in quantities too small to provide much traction for fish intent on spawning in the mid-to-upper reaches of the creek’s three-mile channel. We are well into December now, and it's been over a week since the last meaningful rainfall. Water levels in the stream have been dropping steadily, to the point that the future of late arrivals is seriously in doubt. Here – at an elevation of 160 feet above sea level – long stretches of the stream are so shallow that the tops of the gravel... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2018 at WatershedEvents
We store our travel trailer at a local mini-storage lot. This beast sits right next to our rig. The owner and I bumped onto each other one day when we were both on the lot. "Try not to scratch the side of my police car when you're backing that trailer into your slip," he'd joked. I told him I'd do my best not to damage the fascinating patina. He laughed, then went on. "I'll bet you're wondering why anyone would bother to store a POS like this one, right?" I demurred. "I bought it for the engine," he said, "I... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2018 at WatershedEvents
Bretz, J Harlen. Papers, Box 7, Folder 3, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Segment from a 1922 field book. I’ve been reading Bretz’s handwritten materials (letters, notes, journals, lists, etc.) for almost two years, and have become fairly adept at deciphering his strong and generally “honest” handwriting. Unlike many well-educated people from that period, Bretz never mastered the calligraphic approach to his script, thank god. There is only the slightest forward slant to any of it, rarely a flourish, and most letters are well-formed, most of the time. As a result I tend to read more or less... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2018 at WatershedEvents
Thanks to a reader who caught an error of fact in this post and brought it to my attention in the kindest sort of way - The title of the paper from which I took the Bretz quote was Washington's Channeled Scabland (not "Scablands" as I wrote it.) The quote itself is correct, however - Bretz used the singular of the term in the title; but both forms appear within the text. More on this interesting little tidbit later, perhaps.
Toggle Commented Apr 5, 2018 on THE GRAND COULEE at WatershedEvents
Thanks, Avice. I'm glad you liked the post. Please keep me in your loop, and I will for sure let you know if I ever learn more about the origin.
Toggle Commented Apr 4, 2018 on Drumheller Channels at WatershedEvents
Thanks for the nice words, Rob. And thanks for coming over for a look.
Toggle Commented Apr 2, 2018 on THE GRAND COULEE at WatershedEvents
Umatilla Rock, a remnant formation in the Dry Falls Cataract formation. Last Sunday I was fortunate enough to accompany a number of "Flood Nuts" on a hike around Umatilla Rock on the floor of Dry Falls cataract. Our guide was Gene Kiver, one of the most knowledgeable Ice Age Floods experts alive. He is also co:author, with Bruce Bjornstadt, of On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods. At the north end of Umatilla Rock and entering the "floor" of Dry Falls - splash pool and main rim photo-left. It was a wonderful outing, and has helped me gain a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2018 at WatershedEvents
Symons and his exploits first came to my attention when I was studying J Harlen Bretz’s paper on the Grand Coulee. Written in about 1931, the paper provides a great example of his fully matured style. It also seems somehow more “relaxed” than many of his previous papers. By this I mean to say that the tone is so calm, and the flow of information and observations so effortlessly moved along, it leaves the impression that Bretz especially enjoyed the process of crafting this particular work. He was getting ready to set the Scablands debates aside – perhaps, in his... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2018 at WatershedEvents
The men took their places in the sleek bateau. A seventy year old Iroquois named “Old Pierre” sat in the stern at the steering oar; next came the party’s leader, 1st Lt. T. W. Symons, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers – he took his station on top of the baggage; the four oarsmen – Pen-waw, Big Pierre, Little Pierre, and Joseph – occupied the middle benches; Mr. Downing, the expedition’s topographer, and his water-proofed satchel full of log books, charts, journals and instruments occupied the bow. When all were settled in, Symons nodded at Old Pierre, who grunted something... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2018 at WatershedEvents
THE BRETZ SAGA REVISITED (WORKING TITLE) I began work on this book in April of 2016, and am not all that far from completion of a rough draft. Right now it looks as if I'll get over that major hurdle by at least the beginning of summer. That puts me about four months behind the (very) ambitious schedule I set for myself last fall. There are multiple reasons for the delay, not the least being a lack of discipline with the research. If you've ever been bitten by the research bug, you know already how much fun it can be,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2018 at WatershedEvents
"The only delta of Vashon age known in the valley of Hoods Canal is at the mouth of the Dusewallips (sic) River, on the north side of the valley. At the seaward upper margin, it is 120 feet above the Sound. Its surface is a plane, sloping towards the troughs of the Hoods Canal. Its altitude makes it obviously a feature produced subsequent to (glacial) Lake Hood, whose waters were 100 feet higher." J Harlen Bretz (1913) Deltas played a major role in Bretz's study of the Puget Sound's glaciated history, especially when it came to determining the probable boundaries... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2018 at WatershedEvents
During the four years J Harlen Bretz spent in Seattle, he managed to examine an amazing number of sites, the bluffs south of Alki Point included. He focused mostly on determining if those bluffs contained visible exposures of Admiralty till - which they apparently do not. I ventured in that direction the other day, mostly in order to reacquaint myself with the general area - it's been decades since my last visit. Traffic was hellish, especially along Beach Drive, so I bagged the idea of driving south along the shore, deciding instead to walk the beach along the north side... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2018 at WatershedEvents
Scene from a quarry located eight miles south of Olympia and ten miles north of the terminal moraine of the Puget Lobe glaciation. This extensive deposit of gravel and sand was formed when several large glacial lakes to the north began to drain through the area. Think of it as part of the streambed of a river that was roughly 4 miles wide and 15 miles long. In his classic 1913 work (Glaciation of the Puget Sound Region), the legendary geologist, J Harlen Bretz, described it as the “Gate Pathway River.” For close to a thousand years, roughly 60% of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2018 at WatershedEvents
South end of Greenway Park, February 2011. Fanno Creek (middle stream) is completely out of its banks. A few days ago a member of the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District’s (THPRD) Greenway Advisory Committee reached out for input on the future of the park. The “open letter” that follows is my response. First, however, a little background on why I am involved at all: My wife and I lived in the West Slope neighborhood for 16 years. We had a Portland address, but technically lived in unincorporated Washington County. Accordingly, our water bill came from Clean Water Services, and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2018 at WatershedEvents