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Friday, January 28, 2011

Pt Defiance

Yikes another week has slipped away. I received a comment on my last entry from "SRM" asking about a vacation in Washington State. I wanted to refer her to my entry on Pt Defiance.

Oops need to write said entry.

Anyway welcome SRM and see my comment in last post about your questions. I am happy to help you plan. I am also hoping you will start a blog about your home state.

Last Saturday, feeling the burden of being house and office bound for yet another gray drizzly week I went down to Pt Defiance in Tacoma. The weather report was for clearing, but at home it was certainly a dreary scene. Well a walk in the deep woods, in the rain is not so bad. By the time I got to the southbound freeway I could see that a convergence zone set up showed clearing skies to the far south.

Happy Me.

The parking lot was already filed when I arrived at 915. This large park, situated on a peninsula at the mouth of Commencement Bay is a popular destination for runners and walkers. The one way loop road lends itself for a nice metered 5 mile course. How nice it would be to have such a place near by. As I walked along the road I found a little hidden treasure. This culvert is signed in white pebbles " 1936 WPA". This road is a wonderful WPA project.

Thank you to all the hard working men. The WPA projects around Washington are still treasures. See my entry from last September ( Nisqually and Mt Rainier) to see a tunnel and a lovely stone bridge made by the CCC ; the Civilian Conservation Corps, established during the same time.

The entrance of the park is dominated by two large formal gardens; Rose and Iris. Come Spring this is just the place for a camera nut to explore. Attached to the Rose Garden is a lovely house, built in 1898 by the original keeper of the park, Ebenezer Roberts. The house , now called The Lodge, was built for a whopping

get ready for it


Pt Defiance is home to a nice little Zoo that focuses on Pacific Rim animal species. The Aquarium is well known for its Marine Mammal rehabilitation and they have received Walrus and Sea Otter rescued from unfortunate circumstance. It is a bit odd to be walking along and see Caribou and Musk Ox. I struck off into the wonderful woods. There are three major trail routes. I picked the one that bee-lines down the spine of the peninsula. Here the trees are wonderful. Many of them quite super sized.

You can appreciate the effect storms have in this place. Gaps in the canopy and tumbled logs can almost map the historic storms of the last 20 years. Even the previous weeks rain brought down a lot of little limbs and many tips and bits off the ends of branches.

In woods like these logs are usually sawed through to allow the trail passage and left in place. The serve a vital function. Nurse logs support and give rise to new growth. Logs also are shelter and highways for animals of the woods and they hold and stabilize soil.

A handy stump can be converted to a well placed sitting place. I have seen fallen trees cut into 6 to 8 inch thick slices and the discs serve as "stepping stones" in mucky places.

This fallen Western Red Cedar burst on impact. The smell was wonderful!

The westerly trail ends at Pt Defiance itself. Here you can see the beginning of the infamous Tacoma Narrows, home of Galloping Gertie. An early explorer said of this place that with a gunnery at this point and one across the water he could" stand in defiance of the world". These illuminated trees are Madrone. They are hallmarks of Puget Sound cliff sides.

With sunny skies there were many folks about. Some of the runners were clearly men from the nearby Joint Base Lewis / McCord. Nice to see but "excuse us Ma'am" as they ran past... well sigh.

Turning my eyes to nature study

Like all wet side mixed conifer woods this one is filled with life of every size.

Tiny moss spores

Licorice Fern growing on a trunk. This ferns rhizome tastes like licorice. Native peoples used to chew it or use the extracted juice for cough. There is also a mention of using it as a body wash for measles. I am sure it is a good astringent. I would say, too, it sweetens the breath.

It is a potent taste and a little dab will do ya.

Interesting shelf fungi encrusting a trunk and climbing a broken limb.

The grandest tree in the park is likely to be The Mountaineer Tree. This Douglas Fir is believed to be about 450 years old. I could not resist having a lie down at its base to get a squirrels eye view.

I went down to Owens Beach. This weekend ( January 22/23) was King Tide time. The highest tides of the year. At Olympia, in the area of the market, the high tide this morning as 17+ feet. Today there were many out of a beach comb. This is not the typical saltwater beach with plenty of shells. I did get a lovely polished bit of blue glass

and this nice photo of a Glaucous-winged Gull.

Back up the hill along a weaving staircase (feel the burn) and I was back staring at Musk Ox and once again at The Lodge. There is a nice little Japanese garden complex here, adjacent to the old trolley station which was fashioned with pagoda styling.

I recognized several trees here from Dr Kruckbergs garden; a Japanese Larch and a Spanish Fir. They also have a Moon Bridge over the water complex. See my Kubota Garden entry from October 2010 for a formal garden with a Moon Bridge.

I drove back to the freeway via Ruston Way along the waterfront. It was lunchtime and many of the restaurants and eateries were packed. I bet everyone just thrilled to be out in the sun. I had to stop when a big red boat caught my eye. This is Fireboat Number 1 built in 1929 and one of the first west coast fire boats. It is a grand thing to stand next to. neat and clean and fitted with water cannons. It makes quite a picture.

I will have to return in the Spring. The Iris and Rose Garden will be in bloom There is also a Rhododendron Grove in the park as well as the nearby Rhodi and Azalia collection at the Weyerhaeuser HQ.


  1. Lovely walk. Did you enjoy a sit-down in that woodland chair? They leave the same cut trees on the trails around here. That's the first time I have ever seen a close-up shot of a fireboat. I don't think we have them around here.

    On a trip a few years ago along the Blue Ridge Parkway, we stopped for a lecture from a ranger about the WPA and CCC projects in the park. The pictures of those young men were eye-opening. They worked hard and long, and were grateful for the opportunity. It wouldn't be a bad idea today, but you probably couldn't get anyone to sign up.

    You mentioned in one of my entries that you loved seeing the countryside in my area, which is so different from yours. I feel the same way about the things I see on your blog. It's a window into a natural world very different from mine, and very beautiful.

  2. In reading about the CCC I understand the men were paid 30 dollars a month, 25 of which went home to the family. Since the men were houses fed and worked in remote areas, the scheme is a good one to help the folks back home and just give them some pocket change.

    I agree, I suspect the WPA /CCC scheme could be put back into use. AmeriCorps is one such work scheme. It can help young people earn their way to college. Plus develop some serious work skill and ethic. I suspect,however, young people who choose AmeriCorps already have a solid work ethic

  3. Also, the wonderful chair was decidedly damp and if you notice the little yellow bits. That is witches butter, a type of jelly fungus

  4. I wandered over here from NS...thank you! You reminded me of my intention to drag out my hiking book today.

    I live in Tacoma and have most of my life. I go to Pt. Defiance an average of 5 times a week. Marriages in the lodge and Pagoda and rose garden...we film our 72 Hour Film Festival entry there every year...we always get a zoo membership. I love this place. Thank you for reminding me. :)

  5. dmdm thank you for visiting. You are fortunate to have such a lovely place for daily refreshment.

    I hauled my hike book out and visited Coal Creek yesterday. This lovely wild park between Bellevue and Issaquah is packed with trails and interesting things to see.

    I did 6 miles in 2 hours and got back to my car in time to hear Stuart McLeans story on Vinyl Cafe ( Dave goes grocery shopping)

    I hope you stop by often and share your thoughts as i Puget Sounder

  6. Lovely place, Marti. Great photography, too. Like the shot with the bridge, especially. For lack of anything better we've been going to Stanley Park in Vancouver (lots of birds) but there's not much going on there right now, though we did see the witch hazel blooming.