Surf's Up at Deception Pass
After a long, dark and rainy week, the sun came out this morning. Not wanting to miss the moment, I headed over to Deception Pass State Park to try and get some early spring wildlife photos. My destination was the West Beach/Cranberry Lake section of the park. The Sand Dunes Interpretive Trail over there is usually a good spot for wildlife sightings. It was breezy at home, but I am somewhat sheltered from westerly winds. What I would encounter at the park took me by surprise.
From the main entrance on Whidbey Island, the road winds down through the woods towards the lake. When Cranberry Lake came into sight, I realized there was a significant weather event taking place. The lake surface was roiling with a heavy chop kicked up by the winds. Then I saw the wind-driven surf rolling in off the Strait of Juan de Fuca and I realized there probably would not be much wildlife to photograph today. I would encounter a much different example of nature's grand performances.
As it happened, the Camille Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3, the "Organ Symphony" was playing on the radio. That massive pedal note that opens the fourth movement hit just as I spotted the maelstrom ahead. If you know the work, I think you will agree the music was the perfect accompaniment to the blustery weather event I was witnessing.
I parked the truck and watched the surf rolling in until the music had finished. It was a major goose-bump moment I wanted to savor. This is a view from West Beach which faces the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In the background is Deception Island that marks the entrance to the pass which is off to the right. Although we are quite a ways inland here, the conditions are similar to open oceanfront. The sand dunes nearby bear testament to that.
This is the West Beach landmark I have dubbed Fraggle Rock. I would estimate the winds here were 30-40 mph (48-64 kph) sustained coming right out of the west. It was not only difficult to stand and take photos, it was also cold in that wind. Does anyone know if this rock has an official name?
A few humans were not the only creatures watching the spectacle. This pair of gulls also appeared to be in awe of the wind's fury.
North Beach on Deception Pass is a short hike from the West Beach parking lot. Although there was a bit of shelter from the wind, there was surf rolling in here as well.
Despite the difficult back-lighting, I had to post this shot of the bridge taken from North Beach.
If you have never heard the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony, I found this video of the last movement recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in London. This is not a work designed for puny computer speakers. The music swells and diminishes like the wind, and is punctuated with sudden bursts of sound like waves crashing onto the beach. The 32-foot pedal stops of the Royal Albert Hall organ reflect the grandeur of this great state park: