High Tide

This week I’ve been walking along the Ruston Way waterfront and observing how the high tide changes the landscape. A combination of rain and high tides had led to flooding in low lying areas around the Puget Sound. The waterfront parks and beaches have become much narrower or covered in water.

Below are photos I took showing the high tide water covering industrial ruins and pilings that are normally visible.

Lumber mills were purposefully built near the water so that logs and timber could be transported via water to and from the mills. Dickman Mill Park features the ruins of a lumber mill. The high tides have covered or filled many of the remaining structures.

The outline of the Dickman Mill wigwam base has been nearly covered.

Wigwam foundation at high tide, Dickman Mill Park, Tacoma, WA

Wigwam foundation at high tide, Dickman Mill Park, Tacoma, WA

The foundation of the boiler has been full of water. I’ve never seen it like this. I watched a pair of ducks swim in and out of this area guided by a channel created by a floating tree trunk.

Boiler room foundation at high tide,  Dickman Mill Park, Tacoma, WA

Boiler room foundation at high tide, Dickman Mill Park, Tacoma, WA

The pilings at Dickman Mill park have been almost completely covered—quite a contrast to when they are almost fully visible at low tide, creating door like vistas for viewing the Sound.

Pilings at high tide,  Dickman Mill Park, Tacoma, WA

Pilings at high tide, Dickman Mill Park, Tacoma, WA

Further along Ruston Way, walking on the Les Davis Pier has felt like floating on the water because the water level has been so close to the pier walkway. For a moment, I was reminded of the engineering at the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine in Miyajima, Japan, where the walkways were deigned to rise and descend with the changing tides.

Les Davis Pier at high tide, Tacoma, WA

Les Davis Pier at high tide, Tacoma, WA

The pilings along the dock near the Lobster Shop have also nearly been submerged by high tide.

Pilings at high tide, Tacoma, WA

Pilings at high tide, Tacoma, WA

The tides have lifted and pushed the stump that Holly often photographs. Water laps at its base.

Stump at high tide, Ruston Way Waterfront, Tacoma, WA

Stump at high tide, Ruston Way Waterfront, Tacoma, WA

As I walked and observed the high tide this week, I thought about how global climate change leads to increasing sea levels and coastal flooding. Many cities throughout the world are built along coastlines. In the U.S., the Florida coast is already experiencing flooding as high tides rise about an inch a year. In addition, the porous limestone in Florida makes finding solutions to re-route rising water challenging because water that comes up through the ground cannot be stopped by perimeter barriers (Kolbert, 2016).

Walking this week has supported me to consider how a dynamic interaction of high and low tides, rain storms, and climate change impact landscapes. The shores of waterfront parks change with the tides, from creating a new water-land boundary to adding and displacing driftwood, and are a reminder of how natural forces daily shape and alter the landscape.

Resources
Kolbert, E. (December 21 & 28, 2016). The siege of Miami. The New Yorker.

Amy E. Ryken

Amy E. Ryken

Amy E. Ryken studies partnerships that foster connections between schools and community resources, such as museums and outdoor environments. She is particularly interested in a broad definition of learning that considers how people learn, in a wide range of settings and activities, over the life span.
Amy E. Ryken

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