I was hiking north along Rialto Beach into the Olympic Wilderness Area, a spectacular stretch of undeveloped beach protected in its natural state through the Wilderness Act and the Park Service. These logs were entire trees that had fallen into rivers and streams through erosion and storms and floated at flood times down to the ocean or directly into the ocean from the shoreline. Some still had the root system at their base. Many were snapped along their trunks showing the force of water, floods and tides. The force the storm had to push these logs into the piles on the beach must have been impressive. The park service warns hikers that logs in the surf can be extremely dangerous. It would be fun to watch a storm from high ground to see how it moves these pieces.
I was fascinated by the designs formed in the wood. The logs were bleached by the combination of salt water and time in the rain and sun. Cracks formed along the grain of the wood and across the grain. In places were the grain was intricate, the designs were elaborate. It was especially fun to study the stump ends of the logs were the roots and trunk came together. These places often had whorls and elaborate patterns. I followed some of the cracks with my finger to trace out the design.
How long does a log stay on the beach and how long until it decays? Fascinating to think about this dynamics and how it influences the ecology of these beaches. I didn’t see partially decayed logs. My guess is the storm tides would disintegrate a decaying log pretty quickly.