Olympic National Park: Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach lies just south of the Hoh River’s outlet into the Pacific. We parked in the lot on the bluff above the beach and made our way down the switchback trail. The trail emerges along Cedar Creek, which is flanked by piles of driftlogs. Sea stacks rise from the beach at low tide. Although they are massive, they are dwarfed by Abbey Island (to the left in the images above and below).

Image: Sean M. Santos

Low tide was at 12:15pm, and we arrived at Ruby Beach at ten after, perfect timing. Immediately in front of us was an unbroken stretch of sand, but we were hoping to see sea stars and other tide pool life, so Sean and I walked off hand-in-hand toward some of the smaller sea stacks and large rocks to the south.

Image: Kathrin Russette

The first wildlife we noticed were California mussels interspersed with barnacles in clusters on the rocks. At high tide, they would be submerged, but now they were at shoulder level.

Image: Kathrin Russette

We scrambled onto some of the low rocks and were rewarded with proper tide pools.

Green sea anemones stay wet in a tide pool.

Image: Sean M. Santos

Clams and barnacles on exposed rock.

Image: Kathrin Russette

I climbed the largest sea stack in the vicinity only to slip on a slimy area above the high tide line. Although I smashed my camera on the stack (and caused its battery to fly into the air and land in a tide pool), it still worked. Now it has some battle scars from Olympic. Kathrin snapped a shot of me drying the battery on my hoodie (below).

Image: Kathrin Russette

Kathrin and Sean explore tide pools as the tide begins to return.

Purple sea anemones. Image: Sean M. Santos

White sea anemone. Image: Sean M. Santos

Foam from a wave creates a heart in the sand. Image: Kathrin Russette

We had about given up on seeing sea stars when, behind a rock, we discovered a purple one waiting for the tide to return.

A little further on, we discovered many more sea stars, both orange and purple, congregating on either side of a larger rock.

After the returning tide chased us from the sea stars, we walked up to the edge of the bluffs, where seeping minerals stained the rock brilliant colors.

The precipitation had shifted from an omnipresent light mist to an earnest drizzle, so we slowly made our way back along the beach, staying just below the driftlog line. Each of us captured images as we walked.

Kelp washed up on shore. Image: Sean M. Santos

Image: Kathrin Russette

Image: Kathrin Russette

Visibility was deteriorating rapidly, and the Hoh headlands beyond Abbey Island could no longer be seen.

Image: Sean M. Santos

Image: Kathrin Russette

Image: Kathrin Russette

Drizzle had turned to rain shower, and the surf was beginning to churn by the time we walked back up the trail to the top of the bluff.

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