The day before our Mount Si hike we hiked About 3 miles out to glass beach in Port Townsend. Glass beach is near the old town dump site that was a hole in the ground located near the edge of the bluff. The dump was eventually closed but the rough waves ate into the side of the bluff eventually exposing the old garbage and dragging it into the water. There were various bottles, dishes and ceramic hardware that ended up broken and worn by the sand and waves. There also used to be a marble factory in town so sometimes a wayward marble or mixed, colorful piece of glass is found.
I had been to this beach 4 or 5 years ago and I remember finding glass and pottery everywhere I looked. The beach was a local secret whose directions were guarded carefully as not to attract throngs of beach combers that would pick the place clean of these treasures. I wanted to make a trip out there to collect some beach glass and pottery to use as decorations for my wedding or possibly gifts.
Boy have things changed since I was out there last. My step-dad who lives in town warned me that the beach had been pretty much picked cleaned over the last 5 years. I did some research on beach glass before I went in case I had to buy some for my wedding and to my surprise a cottage industry selling beach glass “gems” had popped up. I found websites listing beach glass pieces from$10 to $200 depending on the color and size. Holy cow!
I decided not to expect much when I headed out there as far as glass but I did expect some of the, what I thought were less desired pieces like pottery, to be left. I decided I would just buy mechanically sanded beach glass for the wedding decorations because no one will know the difference and it is way cheaper. I still wanted to go out to Glass Beach to see what I COULD find. I have looked to Northwest beaches for rock and glass treasures as long as I can remember.
I got up at 7 am, packed up the dogs and a backpack and headed for the ferry. Port Townsend is a two-hour trip from where I live. We got to the beach at 9 am and started our hour and a half trek out to Glass beach. There were already 20 cars in the parking lot at 9 am but there are two directions to hike along the beach and many people stop before they actually get to glass beach so we didn’t know how stiff the competition would be. We hustled out to glass beach to try to beat the people walking down the beach behind us and in hopes of finding some treasure before it is totally picked over.
When we got to glass beach there were already 5 people with 3-gallon buckets and garden hand rakes combing through the sand and rock piles looking for glass. We spent an hour walking back and forth on the beach and digging in the rocks. There was nowhere near the amount of glass and pottery I saw there 5 years ago. There was still some to be found but the pieces were smaller and usually the more common white, brown or green.
Growing up I took finding glass on the beach for granted. I thought that all beaches had glass on them. While doing the research before our trip out here I found that this beach is one of the most abundant areas for sea glass in the state, if not in the world. I find it a little sad that people go out and literally mine the beach for this stuff and that someday it will be near impossible to find a piece of rounded sea glass. Sure, garbage still finds its way into the waterways but the era of dumping your trash in a big hole near the bluff is gone. A Seattle Times article I read said that “it takes [approximately] 20 years of weathering for a jagged shard to become a smooth stone”. The day when you visit a northwest beach and don’t find a piece of weathered glass on it is a reality.
I don’t disagree with the collection of this stuff. In fact I am a huge proponent of it. What doesn’t quite feel right to me is the people who go out with big buckets and rakes and spend all day combing through the sand and rocks trying to get every last piece and not leaving any treasures behind for others to find.
Anyway, the weather was beautiful and we had a lot of fun on the hike and I managed to collect a Ziplock baggie full of sea glass. I even found one marble! Gretel is infatuated with birds and there were so many out there that it was hard for me to walk her because she kept pulling this way and that. Chester doesn’t like getting wet so I had to really encourage him over the areas where we had to walk out in the lower tide areas to get around the downed trees. Both doggies ended the hike tired and happy as usual.
The mission on this trip was to collect glass. I didn’t take any pictures while we were out there. You can check out this blog post about collecting glass at glass beach that has a small photo of the area. In lieu of doggie photos I will leave you with a couple of photos of the glass I collected.