The Changing Geography of Schooner Gulch

Near Schooner Gulch, 2006

Near Schooner Gulch, 2006

We often think of the natural landscape as unchanging, or changing so slowly that we don't notice. Yet that's not always the case.

Over the years I've visited Schooner Gulch only occasionally. From the descriptions I've read of the area, the gulch itself isn't considered extraordinary, and I wonder if it would get much traffic if not for Bowling Ball Beach. Bowling Ball Beach is a group of rocks that are reminiscent of bowling balls near Schooner Gulch and was the reason I first visited the gulch, though upon arrival I found Schooner Gulch more interesting.

On my most recent visit I realized that the parts of Schooner Gulch that interest me are disappearing. Due to seismic activity a reef has risen along the shoreline, trapping in sand  deposited during high tide. This past October I walked around looking for this rock (taken on Sept. 17, 2006), and couldn't find it. 

Finally I found the tip pointing out of the sand, and realized what was happening. The rest of the rock was completely covered by sand and the rock that remained exposed was heavily eroded. 

Near Schooner Gulch, 2000

Near Schooner Gulch, 2000

Similarly, the rocks in this image of my friend Breanna (taken on December 31, 2000) have also disappeared, covered by sand. Even if the sand is removed, these rocks will remain forever changed, eroded and reshaped by natural forces. These images, originally taken as artistic expression, now have a documentary quality to them.