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Tide Pooling at Rosario Beach and Sharpe Cove (WA)

DATES OF SWIM: 4/24/21, 4/25/21

This adventure with swimmers from the North Sound Swimmers Facebook group was so perfect - we spent two afternoons exploring tide pools with iridescent seaweed, giant bull kelp, spider crab and little mini starfish. Both days were rainy but the water was perfectly cold. We stayed two nights at the Walla Walla University Marine Science Laboratory - they have little dorm cabins normally for students that can be rented and are right on the water!


Rosario Beach

Sharpe Cove


1600 yards 2x, Skins


46 degrees F


Buoy, boyfriend and swim buddies!


A Swim Getaway 

Living on Rosario Beach for two days was a true break in COVID life. My boyfriend and I decided to make the trip to Deception Pass with the fellow adventurers from the North Sound Swimmers Facebook group. We fell in love with the beach as soon as we arrived to our little college dorm cabin, part of Walla Walla University's Marine Science Laboratory and school. We swam for two days in the area - at both Rosario Beach and Sharpe Cove around the corner from Rosario Head. The landscape is dramatic, reminiscent of Ireland and the San Juan Islands. The water was perfectly cold - Alki Beach in Seattle has been warming up significantly (52 degrees F or so now) and I'm convinced that I'm addicted to water under 50 degrees F! I've also realized that I may be more on the ice mile track vs. long distance track at this point. For now, I love shorter, colder swims, 1-2 hours, which include plenty of exploration and adventure.  

Our first swim at Rosario Beach with the group was a gentle reminder for myself to have self compassion. The rest of the group swam to a large island fairly off shore, my boyfriend and I went about half way off shore and then decided to turn around and swim in the cove and around the tide pools. I beat myself up a little bit but then remembered to trust my gut and be safe. I remembered at this moment to be easy on myself - I normally don't feel safe going far off shore ever, let alone in a new location. The water also felt a lot colder than it had lately at Alki, so I didn't want to push it. Swimming skins always is a reminder to be humble. I'm pushing myself out of my comfort zone with no wetsuit and exploring a new place - no need to take it too far past enjoyment. Still, I realize swimming skins leaves little room for error. Getting stuck in a strong current for an extra 40 minutes in a place I'm not familiar with can mean hypothermia. Since swimming skins, I've preferred to keep the number of uncomfortable variables lower than if I was wearing a wetsuit. Example - waves/choppy day + no wetsuit + new place = too much discomfort for me. 

We ended up swimming for 36 minutes at 1600 yards. We swam through gorgeous tide pools full of kelp and iridescent seaweed. I even scraped my shin on a barnacle - I didn't notice it until I got out and was bleeding all over the place. Talk about immersion! 

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After the swim, we hiked in the rain around Rosario Head and then along the Pacific NW Trail to Bowman Bay and then around Lighthouse Point and back to Rosario from the way we came. We think the hike must have been about 5 miles. I plan to come back again and swim at Lottie Bay!  


That night, we watched a short film about the carving of the Maiden of Deception Pass, an important figure for the Samish Tribe. The carving of the Maiden sits at Rosario Beach, right by the Rosario Head trail. This sacred public art piece is striking and gigantic - it commands attention with its sheer size. One side of the figure is a human-looking woman, and the other is a mermaid-looking woman with seaweed for hair and shells scattered throughout. 


The film, "Maiden of Deception Pass | Guardian of Her Samish People" tells the legend of the maiden Ko-kwahl-alwoot and her sacrifice for her people. According to the story, Ko-kwahl-alwoot is approached by a man of the sea for her hand in marriage. When he asks her father, he says no, she cannot marry a man of the sea. In response, the man takes away all of the fish and food from the Samish. Ko-kwahl-alwoot eventually decides to marry him under the condition set by her father that she can come back once a year to land so they can be sure she is happy with him. With each visit year by year, Ko-kwahl-alwoot becomes more and more one with the sea - barnacles adorn her hair, her hair transforms into bull kelp, sea shells attach to her body. In the end, her family sees her transformation and tell her that she can stay underwater forever. The last they see of her is her hair flowing in the water as she walked away from them. It's still said today that bull kelp is actually her flowing hair through the sea. The Samish still thank Ko-kwahl-alwoot for ensuring that they receive the abundant gifts of the sea. 

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Photo Courtesy of Tara Vacation Rentals 


My painting inspired by the Maiden of Deception Pass, "The Maiden of Deception Pass Offers Her Last Goodbye to the Cliffside Scotch Broom"

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Sharpe Cove 

The next day, I swam Sharpe Cove alone while my boyfriend watched me from the beach and trail. I swam another 1600 yards at 42 minutes, this time spending a lot of time with my Go Pro exploring the tide pools and trying to capture the beauty! I thought of Ko-kwahl-alwoot each time I saw bull kelp in the water - the romantic idea of her hair flowing through the sea, watching over her people still to this day.

My next painting will be a rendition of my beautiful trip to Rosario Beach - and it will feature Ko-kwahl-alwoot! 

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