Over-flying an unexplained phenomenon near Bremerton Airport, WA, USA

CoastlineIt isn’t every day that you wander across a series of geological oddities that can’t be explained by science, but on a flight down the Washington coast one spring day, to our delight we saw one: acres and acres of peculiarly hump-patterned land, bump-sliding beneath the shadow of our Skyhawk. It didn’t matter what was growing on the land below us—groves of trees or pastures where horses grazed—the terrain was uniformly stippled with massive dots.  It was the most remarkable thing to witness… and made us question our eyesight not just a little.  overflying the mima moundsUpon landing, we did a little research and learned about Mima mounds, and the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve of Washington. Located a quick, easy flight about 70 miles south of Bremerton airport, the Preserve covers just over 600 acres and encompasses everything from Garry oak woodland to prairie grassland.

So what are Mima mounds?  Unexplained humps of dirt, ranging in height anywhere from 30cm to taller than 2 metres.

mimamounds
Photo shamelessly lifted from the Mima Mounds Preserve website

Mima mounds—or phenomena similar to them–can apparently be found in pockets on every continent, and while there are all sorts of theories as to what causes them, there’s no agreement… because all of the regions where they occur are so vastly different in climate and ecological conditions.  The phenomena also vary in formation, from `giglai’ landforms in Australia, to `fairy circles’ in Nambia.

My favourite theory about Mima mounds is that they’re caused by burrowing gophers.  Other theories include wind-blown sediment forming dunes; seismic activity; and the shrinking and swelling of clay.

Bremerton Airport, while sporting no mysterious Mima mounds, is another one of our favourite waypoints to stop for lunch, fuel up the plane, and stretch our legs.at Bremerton Our canine companion really loves this congenial airport, mostly because at the southwest corner, near the end of runway 2, there’s a lovely network of little trails with the North East Fork Union River meandering through them (whenever we’ve flown in, said `river’ has been just a small stream, and sometimes in the summer, merely a trickle).

trails
Airport trails, southwest corner of KPWT

Fat, sweet wild blackberries grown in profusion here in the summer, but for those who prefer to order their dessert from a menu, the onsite Airport Diner has outdoor picnic tables where you can enjoy your food… again, a favourite with Zeus.

Bremerton National Airport (BNA), the largest airport on the Kitsap Peninsula:bremertonBremerton airport

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