The Christmas Pond was created by Prentice Bloedel as a Christmas gift for his wife Virginia. That’s how
the pond got its name. The pond is the last major water feature at the Reserve. The water entering the pond is the
accumulation of both groundwater and runoff that feeds the Reflection, Japanese, Mid and Swan ponds.
All of this water flows over the waterfall into the Glen, transits the Glen to the Christmas Pond and, finally, exits to Puget Sound.
As you know if you have hiked the Glen trail, the Glen is fairly steep. The steep creek bed causes the water to flow fairly fast. Fast flowing water picks up silt. When the water enters the pond, the silt is deposited and becomes sediment. After several years, the sediment builds up to the point that the Christmas pond starts to look a bit “filled in”.
In the picture above you can see how effective the water is at carrying silt. This picture, taken just above the bridge, show that are almost no fines visible, just river rock. And a happy duck pair who are feeding.
This view shows the creek where it enters the pond. As the water slows it drops the silt it has been carrying. The result is a build up of sediment in two places. The first spot is where the water swirls in a local eddy, just inside the pond entrance. The second spot is straight across from where the water enters the pond.
In both cases the current slows, and drops the silt.
The solution is a seven step process.
First, drain the pond. Second, shovel the sediment into mounds at the water’s edge. Third, shovel the sediment into buckets. Fourth, raise the buckets from water level to trail level. Fifth, load the buckets in wheelbarrows. Sixth, wheel the sediment to a disposal location. Seventh, refill the pond.
In this picture above the pond has been drained to the extent that it can be. As you can see from the exposed rock, the water is a good foot lower than its usual level.
Shoveling sediment is really hard work. It’s heavy and the footing is treacherous.
Add to that the fact that the shoveler often has to stretch to deliver a shovelful, and you get some appreciation for how physically demanding the work is.
The material must be removed from the pond with real care. This requires double handling of the sediment. The sediment is shoveled into piles at water level.
In the next step, buckets are loaded at the water level.
Buckets are then passed to the trail level.
The buckets are loaded into wheelbarrows.
A wheelbarrow shuttle carries the sediment uphill to a disposal site. While it would have been much easier to move the sediment using a utility vehicle, the narrow, steep trails prevent their use.
The Christmas Pond has been restored to full depth where the creek enters, with no damage to the surroundings. An estimated three cubic yards of sediment has been removed.
With the pond refilled, the waterfall from the pond is, once again, burbling away.
This was a partial “muck out”. The rest of the pond will need to be cleaned out later this year.