Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year's Beach Survey

It was time once again, this last weekend, to do our monthly dead bird survey for COASST. It just so happened that we are having extreme high tides right now along with a beautiful full blue moon, high winds, and cool (for Juneau) temperatures. With some rain last week and the frosty temperatures that followed, many of the plants and trees are encased in sparkling crystals.

We like to do the survey at the higher tide because we feel that we are more apt to find bird remains and get to them before the other predators find them at a higher tide. There are eagles, ravens, crows, gulls, bears, and wolves that would probably love to munch on a bird carcass.

We found that the tide was so high that we weren't able to go our normal route and had to change directions several times. When we first came to a clearing and could see that Eagle River was rushing towards us instead of flowing down river (which would be its natural flow) we all had a feeling that we might not be about to go on our normal route to get to the beach.

We didn't have to bushwack too much - we were able to follow the tree line at the grasslands to get back to high enough ground to be on our way.

Around 1 pm - High Tide

Around 3:30 PM Receding Tide

The tide is very dramatic here - it went from 19.9 ft at 1 pm to a negative 4.3 ft by 7:30 pm. That's a lot of water shifting! We never did walk on the sand - we had to walk in the high grass and weren't able to walk the entire route. We dressed for wind but when we got to the beach it wasn't windy at all and we shed our gear. We had a nice picnic with lots of goodies and sat on our coats in the grass watching the incredible wave action.

It was very tempting to stay and take a nap but we knew we needed to hit the trail before getting caught in the dark on the return trip. There were several very icy patches on the trail and although there isn't a lot of elevation change, it does have a few ups and downs.

This was probably one of the most beautiful trips into boy scout beach we've ever had.

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