My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Doing the Kayak Stroll

Laurel had it all planned - the tide would help carry us out to Otter Island where we would hang out and walk the beach, watch birds, and take lots of pictures until the tide was again on the rise and would carry us back through St Helena sound to Bay Creek and then  to our launch site at Edisco Water Sports.

We woke up at the house where Laurel is house/dog sitting to find dawn was breaking beautifully. So we spend the first thirty minutes or so of the day just enjoying the dawn.

Our first view of the dawn

Which just got prettier

And more spectacular

Then we went to Edisto Water Sports where another of her friends, Mhalian,  joined us. We started out about 7:30 A.M.,  riding the fast-moving tide out of Bay Creek then turning into St. Helena Sound.  There we had a little wind but were still making pretty good progress to our destination.  Laurel knew there was a sand bar across the shortest route and that we would have to get around it before we turned.

Mhalian boarding

Paddling down Bay Creek

Then across the big, empty St; Helena Sound - Our destination is the island to the left.  But we have to access it through a creek about a fourth of the way down the trees in the picture

But when she lined up with the water tower to make her turn,  and started towards the inlet between Pine and Otter island, she soon found herself stranded on a sand bar.  I felt my way and managed to get over the bar into a little deeper area. But within minutes, ALL the water in front of us just disappeared.

While waiting to see what we were to do next, I also ran out of water and left my kayak here to go confer with Laurel and Mahlian

Nothing stops Laurel from taking pictures

We had a confab and decided we could not make Otter Island, but Pine Island, it's nearer neighbor had lots of new beach along it and would do fine as an alternate destination. While we discussed all this,  then started dragging our kayaks, another batch of water ahead of us disappeared. We ended up dragging our kayaks at least a quarter of a mile and perhaps more.  Of course, our bodies told us it had been at LEAST two miles.  In fact, while dragging our boats several foraging birds mostly ignored us as we passed through their feeding groups. And of course, Laurel and I took lots of breaks to photograph ourselves and the birds.

I passed close to this marbled godwit when walking over to meet up with Laurel

Malian didn't stop to take pictures and got way ahead of us - she has less than 100 yards to go

We could have paddled over all this a few hours ago

Some short-billed dowitchers enjoying breakfast as I trudged past them

I thought this pattern on the sand looked like icing - and it was another excuse to rest

Walking my baby - gotta long ways to go

We "landed" on the beach, which meant we could put our boats above the high tide line at about the the top third of the island. We first walked the long beach and enjoyed the pristine oysters sticking out of the sand and various shells and birds that were actively feeding.

(Disclaimer- showing restraint here - I'm only showing you about a tenth of my finds)

Looking back across the sand bar as it rises out of the water

Such a pretty batch of oysters

This arrangement looks like something a Victorian would covet

Laurel walks down to end of the Island. Around the corner, the Edisto River meets the sound

A lovely natural arrangement- I took only pictures

Pen Shell

Mussel shell (L) and cockle shell (R)

After running out of beach,  we came back to our kayaks and had our lunches before starting another exploration on the end Pine Island closest to Otter.  We could see the creek that forms a channel between the two islands as well as a sand bar that had most of the mouth closed off.  Since the open area was a long ways off, we didn't attempt to drag our boats up there.  We also didn't want to try to wade and get wet.  It was cool enough that I was happy to be in my long underwear shirt with my paddling jacket over it, as well as my life jacket for almost all the time we were there.  So we contented ourselves with walking inland as far as we could, before we hit the marsh.

We found this shallow pond on the way to the Otter Island end of Pine Island

The colors in this shallow freshwater pond was reminiscent of the Morning Glory feature in Yellowstone - there the algae is the result of trash being thrown into it and cooling it down

The creek between Pine and Otter Islands

As the day progressed, more and more birds appeared, including lots of red knots and skimmers, as well as royal terns, marbled godwits, and other shorebirds and gulls. They were all using the sand bar to rest on while waiting for the tide to bring them another meal.

We only found this one piping plover and one Wilson's plover

We found a lot of green that turned out to be wilted leaves until the tide rehydrated and refloated them

Skimmers - we saw around 35 of them waiting on the tide to come in

Finally, around 2:30 P.M. the tide was again high enough that we only had to drag our kayaks out about fifty yards.  The winds had picked up and we had a little surf line to move through.  This just required holding our kayaks perpendicular and knuckling the boats out until they floated,  then paddling hard across the sound, before making the turn into Bay creek. There we were protected from the wind and were pushed by homeward by the tide,  making the last bit of the trip super easy. I enjoyed watching the docks full of loafing double crested cormorants and brown pelicans, but could not access my camera to  take their pictures.

We are also waiting for the tide - almost time to leave

Laurel is an avid paddler and sometimes works as a kayak tour guide. She knows this area intimately.  She thinks the huge fall storms moved lots of sand into this area. It may also be coming from Edisto Beach where the recently added sand has already been depleted, and that beach is scheduled for more beach renewal. The combination of a new building sandbar and a super low tide is what did us in.

But these constant changes are what make coastal areas so fascinating to me. You can experience different trips without changing areas. If  you paddle near coasts, expect bigger storms with more changes in the places you paddle.  And we had a wonderful day anyway - and burned more calories.