Nisqually River delta & Anderson Is., s. Puget Sound, WA 12 Mar 2018

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by alexsidles, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

    Jan 10, 2009
    Seattle WA
    The first warm weekend of spring always makes me glad to be alive. The Indian plum is leafing out, the salmonberry is just starting to show a little color, and the birds are all thinking about pairing off, even if they're still mostly in their flocks. On Sunday, I headed down to the Nisqually River delta in south Puget Sound to enjoy the new spring on perfectly still water.

    00 Map.jpg

    I was originally planning to wend my way through the islands of the delta at high tide. Timing would be crucial. Nisqually is notorious for its vast mudflat that dries out on low tide surprisingly far from shore, leaving acres of sucking mud that cannot be traversed on foot unless you're a heron. I myself have gotten stranded out there, with no choice but to sit down on my coaming and eat my lunch while the water slowly returned.

    I was planning to work my way through the maze of mud islands and then turn up the Nisqually River for a bit, but my plans were thwarted when I rounded a corner and encountered a small flock of swans. Not wanting to disturb these beautiful visitors, who must soon face the long flight to the tundra and who have few enough peaceful resting places remaining to them in the face of the endless onslaught of development, I turned back out into the bay.

    You're never far from somewhere beautiful in the south sound, so I headed over to Carlson Bay on Anderson Island, one of my favorite campsites in Washington. I've walked the interpretive trail through Andy's Marine Park many times, but this time, I wandered further afield into Andy's Wildlife Park, a 180-acre forest and bog in the heart of the island. Pacific wrens were singing, kinglets and chestnut-backed chickadees formed flocks with nuthatches, and I saw my two favorite woodpeckers: a pileated and a red-breasted sapsucker. The sapsucker was calling like a maniac and eventually attracted a return call from a prospective mate!

    Launch at Luhr Boat Ramp. Anderson Island in the background, Olympic mountains in the distant background.

    Nisqually River delta. The gazebo marks the end of the boardwalk, as close to the salt marsh as landlubbers can get. We kayakers can get considerably closer.

    Small mud islands in the delta. On these bright, sunny days, you just feel lucky to be alive.

    A hungry dunlin scours the mud. Soon, this one will don its breeding plumage and head north.

    Success! The dunlin finds a tasty treat in the mud. One gulp and it's down the hatch.

    Mount Rainier, the king of Washington, master of all it surveys.

    On the way back, I encountered a trio of red-throated loons, sticking their noses in the air like they're too good for the rest of us. Past them were big flocks of common goldeneyes and buffleheads stealing baby oysters from a commercial shellfish operation. I hope you get them all, fellas!

    I paddled fast and hiked far this afternoon. After a long winter, it felt good to stretch my muscles under the bright, blue sky.

    Kayakers, it's time to get back out on the water. Post more trip reports, everyone!

    Grian and chodups like this.
  2. chodups

    chodups Paddler

    Nov 2, 2005
    Nice one, Alex! Love the two photos of the dunlins. Superb. The last two weekends will be decent for the Hammersley Shuttle. Thinking about it. You?

    I got out on Lake Washington Saturday. What a spectacular weekend.

    Thanks for posting.
  3. dermot

    dermot Paddler

    Apr 9, 2015
    was a wonderful, awesome, pretty great, totaly fine, kayak'n day!


    and first time with my Christmas pressie - a bright red Gearlab paddle; Mar_12_2018_2.jpg
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
    chodups likes this.
  4. Oldpro

    Oldpro Paddler

    Jan 21, 2006
    Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
    Alex; My heart aches; when I lived in Steilacoom those were my favorite paddling areas. Certainly nothing like it here in Albuquerque. I may have to sell the boat kit I brought down here with me during the move. Thanks for the memories!
    chodups likes this.