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Nisqually River Delta Paddle

Published on 7/5/2014
By Tomas Tabisola

We launched on an ebbing tide and were able to paddle only about a half mile upstream on McAllister Creek before it became too shallow to paddle anymore. We saw our first bald eagle as it flew across the creek into the trees. It looked like it was carrying nesting material.

In the group were Beth Voss, Roger Burgher, Nancy and Mike O'Connor. Along the way, we picked up Diedre who was paddling alone. She accepted our invitation to join us as we doubled back and headed around the Nisqually Delta.

It was one of the lowest tides of the year, a minus 3.4 feet, that we were paddling in as we tried to stay to the outside of the poles marking the Refuge boundary to ensure we were on the deeper side. We tried to paddle up through the mouth of the Nisqually River but again quickly encountered water too skinny to even reach where more defined river banks could be seen. We gave up, turned around and headed north towards the iron ship wreck where we intended to have our lunch break.

We came across a group of harbor seals sunning themselves in the somewhat overcast sky. There were many other seals in the water, some very gregarious and not at all shy about approaching us to get a better look. One seal was lucky enough to catch a few dogfish and salmon and was feasting on them. The seagulls flocked to his area each time he surfaced to shake and bite off chunks from each fish. An immature eagle swooped down trying to steal the fish and each time it approached, the seal would jump up trying to bite it, unsuccessfully.

After getting close enough I realized the minus tide put the wreck almost on dry land. I decided to take our break by heading to the nearest shore. After a 30 min break, we were into slack low tide. We headed towards the wreck and Nancy was the only one willing to paddle up the shallow stream to get a closer look at it. We waited in deeper water.
After her return, we headed back to the launch. But by this time the whole landscape had changed. With the tide still somewhat at full ebb, many of the boundary poles were now on dry land. We had to take a much wider berth around the receded shoreline. As we entered into the exaggerated mouth of McAllister Creek, it was an upstream paddle all the way to the boat launch, the beginning of our paddle. That last half mile made it a bit of a challenge, especially when we again encountered skinny water.
It was a good workout and as always, a wonderful time on the water. I only wished we had more paddlers from the Basic class.

Enjoy the photos!
Nisqually Delta Paddle

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