Pinnacle Rock Camp, Long Island, Willapa Bay, SW WA

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Astoriadave, Oct 2, 2016.

  1. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Longtime paddle buddy Jan and I spent two nights at Pinnacle Rock CG, a USFWS supported campsite on Long Island, a 7 mile long, 1.5 mile "wide" island in the southern end of Willapa Bay, Washington. The Willapa is more noted for its enormous tide flats and huge population of oysters and bay clams than exotic paddling, but we made do with the 45 minute paddle in access from the Refuge ramp off HWY 101, and enjoyed some of the 30 miles or so retired logging roads, now grassy pastoral avenues for exploring and enjoying the upland island.

    Pinnacle Rock CG is just around the corner from High Point, the only convenient, nonmuddy all tide access. Otherwise, landing on the island demands at least five feet of water on the tidebook, or a sometimes knee deep slog 100 meters or more from water to the high tide mark. Our boats rest adjacent to the 7 meter tall sandstone bluff, atop which we camped.



    The rest of the shallow bay runs S to High Point, here at about 3.5 feet of water.



    And Pinnacle Rocks, offshore, about 6 feet of water.



    Jan's main motivation was to nail some bay clams. Here he is at low water, scrabbling on the small cobbley spit extending from the rocks. An hour or so produced a meal for him.



    Narrative continued next post.
     
  2. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    The primo camp, bayside, was occupied.



    So we camped on the bluff site, having great views, here with tarp over table, looking toward the bay.



    A short jaunt to High Point fired up our appetites. En route:



    The last load of logs left the island some 15 years ago. Since then, those roads have become grassy thoroughfares, although this one served a long gone gravel quarry on High Point. This relic is an oyster breeding contraption, which would be suspended on cables on the flats until the small spat oysters become eating size, when the harvesters pluck it and take it off for processing. All the oysters on the bay are privately owned, having much the same status as range cattle, sans brands, their ownership determined by where they land and grow.



    The next day, a small front washed ashore, nailing the tarp (more on that in a separate post), and stranding us for a few extra hours until we paddled the 45 minutes back to the ramp at dusk on a falling tide.



    Paddling the bay demands close attention to the tide, and is limited to the three or four hours surrounding high tide. One can manage a counterclockwise one day circuit of Long Island, launching from the Refuge ramp adjacent to the S end of the island on a falling tide, timing the crossing of the tide flats on its north end before the tide drops below 4.5 feet, and waiting out the low ashore near Diamond Point, until higher water returns.

    The circumnavigation can also be done counterclockwise from the ramp at Nahcotta on the Long Beach Peninsula, chasing rising waters to High Point, and quickly returning up the east side of the island as the tide falls, again rounding the N end of the island before it goes below 4.5 feet. The "cost" of missing the tide window is either a long detour using deeper water, or a 6 hour wait on deep mud en boat until high water returns. Not a place for those who cannot read a tide book!

    Point to point paddling, running N or running S, is possible from one end of the bay to the other, but demands csreful planning around high water.

    Finally, the cold winter waters and often rough seas from wind and shallow water demand good paddling skills and apropos immersion protection. At the beginning of the sea kayak "craze" in the 1990s, a paddler was lost every other year or so, until the need for skills and good immersion protection was appreciated by bay paddlers. In summer, balmy mornings are complemented by rough seas as the afternoon NW winds blow, often until dark.
     
  3. WGalbraith

    WGalbraith Paddler

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    Dave:

    Couldn't help but notice the steel garden rake in your first photo. I have seen people carry some interesting items along on their boats but....??
     
  4. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    I wondered if someone would notice that. That's a clam rake ... actually an ordinary garden rake, but with just a 60 cm handle.

    The clam beds are mostly sand and silt intermixed with lots of small cobble, running from 1 cm to 3 cm in diameter, so a hand cultivator, about 4 or 5 tines spaced 1.5 cm apart, is the normal tool of choice because the clams are about 3 cm across the shell, and mostly within the top 10 cms of bed. Usually only takes 15 minutes of casual raking to isolate a meal's worth. But I ran across that thing, thought it might hasten the process,and threw it on deck.

    Well, no, it is not a good tool on that ground. Takes a fair amount of pressure on the shaft, near the rake, to bite into the cobble, and is more work than the hand cultivator. It is used by commercial diggers who first run a harrow down about a foot, pulled down the beach behind a small Kubota garden tractor, to loosen everything up. Next low water, they attack the loosened ground with those short rakes and haul in a real mess of clams, in jig time.

    Unfortunately, my Kubota garden tractor would not fit on deck. :cry: :p
     
  5. mbiraman

    mbiraman Paddler

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    Thankx Dave
     
  6. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Great trip! Hope you said "Hi!" to Long Island for me! It's a beautiful place. :)