Winter Beach Combing

By , December 20, 2014

I’d almost forgotten the joys of winter beach combing.

Now that Aly’s home, I’m getting outside a whole lot more than I have in recent weeks. Living in an urban apartment while attending college, she has felt the lack of good walking/hiking opportunities, so she’s made a point of getting out for a while in our brief daylight hours while home for Christmas. I’m inspired to get out as well, and lately we’ve been reaping dividends beyond good health.

A good haul (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

A good haul (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

We love beach combing any time of year, but in the winter, we enjoy two particular advantages. Winter storms cast jetsam in greater number and variety than the summer, and we face lower competition from other likeminded individuals at this time of year.

On Wednesday, we hike north along the rocky beach to the edge of a cliff called “Raven Shit” in Tlingit, the local Native language. It creates a natural boundary, as it can’t be passed on the beach. We understand that a path through the woods, up the steep slope and across the cliff top must exist, but the rock hop to the cliff edge offers a good workout for a casual afternoon’s outing.

Along the way, we found useful items cast up by the tide. We found a seedling tray, a rubber playground ball, a nalgene water bottle, and an intact wine bottle, and a bar of plastic that will come in handy somehow, eventually. The prizes of the day: a pair of 5-gallon buckets in excellent condition, and an extendable boat hook! We use buckets for myriad tasks. They degrade and break up after a while, so we constantly watch for new ones to beach. The boot hook’s nicer than the one we already own. They’re quite useful for fishing things out of the water from our rocky beach, and high-reach tasks around the “homestead.” I feel we’re quite fortunate to find one undamaged and uncorroded.

Our rambles on the beach are a lot of fun; finding useful items along the way offers a bonus!

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