Mile 94 Report

May 22, 2011
by John Hull

Location:
Coos
West of Laurel Lake, Lost Lake
Conditions:
Sunday 11:30 AM
Humans / Pets:
People:
4
Dogs:
1
Activities:
Walking / Running:
5
Concerns:
Disturbances:
Vehicles:
Cars/Trucks parking:
0
ATVs/OHVs parking:
0
RVs/Buses parking:
RVs/Buses parking: 0
Cars/Trucks on beach, allowed:
0
ATVs/OHVs on beach, allowed:
0
Cars/Trucks on beach, prohibited:
0
ATVs/OHVs on beach, prohibited:
0
Activity Comments:
Beach walks Miles 94 and 95Sunday, May 22nd. 2011At about five minutes after eleven in the morning I walked down the mown path, untied our dinghy, the Second Sea Sprite, from the myrtle tree, and pushed it into Lower Fourmile Creek. I rowed down the creek with my mostly Bassett rescue dog, LucieAnne. We didn’t finish our adventure on the beach until two-thirty.I was not surprised to see three young girls, teenagers perhaps, on the east bank of the New River where the Creek enters the River. I had seen them earlier walking down the Bureau of Land Management path carrying beach towels. One of them waved tentatively as I rounded the corner and rowed over to where my wife, Blaine, my sister-in-law, Peggy, and her daughter, Katie, were waiting for me. In the interests of efficiency they had walked down the BLM path to meet me so I could ferry them across the River.In two trips everyone got across and the three young girls left, walking back up the path. My dog swam across the river, unusual for a Bassett. I didn’t want her in the boat as my wife said she (the dog) had been rubbing her head in raccoon poop on the east bank of the River. We beached the boat and walked over the dunes, all of us barefoot except my wife, and onto the beach.The weather was sunny but we were still wearing jackets or sweat shirts when we started north. There was no breeze, highly unusual at this time of year during a sunny day on our desolate reach of the Oregon coast. The temperature was in the mid-fifties we thought.The beach was flat and wide with the distance from the dunes to the water nearly one hundred yards. Although it was near noon, my wife figured it must be about low tide. And the both the dry sand and the driftline were remarkably free of debris. We headed north across what I think is mile 94 and Katie found two whole sand dollars within a few minutes. We didn’t see any more whole ones the rest of the day. I was very happy for her as she was visiting us for the first time from the deserts of Nevada and I regard the sand dollar as the iconic shell of “our” stretch of beach.As has been the case all this Spring there were no footprints or tracks to be seen anywhere. The only signs of human activity on the beach were a few stakes probably demarking Snowy Plover nesting areas up near the north end of mile 95 and well away from the surf. But we didn’t walk up the beach to read them.We walked for an hour and a half, slowly, picking up an occasional small rock including two white ones, one nearly translucent, and a green one. The largest rocks in the driftline were in occasional pockets and up to the size of golf balls although found a few up to the size of baseballs. Blaine found two crab floats, one from the Brandy and the other from the Fate Hunter. We brought those back with us as gifts to Katie. Perhaps they’ll decorate her room at medical school. So, it was nearly half past noon when we reached the place where the New River joins the sea. And there was a smaller water course coming from the north to meet the New River, perhaps Lower Twomile Creek. The fifteen foot high sand cliff was still present on the north side of the New River.As I mentioned the driftline was very clean. We saw less than ten pieces of seaweed, all small, a few bull kelp, in the entire two miles or so. There were numerous crab parts at spots including a couple of nearly whole dead crabs, one bigger than a softball, and a number of carapaces of various sizes, several whole. Katie found most of one half of a really large clam shell; it was about six inches across. There were several types of mussel shells here and there. I did find one unusual shell I had not seen before. It was more or less like a spiral snail shell but bright orange and yellow. It was about an inch long and I wondered from how far it had traveled. I gave it to Katie. Later another sister-in-law said they were common around Seattle. We saw no jellies the entire day.The waves were very small; mostly less than two feet crest to trough. Consequently, and given the lack of breeze, there was little spindrift so we could easily make out the details around the Cape Blanco Lighthouse, twelve miles to our south, and see the flash as the light rotated, and also the rocks in front of Old Town Bandon, as well as houses along Beach Loop. Old Town is eight miles north.It took us about an hour and a half to walk to where the New River meets the Sea. Along the way I shed my sweatshirt and Katie took off her jacket. The sand was warm underfoot. The water in the New River where we rowed across had been warm and the ocean water was cold but not frigid. The fresh water at the mouth of the New River felt cooler, perhaps because it was faster moving.I noted the lack of birds. We did see three little shore birds running in the sheeting water as the waves receded, my wife said they were Sanderlings. They were small but not white enough to be Snowy Plovers I thought. Group of about seven cormorants flew by a bit later. As we were returning from the north end of our walk Blaine spotted a squadron of less than ten pelicans gliding very low over the waves just beyond the surf. They appear to have discovered the secret of perpetual motion and followed each other single file as they went north without moving their wings. As Katie and I rowed back across the River at the end of our walk a lone Bald Eagle flew over our dinghy and appeared to study us as it passed overhead while we studied it. No question about its identity in my mind.About halfway along our journey we passed the first place where the ocean had overtopped the dunes in the past. These places become more frequent until eventually, as we approached the mouth of the River, there were no more dunes, just sand reaching all the way from the surf to the west bank of the River, decorated with large pieces of driftwood up to the size of complete telephone poles and lots of large trees’ root systems.When we got to the mouth of the River we were hoping to see some seals or sea lions, as we had on our last visit. We didn’t but did see some marks in the sand on the opposite side of the New River which must have been made by something like pinnipeds as they were big and there were no tracks leading further onto the sand so whom ever made them must have come from and re-entered the water.Blaine and I walked along the New River hoping to find sea lions but weren’t successful. We turned and walked back toward the surf and Peggy and Katie got up from the log they had been sitting on and headed south. Just then I thought I saw something in the surf, appearing and disappearing, not floating passively. Pretty soon Blaine and I were being observed by several sea mammals with their big shiny eyes and apparently earless heads shaped like LucieAnne’s or a Labrador’s or Mastiff’s.We called the girls and the four of us watched as up to eight or nine Harbor Seals poked their heads up to look at us and our dog (who looks like them). We watched them for perhaps fifteen minutes, and I think there were perhaps a dozen or more, all told. They were of several different sizes but all of the same dark sleek color.After a while we started south together. Along the way I was surprised to see several more sea mammals in the surf, including one pair. One had a big dark head but the other, shyer one, was much smaller and much lighter colored, almost white with grey flecks. We guessed it was a mother and her pup. We were charmed.Both Katie and I were surprised at the heat of the sand on the east side of the dunes as we returned to our boat. It was the first time I have experienced it that hot, and it was a little tough to tolerate.
Notable Wildlife:
Less than ten pelicans flying together, three Sanderlings, about seven cormorants, and one Bald Eagle over the New River.
Dead Birds:
Total:
0
Species/names:
One spine from tail to thorax, about twelve to fifteen inches long, of unidentified origin, bird?, mammal?
Stranded:
Total:
0
Fish & Invertebrates:
Two whole sand dollars, two nearly whole dead crabs, quite a few crab carapaces, mussel shells, one big clam shell.
Driftline:
Kelp or Algae·Animal casings (e.g. crab, shrimp molt)·Shells·Small rocks
New Development:
Modifications:
See above.
Natural Changes:
Evidence of wave overtopping
The dunes between the New River and the surf are wider and higher than ever before. In the past couple of weeks my wife and I have observed a couple of small planes and then a new helicopter (not the Coast Guard) flying low over the river.
Comments:
We brought back two crab floats.
Summary:
Animals were three Sanderlings, seven cormorants, less than ten pelicans, and one bald eagle over the New River. Four people on beach with one dog (our party). Beach and driftline very clean, no tracks save ours. We did find one small spine but even our medical student was unable to identify it. It was picked clean and about fifteen inches long and complete from the tail up to somewhere in the thorax.
Other Mile 94 Reports (26)

2016

May 1, 2016 - John Hull
Accessed mile by rowing down Fourmile Creek and beaching on west side of New River. Saw no gorse on this side. Human activities included five fishermen and a person flying a kite. Sandy beach gently...

2014

March 13, 2014 - Volunteer Trainer
Dead lamb and salmon on the beach.Photos by Rod Cink
  • Thursday, 3-13, ~10:00am43.07.04.49 N124.25.57.53 W - (both of them)

2013

November 23, 2013 - John Hull
More people than we have ever seen on a beach walk before, two fishermen in small powered boat on new River, one fisherman walking, and what appeared to be a family of three walking South along the...
June 19, 2013 - John Hull
Warm day, beach wide and fairly flat, pretty clean with occasional kelp, few jellies, dozens of crab carapaces, a few broken Sand Dollars, feathers, and some other crab parts. A Bald Eagle resting...

2012

November 4, 2012 - John Hull
Saw pelican with injured wing walking on beach and a dead baby sealion and three dead birds (just partial carcasses). Only we and our dog were on the beach with no signs of anyone else and no foot...
  • What looked to me like a dead little seal, possibly entangled.
April 5, 2012 - John Hull
Once again no people nor signs of people. Wet sand and sand below driftline quite clean and relatively narrow (fifty to one hundred yards wide). One large dead sea mammal, too decomposed to see if...

2011

October 18, 2011 - John Hull
Beach sand and wet sand very clean. One nine by twelve by three foot concrete dock or pier on dry sand. Flock of over a hundred gulls of two species together on wet sand. Flock of about thirty...
September 19, 2011 - H Witschi
Beach was very clean. Shells and animal casings in the driftline. One dead Steller's Sea Lion. One Great White Egret, flocks of Sanderlings and sea gulls. Five people on the beach - two walking and...
July 7, 2011 - H Witschi
Shells, animal casings and small rocks in the driftline. Practically no trash. No human impact. ATV tracks going north and south on the beach. The mouth of New River is quite narrow (10-20 feet) and...
April 3, 2011 - John Hull
There were only three of us, my wife and I and our dog on the beach. Very clean driftline. We saw three flocks of small shore birds foraging in the wet send, chasing the receding waves- Sanderlings...

2010

September 25, 2010 - John Hull
One set of human footprints (besides mine) and one set of dog tracks. Lots of small feathers at water's edge for first time. Unusual number of jellies on wet sand, very few shells or crab parts....
June 8, 2010 - John Hull
No signs of recent human activity. Lots of plastic shards on the dry sand. Two jellies, nearly a dozen whole sand dollars and many pieces of crab shell in driftline. Ten or more floats per mile....

2009

October 9, 2009 - John Hull
Except for one old set of boot prints no signs of people or their debris. One dead male California Sea Lion,and a few birds. Little jetsam except for shells, small rocks, a few sand dollars and two...
  • It appears that this carcass was male as the head has a sagittal crest that is prominent in male California Sea Lions.
September 15, 2009 - [email protected]
Accessed Mile 95 From the North end of Mile 94. I had a beautiful day on my mile. Animal casings and kelp/algae in the driftline. One dead California Sea Lion (reported to Marine Mammal Stranding...
  • Found dead on the North quarter mile of Mile 94.
September 8, 2009 - H Witschi
Very quiet, very clean beach; Snowy Plover crew quickly passing through. Shells and animal casings in driftline on a remarkably clean beach. One dead California Sea Lion reported to Diane and Dave...
September 3, 2009 - [email protected]
Parked at the Lower Four Mile BLM parking area and took the trail to New River. There were about a dozen geese and a couple of swans feeding in the river. Waded the river, there must be a breech down...
June 2, 2009 - H Witschi
Practically no human impact; vehicles tracks/footprints most likely from Snowy Plover observers/predator control.Along miles 94 and 95 dry sand (dunes) marked and declared Snowy Plover nesting...
January 12, 2009 - H Witschi
No human activities, except for a few old footprints along New River, no noteable wildlife, no noticeable physical changes to shoreline - looks as it always did for the last few years. Kelp/algae and...

2008

November 14, 2008 - John Hull
Lots of kelp but very little else. Several types of shore birds on sand, flying, or in water. Only other visible animals were sand fleas. Very little in terms of shells or crab parts.Limited...
September 9, 2008 - H Witschi
Untouched beach - only a few (old) human footprints. Remarkably clean beach, practically no litter. Dead birds were 2 Common Murre, 1 large immature gull and 2 unidentified birds. Low human impact (...
August 22, 2008 - John Hull
Large clumps of Bull Kelp at beginning of mile. More kelp than June, also birds this time (gulls and Sanderlings?), one dead bird (small gull?), very little litter. Jellies found along mile but also...
June 27, 2008 - H Witschi
Easy crossing of New River at access point; river not even knee deep. No human impact. Beach remarkably clean, but massive sand build-up. A few snowy plovers seen, one blue heron flying along east...
June 2, 2008 - John Hull
Looked good to me, clean and unoccupied. Thought it odd that there were no small shore birds. Shells, mole crab casings, 2 black fishing floats, one crab float with line but no seaweed in driftline...

2007

July 7, 2007 - [email protected]
I crossed New River from the BLM trail at the end of Lower Four Mile Lane. New River seems to still be flowing south at Four Mile Creek. There was a little mud, but not bad, not even knee deep. I saw...
May 21, 2007 - [email protected]
I waded the New River mud at the BLM Trail north of Lower Four Mile Road. Shells, animal casings and small rocks in driftline. Low human impact (0).
March 11, 2007 - [email protected]
As long as I was in the area, I walked Mile 94. Shells, animal casings, small rocks, wood pieces, ocean-based debris in driftline. shore birds foraging in surfline. I took a picture of some tracks...