Mile 95 Report

May 22, 2011
by John Hull

Location:
Coos
South end of Bandon State Park
Conditions:
Sunday 11:45 AM
Sunny
55° F
Wind:
Calm/Light
Humans / Pets:
People:
4
Dogs:
1
Activities:
Walking / Running:
5
Concerns:
Apparent Violations:
None observed
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 we 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:
Up to a half a dozen large marine mammals -Harbor Seals- in surf at mouth of New River. Also saw solitary ones further south in surf and one pair we took to be a mother and pup.
Dead Birds:
Total:
0
Stranded:
Total:
0
Fish & Invertebrates:
Large number of crab parts in spots including two large, nearly whole dead ones.
Driftline:
Kelp or Algae·Animal casings (e.g. crab, shrimp molt)·Shells·Small rocks
New Development:
Modifications:
See above
Natural Changes:
Dunes are higher and wider than ever before.
Comments:
We removed to crab floats.
Summary:
Saw what appeared to be perhaps a dozen Harbor Seals in the surf at the mouth of the New River and several solitary ones and one pair we took to be a mother and pup further south. A minimum driftline with very little kelp, some shells/sand dollars, crab carapaces, rocks and two crab floats. Cormorants and pelicans flying over the ocean. A few Sanderlings on the beach. Bald Eagle flying over New River. Only sign of other people was some government style stakes in the dry sand up near the mouth of the New River, probably having to do with the Snowy Plover.
Other Mile 95 Reports (16)

2013

November 23, 2013 - John Hull
Unusual number of people, saw what we took to be a family of three walking south along the west bank of the New River and a fisherman, first seen walking north, then in the water at the mouth of the...
June 19, 2013 - John Hull
Beach fairly clean, occasional pieces of bull kelp and a frilly kelp on the wet sand. The European Beachgrass on the dunes was dead, apparently the result of being sprayed with teal-colored...

2012

November 4, 2012 - John Hull
Saw a large pelican with an injured wing and at least three (but probably more) pinnipeds in the New River near where it joins the sea. Beach was pertty clean. There was less driftwood than in the...

2011

September 18, 2011 - John Hull
Saw one pinniped in the surf and found a dead Steller's Sea Lion about eight feet long on the dry sand. Shells, animal casings, jellies and pieces of jellies, piles of Bull Kelp, small rocks and...
April 3, 2011 - John Hull
Driftline very clean, no jellies, less than a dozen pieces of mussel and crab shells, some small wood pieces, virtually no seaweed. At least five pinnipeds swimming in New River near its mouth. New...

2010

October 29, 2010 - John Hull
Two guys with two fishing rods on ATV. I thought that beach was off limits to ATVs. Some jellies, mussel shells and crab parts. Large clumps of Bull Kelp. Two types of gulls as well as two flocks...
April 25, 2010 - John Hull
No people save ourselves. Unusually large amount of driftwood on the dry sand. Lots of little pieces of wood at edge of the water (first time I've seen that). Kelp/algae, small rocks, Styrofoam...

2009

September 15, 2009 - [email protected]
Animal casings, kelp/algae and ocean-based debris in the driftline. About 30 Snowy Plover feeding with Sanderlings near surfline. Low human impact (1)-BLM ATV carrying Snowy Plover exclosures to...
September 3, 2009 - [email protected]
Animal casings, kelp/algae and ocean-based debris in driftline. About 40 Sanderlings foraging by water's edge. One dead sea lion reported to Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Low human...

2008

September 22, 2008 - [email protected]
The European Beachgrass is moving north and building sand dunes with the progression. BLM had bulldozed the dunes in 2002 and pushed the beach grass into the ocean. It's back and doing quite well. My...
  • Birds at Two Mile Creek and New River ocean mouth
July 2, 2008 - [email protected]
I crossed New River at the Lower Four Mile trail end. The water was about 18 inches deep; the river must be breached south of Lower Four Mile Creek. The mud was soft, but the water was fairly clear....

2007

November 2, 2007 - [email protected]
I accessed the beach from the north end of Roaring Surf Lane trail. New River was about 8 inches deep, walked south along New River to the end of Bandon State Park and crossed the dunes to the ocean...
  • New River and Two Mile Creek convergance looking north from Mile 95
  • Beached Northern Elephant Seal, south end of Mile 95 at the high tide line
  • Northern Elephant Seal
October 2, 2007 - [email protected]
I crossed New River at Four Mile Creek Trail, the water was 29" deep. The river bottom was hard sand. I walked North along mile 94 to access mile 95. There were a lot of shore birds (gulls and...
May 19, 2007 - [email protected]
The trail to New River was dry. The New River water level was lower than I have seen it in 5 years, my socks didn't even get wet on the crossing. Last weeks winds had pushed waves topping the dune on...
March 11, 2007 - [email protected]
I accessed mile 95 from the Lower Four Mile trail Sunday 3/11/07. One-third of the trail to New River was under water from runoff. The depth was as deep as 18" in a couple places. The water level in...
  • 12 foot 4x4
  • Tracks identified as Red Fox
March 4, 2007 - [email protected]
I attempted access from the Lower Four Mile access Saturday 3/3/07. One-third of the trail to New River was under flowing water from runoff. The depth was as deep as 18" in a couple places. The water...