Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (Kayak) 10-12-2013

The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (NNWR) looks like a fantastic place!  Put it on your list to visit sometime soon (when there isn't a Federal furlough)!

My dad and I met up one day long ago (Oct 12, 2013) to explore the NNWR by kayak.  Unfortunately for us, we didn't realize our selection of dates coincided with the opening day of duck hunting season.  Keep that in mind if you opt to retrace our steps (paddles, actually).

A little Googling led us to the Luhr Beach Boat Launch which appeared to be the launch closest to the NNWR.  It's also a boat launch that duck hunters like to use.  Pro:  We learned about opening day.  Con: The launch was a bit busy, being used by folks with guns.  And Boats.  And Camoflauge.  And dogs.

We launched our boats shortly after high tide and made our way out to the NNWR area, trying to steer clear of areas where the hunters may be congregating.

Weather was fantastic and paddling was pleasant.  We were fighting a bit of a current in some places but our efforts seemed to result in reasonable progress.

There are a lot of little sand and grass islands in the area and depending on the tides it is possible to get yourself land locked or high centered in one of these little sloughs as the tide recedes.  It was neat to paddle in and out of these passages although we encountered dead ends a few times which necessitated a turn-around.  At times we found ourselves paddling in very shallow waters... possibly a 12 inches deep or less.

The NNWR bridge or walkway is very impressive.  That thing just seemed to go on and on forever... must be at least two miles of elevated walking on that thing. The structure alone would make a visit worthwhile in my opinion.

Signs along the bottom on the bridge/walkway indicated watercraft are not allowed in the NNWR protected areas so we remained on our approach side.  Instead of heading back to Luhr, we opted to paddle up McAllister Creek for a ways.  It was a scenic area, and seemingly completely free of hunters.  The hunters must have all been congregating on the east side of the NNWR; we were completely on our own out there.

A return visit at low tide would be fantastic.  Hopefully we could coordinate it with a 'on foot' exploration of the NNWR while we are in the neighborhood.

Happy Paddling!


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