Princess of Tides — Hunting Island, South Carolina, Part II.

IMG_3477Zoe was bred to be a water dog.  And she is true to her breed, following her nose to any body of water large enough for a swim.  But in Alaska, she mostly swam in fresh water and did not have many opportunities to be an ocean beach bum.  She was blissful during our week on Hunting Island–salty, soggy, and smiling–with twice-daily romps in the waves–often with no one else around.

Hunting Island-117We all spent most of our time on the beach.  It was about four miles long and wasn’t just an ordinary stretch of sand.  The more we walked, the more we discovered.  The campground was near the north end of the beach and a walk to the north often meant solitude.

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Looking north at low tide.  Just Zoe.

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Curve where north end meets the estuary

After about half a mile the beach ends, curving around into the tidal estuary.  There were lots of shells, and some sand dollars and sharks’ teeth.  We saw a few horseshoe crabs, which intrigued Zoe.

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You can see the crab legs working--a push up and forward, then hunker down.

These prehistoric-looking crabs move ponderously.  The legs push the shell up, stalky eyes peer ahead, it scoots forward a bit, then hunkers down, to slowly repeat the process.

Where the campground abutted the beach, there often were several people shore casting and they were actually catching fish.  So were the dolphins, which trolled back and forth offshore, accompanied by gulls, in what looked like fertile fishing grounds.

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A redfish. I was told it was too big to keep because it’s spawning size.

Heading south on the beach, there was a sandy expanse inshore with a minnow-rich marsh pond, a resident egret, scores of crabs, and deer and raccoon tracks crisscrossing the sand.

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But the most intriguing part of the beach was the drowned forest, where the sea has encroached on the trees, leaving a ghostly landscape of the skeletons of palms, pines, and hardwoods surrounded by sand and water.

Hunting Island-103Hunting Island-115Hunting Island-120Hunting Island-116Hunting Island-406Except at full low tide, it was difficult to round the point of live trees bordering the drowned forest, so we would take a path through the woods to get to the next part of the beach.

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The path’s tall trees were full of woodpeckers and one day while watching the birds, I startled two good-sized beetles rolling a dog turd down the center of the path, trying to navigate the roots. I felt like I was watching a Nature Channel show on African dung beetles.

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It was utterly fascinating.  They worked together quite effectively and had gnats hitchhiking on their backs, apparently waiting for their turn at the table.  We found that quite a few people at Hunting Island did not clean up after their dogs.  A shame, but, in this case, it made some beetles and gnats very happy.

The path was short, leading back to the beach and the Hunting Island lighthouse.  A black and white beauty–it’s open to the public for a bargain price of $2.00.

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IMG_3548During the week we were there, the caretakers were trying to kill wasps that had nested on the top near the light.  As we ascended the steps the smell of insecticide got stronger and the surviving wasps were still swarming around the outside walkway at the top.  It made the trip up a little extra exciting.  George ran up and down the nine flights of steps for exercise several times during the week.
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Window almost at the top

Window view — almost to the top

Spectacular views from the top

Above the trees at the top

Emerging from the lighthouse area, there are many more miles of beach, strung right along the dense palm and pine forest.  It was just stunning.

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Sandcastle on walk headed south

Sandcastle on walk headed south

And an hour later on the way back

And an hour later on the way back almost erased by the tide

We never made it all the way to the southern end of the beach.

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Sunrise

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Low tide, high tide, it’s all good to Zoe.

8 thoughts on “Princess of Tides — Hunting Island, South Carolina, Part II.

  1. I always feel like you have taken me, vicariously, on your wonderful jaunts. As always, your photos are spectacular and informative. We are definitely inspired by Travels with Zoe…thank you.

    • You are more than welcome. I really appreciate your comments–it’s nice to know that you are following along. The blog doesn’t even capture all the good eating, cooking, and reading we do. Perhaps you and Bill should buy that RV you’ve been thinking about and meet up with us somewhere in New Mexico!

  2. Wonderful post. I love Your set of photos with so many different scenes. Tide is to me nearly unknown. In Finland we do not have it. Best photos are from Zoe!

    Happy weekend.

    • Thanks for your kind words. This beach was a photography dream because so much changed with the tides and the shapes and colors were so striking. It was hard to chose which photos to include. But we always like to include Zoe!

      Happy weekend to you, too.

  3. Zoe was certainly in Labrador heaven and well done George running up and down 9 flights of stairs, made me tired to just think of it… Those dead trees make for hauntingly beautiful sunset photos

    • George loved running the steps–such an amazing setting for exercise. I walked them … The photos of the dead trees actually were taken at sunrise. We had colorful sunrises and sunsets almost every day there and those dead trees were really something special.

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