Monday, June 6, 2011

Water, water, everywhere

Ocean and creeks shape the landscape

Water is a very powerful force that shapes parts of the Lost Coast all year round. This was especially evident after this weekend’s storm. Creeks swell with water during rainstorms, giving them extra power to shift the sands. Here at Gitchell Creek, when the tide went out, the creek made its own path through the sand to reach the ocean any way possible. The raging creek can blast a new path through the sand or just seep through the sand and come out just below the water line (above).

Be sure to take a tide chart out on the trail with you. I recommend hiking the “impassible during high tide zones” when the tide is a) 3.5 feet or lower and b) on a receding tide (after a high tide has passed). To approximate the height of a current tide some math is needed but stay with me. First, find out how many hours are between the low and high tide, or vice versa, then subtract the height of the high tide from the low tide. Take those two numbers and divide difference in feet by difference in hours. That gives you the amount of change in the tide height per hour. For example: If a low tide of 0 feet is at noon and it will be high tide at 6 P.M. up to 6 feet, that’s 6 feet divided 6 hours then you can estimate that the tide level will increase one foot every hour until it is 6 PM. Another factor that contributes to high water level, and no beach to hike on, is swell. You can check wave height at the NOAA’s National Weather Service website: and click on the region around Cape Mendocino.

Plan ahead and take care of yourselfs,

Backcountry Ranger Brianna

No comments:

Post a Comment