Beach Friends

The past couple months were an incredible introduction to summer on the Alaska Peninsula. To that end, I’ve tried to enjoy Port Heiden’s wilds as much as possible.

The beach is probably my favorite summertime haunt so far. As August is typically the start to Port Heiden’s autumn season, I figured I’d start this first week of continuous posts by sharing some coastal fun.

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Grassy dunes and black sand beaches at sunset

Port Heiden’s beaches are stunning and full of surprises. The grass-covered dunes leading up to the coast are a hoot to traverse, especially since they’re teeming with plant and animal life.

Eagles tend to be great company. They like to sit atop the bluffs and commiserate together, occasionally swooping off to grab a fish or seabird. On super windy days, their aerial dances take on the frantic chaos of survivalism.

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A juvenile bald eagle cruises for fish

The summer fishing season typically starts in June and goes through July, though some commercial operations run into August. It’s all nebulous and entirely dependent on salmon runs. The sockeye (red salmon) have been running strong this year and a little fleet was camped out at the river mouths south of Port Heiden for most of July.

As you approach the beach, abrupt noises carry across the water and allude to the chaos aboard each ship. Engines erratically rumble as captains place their vessels in optimal positions to fill their nets. Occasional shouts or laughter remind you that crews are hard at work or hardly working. Faint wisps of diesel exhaust or fishy fumes get carried to shore by the salty wind coming in from the Bering Sea.

Visually, it’s a slow, beautiful dance to behold. The ships rotate positions and execute little turns and swivels to place their nets with exactitude.

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A friendly fleet of Meshik River mariners

Sometimes, the beach yields surprises.

Special treasures or horrors can emerge from the sands and make the day a little stranger than before. Tune in tomorrow for beach randomness galore. Thanks for reading.

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