What an awesome place Assateague can be.
On Friday as we hiked the 4 miles along the beach to our beachside campsite at Little Levels & a certain calm came upon us. The weather was chill but not cold, the North wind was upon our back, the angular sun poked in and out of scattered clouds. The dolphins entertained as they played just beyond the breaking waves and the wild ponies and sika deer grazed around the dunes. After establishing our camp between the dunes, we collected driftwood, greeted the approaching evening with a campfire and cooked our fajitas along the edge of the tideline. The full Moon lit the sky as we sat back and relaxed.
Saturday morning arrived with a beautiful clear sunrise and we set about cooking breakfast. As we broke camp the North wind began to strengthen. We split into two groups and the hikers continued South to Pine Tree while I hiked back North to Northbeach. This time I encountered several groups of horseback trail riders who were also enjoying the beach. Upon arriving at the Northbeach lot I shuttled the canoe and gear over to Ferry Landing, loaded the boat and launched into the bay. The North winds blew steadily at 15 to 20, the horses grazed along the marshes, the sun was strong, the sky clear and ever so big. Autumn is truly a beautiful season. After a couple of hours of play I arrived at Pine Tree and my shore partners made short work of unloading the boat.
The sunset Saturday eve was quite impressive but the best was yet to come. Near sunset we began to prepare our stew and few hours later as we sat for dinner we were treated to a superbly clear view of the eclipse. We ate, talked but mostly watched the celestial event. The sky darkened incrementally as the shade of the Earth progressed across the Moon. Finally the Moon was fully shrouded and began to appear to glow red and the stars became quite brilliant. By the time the Moon re-emerged we'd cleaned camp and the brilliance of the full Moon in the clear sky called for a night hike across the marshes and back to the beach for another look at the ocean.
Sunday morning greeted us with a bit less North wind, a bit more chill and some puffy clouds. After a lazy morning, we broke camp, loaded most of the gear into my canoe and parted ways to meet again at Ferry Landing. The one thought we shared was that it was too bad we'd not planned to spend more time than the few three days we'd set aside. We pushed off and traveled into the wind for a couple more hours of play & freedom...
I'm certainly anxious to get back down to Assateague on the 21st for another go round (I might even entertain staying another day or two beyond the 23rd). Due to camp restrictions, the first nine paddlers are welcome to join me on the 12 mile paddle to Pope Bay (based on online and offline responses I've tentative reservations for 5 other paddlers).
Bay conditions can vary form easy to difficult depending on the strength and direction of the winds. Winds most often will present a moderated challenge due to strength and resulting chop. Use your own best judgement.
Backcountry Camping, fire rings and porta-pot bayside, sand and porta-pot oceanside (open fires allowed oceanside within tideline). Four bayside camps and two oceanside camps. Carcamping loops also available. All water and most firewood should be ported to the campsite.
$10 park entrance fee, $5 backcountry permit (loop camping is a fee)
Rt 50 south to 113 south (until Berlin MD) right onto 376 east and right onto 611 (follow 611 to the Assateague Island National Seashore entrance station.
Current Topo map is essential(although sandy shores & islands do shift) & Compass would be very helpful. GPS highly recommended if coastal navigation skills are not well honed. GMRS radio if travelling by groups.