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Bear Island Camping

posted Aug 27, 2012, 1:04 PM by Justin P
It was Sandy's birthday this past weekend and we celebrated it at the beach on Bear Island at Hammocks Beach State Park. I think this is my favorite beach in North Carolina - the limited amenities and having to take a boat to the island really cuts back on the number of people on the beach and provides for a much more tranquil beach experience. We arrived at the park visitor center in the afternoon, checked in, and got our ferry passes to ride over to the island. Waiting for the ferry, it started to rain, but just a light drizzle. It was still raining when we arrived on the island, so we quickly hiked up to the bath house for shelter. Hoping for the rain to let up, we waited for a while, but it didn't look like we were going to get a break. I took the tent out of my backpack and hurried to campsite 4 to set up the tent quickly. Then I went back and we hiked the rest of the stuff in and quickly got in the tent. It was raining heavily now and the tent was slightly leaking, so we used a tarp and a sun shelter to cover the tent and managed to stay dry for the night, even as the rain and wind got stronger throughout the night. It was quite a storm - the lightning was making a fabulous light show in the night sky. But we did not leave the shelter of our tent again that night.

By morning, the storm had cleared, but there was still cloud cover over most of the sky. We ate a quick breakfast and took a walk on the beach towards the northeast end of the island. Not far down the beach, we saw what at first looked like an oyster shell. But it was moving and seemed to have legs. It was an almost black baby loggerhead sea turtle making his way to the ocean. He was very cute, waving his little flippers trying to move forward in the wet sand. But flippers are made for swimming not moving. And the waves were crashing in on him, pushing him in and then back out. After a bit, we gave him a little help and moved him past where the waves were crashing so he could swim out to sea on his own.

YouTube Video

We continued down the beach as the sun starting poking through the clouds. At the northeastern end of the island, some people had come in on a private boat, and we saw some egrets in the marshy lagoon area. Then we headed back towards our campsite and played in the waves and the sand. After swimming a bit, we made sand sculptures of a turtle, mermaid, and dolphin. The turtle got washed away a bit because we didn't make him past the high tide line. In the evening, we headed down to the southwest end of the island and had a sunset dinner on the sand. Unfortunately, some pesky flying insects made it difficult to eat, so we went closer to the shore and away from the bugs. There wasn't much of a breeze to keep the bugs away, but they weren't present by the water's edge. We ate dinner, including a camping cheesecake meal for Sandy's birthday. Then we went back to the bath house and took a warm shower before retiring for the night.

In the morning, we broke camp and brought all of our stuff over the dunes in preparation for leaving. But we stuck around for a while to enjoy the beach for a while before leaving. We walked up and down the beach collecting shells and even found a couple of unbroken sand dollars. But no more sea turtles. We heard that the day before, three baby turtles fell in a hole in the sand and couldn't get out. Luckily, someone notified the rangers who helped them make it to the sea. By late morning, we decided it was time to go. We had gotten a little sun-burned the day before and the bright sun today was irritating. So we carried our stuff back across the beach and up to the bath house and then down to the ferry dock. While waiting for the ferry, we saw an anole and a mantis at the shelter. Once back on the mainland, we packed up the car and headed home.