By Robin Stanton, Senior Media Relations Manager

It’s a party like no other, a uniquely Puget Soundish adventure. Once each summer, a clan of paddlers sets out to be marooned for the day on a secret Skagit beach uncovered by the low tide.

We launch onto one of the tendrils of the Skagit South Fork as it makes its way out into the Sound. A motley assortment of canoes and kayaks, packed with kids and dogs and happy adults, floats out on the ebb current, easing over the sandy bottom of a channel that will be high and dry a few minutes after we pass.

A 45- minute paddle and we beach, dragging the boats up to make camp on the highest spot on this temporary island of sand in the midst of Skagit Bay. Kids and dogs spill out and zoom off to dig in the sand, wade in the water, search for sand shrimp and build epic sand castles.

Out come the coolers, Frisbees, shade tarps, a volleyball net. My husband and I, having neither children nor dogs, sit and sip our coffee and watch the scene unfold. Out here on the Skagit estuary, you can see the connection between land and water—it’s an evershifting, permeable boundary. I’m so proud of the work I support at The Nature Conservancy, which supports the whole system, from the forested foothills through farmlands and the river valley out to Puget Sound.

Today, we can enjoy the company, or turn and walk out onto the sand, exploring the pools left behind. Some days it seems like you could walk clear to Camano Island. Sea lions are hauled out on another distant sandbar. Dunlin swoop and swirl overhead.

It’s enforced relaxation – there is no leaving early, no running errands. There is just the beach and waiting for the tide. For four or five hours—no one really knows exactly how long.

“Is it coming?” “I think it’s coming!” “Not yet….” “Maybe it’s time….”

Everything goes back in the boats. Kids are building a bigger and bigger sand mound, creating their own island, trying to make it last a little longer.

Watch what happens as the tide comes in!

And then the tide comes in and we paddle home. Till next summer.

Your gifts to The Nature Conservancy will help ensure that rivers and sand bars in Puget Sound are clean and healthy and continue to support the wide variety of life that makes this place so spectacular.