Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Assateague Island (MD/VA), September 20-21

Hurricane Igor made for
rough surf and rip tides
Assateague Island National Seashore is a barrier island off the Delmarva Peninsula.  It spans 2 states, Maryland and Virginia.  I came in from the north as that is where the campgrounds are located. 
One of the wild horses

Assateague Island is probably most famous for its wild horses.

The wild horses on the northern Maryland end of the island are managed like wild animals.  That is, the NPS allows nature to take care of itself.  The only interventions they provide is putting a dying horse out of its suffering, and an innovative birth control program to keep these non-native horses from destroying the island's environment.
View of Chincoteague Bay
from Bayside Camp Ground

Recent genetic testing has debunked the folklore that the first horses swam to the island from a shipwrecked Spanish ship.  The real story is that colonists put the first horses on this island to avoid being taxed on them.  To be sure though, there are hundreds of ship wrecks off this island.

I decided to camp on the bayside of the island because it was both quieter and more private.  However, at dusk I had visitors to my campsite.  A small band of horses browsed their way through.  See the video below of one of the horses scratching itself on a tree.
A few of the wild horses
 at my Bayside Campsite

And, because the island is so narrow, I could still hear the surf as I slept.

The next day I traveled to the southern, Virginia end of the island.  To get there, visitors must drive around, off the island.

A different herd of horses live on the south end of the island.  They are owned by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department and are managed like livestock instead of wild animals.  Once each year there's a round up where the horses swim across the bay for veterinarian care and to sell off some of the fouls to pay for the herd's care.
Cranes flying and fishing

Near Tom's Cove, at the far southern end of Assateague, I saw lots of birds in the salt marsh.
Surf was still rough on
day 2 on the southern end

My next destination is another NPS site and another barrier island, Cape Hatteras.

originally posted 10/25/10

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