Combing the peninsula — tips for beachcombing

June Searcy-Josten, of Happy Valley, gears up for a day of beachcombing in the cold wind with a large bag for driftwood and smaller bags for miscellaneous shells and rocks. (Photo courtesy/June Searcy-Josten)

June Searcy-Josten, of Happy Valley, gears up for a day of beachcombing in the cold wind with a large bag for driftwood and smaller bags for miscellaneous shells and rocks. (Photo courtesy/June Searcy-Josten)

The beaches of the Kenai Peninsula are a treasure trove to those who are willing to keep their head down.

Beachcombing in the area doesn’t come with a rulebook and any beach walker can turn into a beachcomber just by moving their eyes away from Mount Redoubt and the horizon to check out what is hiding in the sand beneath them.

“Any beach spot you can get to down this way has its own unique goodies from year to year,” said June Searcy-Josten of Happy Vally. “It’s never the same, depending on the waves, storms and the changing tides.”

June has been combing the beaches of Alaska since moving to the state 38 years ago, and has been walking the beaches of the peninsula as often as possible since moving to Happy Valley eight years ago.

“I’ve beachcombed on this peninsula every time we camped down here,” June said. “Now, I live just a couple miles from my favorite spot and I’m on the beach whenever time and weather permits.”

Beach combing is an interpretive endeavor, since beauty is in the eye of the beholder. From shells to glass and everything in between, a beachcomber is sure to find something that piques their interest.

“It’s never the same, depending on the waves, storms and the changing tides,” June said. “I love all the things I find — driftwood, shells, seaweeds, seaglass …”

June recommends taking a walk to beachcomb when the tides are minus tides and the wind isn’t blowing too much.

“We normally always have a breeze of sorts,” she said. “But more sand in the face is not fun.”

As for area recommendations, June organizes her favorite beaches by what she usually finds while combing them.

“Ninilchik beach, seaglass and rocks. Deep Creek has smaller shells, driftwood, rocks and seaweeds,” June said. “Anchor Point, larger white shells and some smaller ones, also driftwood. And all Homer beach areas have white limpets, miscellaneous shells and seaglass, on rare occasions, and driftwood.”

She also recommends bringing along a large bag for any driftwood and a couple of smaller bags to carry tiny shells and miscellaneous rocks.

“Our tides are rarely just slowly rolling in waves,” June said. “They are crashing waves, so finding good shells in good condition is a treasure as most are broken and chopped up.”

June does warn those looking for a pleasant beach combing walk to stay away from busy, summer weekends.

“I’ll go to any of those beaches when I’m around that area but not when it’s a weekend that summer tourists are camping with the four-wheelers,” June said. “They trash up the tide lines where driftwood and seaweed collects.”

The best part of beachcombing is deciding what to do with the finds. Whether it’s for a collection, a souvenir or for the latest and greatest piece of art, where a beachcomber’s treasures end up is half the fun according to June, who makes different types of jewelry with her finds.

“My special finds are shells I can use in jewelry, a nice large shell not broken up,” June said. “I also love driftwood that has a shape that looks like an animal, something cool looking.”

Each find is unique and anything that she decides to pick up has a special meaning, June said.

“I do love all things I find,” she said. “It’s like therapy to the soul, to walk on the beach and collect what Mother Nature has left there for me.”

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

June Searcy-Josten, of Happy Valley, piles some of her beachcombed finds at Anchor Point beach earlier this summer. The smaller shells are perfect for earrings according to Searcy-Josten. (Photo courtesy/June Searcy-Josten)

June Searcy-Josten, of Happy Valley, piles some of her beachcombed finds at Anchor Point beach earlier this summer. The smaller shells are perfect for earrings according to Searcy-Josten. (Photo courtesy/June Searcy-Josten)

More in Life

This classic chicken pot pie is a great way to use up the last handfuls of frozen peas and sad potatoes in the pantry. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Making the most of mistakes

Forgotten coats and repeated recipes are no match for soothing chicken pot pie

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: This and that

Organizations are running out of people to keep them going

This Al Hershberger photo of his good friend Hedley Parsons was taken in Germany in 1945, after World War II had ended. Parsons and Hershberger came to Alaska together a few years later, and in 2010, when Parsons was interviewed for this story, he may have been the last person living who had actually attended George Dudley’s messy funeral
This parting was not sweet sorrow — Part 2

The funeral was scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 5, and spring break-up was in full, sloppy bloom at the Kenai Cemetery

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
A copy of “People, Paths, and Places: The Frontier History of Moose Pass, Alaska” stands in sunlight in Soldotna on Friday.
Off the Shelf: Community history project a colorful portrait of hometown

The book features the work of students at Moose Pass School and integrates further stories pulled from a community newspaper

The Anchorage Bowl Chamber Orchestra performs. (Photo courtesy Anchorage Bowl Chamber Orchestra)
Anchorage orchestra group to visit Kenai Peninsula for 10th annual tour

Anchorage Bowl Chamber Orchestra will play four shows from May 30 to June 2

File
Minister’s Message: Boasting only in Christ and the Cross

The Reverend Billy Graham advised every president since Truman during his lifetime

Corn cheese is served alongside grilled beef, kimchi and lettuce. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Planning barbecue with all the bells and whistles

Expect kimchi, lots of side dishes, piles of rice, marinated meat for the flame and cold fruit for dessert

Noa (voiced by Owen Teague) in 20th Century Studios’ “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.” (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios)
On the Screen: New ‘Planet of the Apes’ expands, brings new ideas to franchise universe

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” tells a story that feels more rooted in fantasy than the post-apocalypse vibe of its predecessors

A mural depicting imagery and iconography of Kenai brightens the entryway of the Walmart in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Visible art raises people’s spirits’

Local artist’s mural introduced as part of Walmart renovations

Most Read