Ice still was clinging to shore, but there was some available rock on the beach in patches.
No ice or snow: beach completely open for agate hunting.
The beach was mostly still covered in ice.
The snow and ice had already melted: the beach was completely open for agate hunting (in Grand Marais and east of town; not in the national park, of course).
I guess I didn't get any beach photos in late March last year, but I did take the photo below out of my sun porch. Although the snow pile/drift on the south side of my house is higher this year--last year was very close.
The pile is higher this year. At this point the beach is still mostly snowed in. I will head down the beach in the days and weeks to come and report back on available first-rock.