It takes three sets of footwear to make his hike—one pair of street shoes for driving, hiking boots, and rubber ExtaTuffs for trail portions flooded by the beavers. Joined by a friend, Aki and I make our way down a slippery boardwalk trail that dumps us onto a muddy track through old growth woods. We don’t mind the mud. Aki manages to skirt the worst and my rubber boots make me impervious to the stuff.
We glimpse flowering lily pads dotting an arm of the beaver pond just before the trails leads onto a large open meadow, now watched over by an eagle air drying his wings. Again the rubber boots serve me well, now to cross large stretches of flooded trail.
We’ve missed the height of the wild flower bloom but fireweed blooms and stalks of white arctic cotton dominate much of the meadow. Crossing a berm raised across the meadow by a long gone homesteader we find the excavations of the local brown bears (AKA grizzlies) where they have ripped up the meadow in a search for tasty roots. We’re heading for a stream with faint hope to catch some pink salmon. If they are ready to leave salt water for the fresh waters of the birth, the tide hasn’t raised the water level at the stream’s bar high enough to admit the seals, the bears are sleeping, we should catch some fish.
Unfortunately the seals managed to enter the creek waters before us and now splash and slam the water, growl and gurgle bubbles in the stream—all designed to drive the salmon toward their hungry chums. All is not lost. We catch smaller, taster Dollie Varden char and there are the marmots.
We didn’t seen the big gray rodents — think guinea pigs with long lush tails—when we arrived. A menacing gang of eagles held the high ground but yielded on our approach. In seconds four or five marmots took the eagle’s spots on tall rocks. I expected them to dash to safety but they held their ground, feigning disinterest. Have they learned to tolerate our presence because we keep away the eagles? They sure acted like it.