Until the blueberries, this walk was all about sounds–the typical coast forest early morning symphony: complaints, mostly gulls but sometimes an eagle drying its wings; the distant jack hammer sound of a red breasted sapsucker; a slightly off key bird song (not the bell clear tones of Robin); buzzing of the cruising bumblebee; gentle shushing of small wave action on a gravel beach; wet slaps of rain charged plant leaves hitting my cotton pant legs. All this builds to the crescendo finale delivered by a flight of old radial engine float planes on the morning run to Pack Creek—loaded with cruise ship tourists hopeful to see Alaska Brown Bears.
With my ears still ringing with airplane noise I follow Aki to where she growls at a fallen hemlock across the trail. “This is new,” I say in part to let Aki know there is no danger. We’ve had no storms since our last use of this trail so I wonder what delivered the coup de gras to this rotten tree; perhaps it was the pressure applied by a scratching bear or simply a yielding of the few fibers still holding the hemlock upright. I start to tell Aki the riddle about a tree falling in an empty forest but remember she has heard it before.
Late in the hike we reach the a patch of load bearing blueberry bushes, fruit just ripe. For weeks I’ve stalked the early setting Salmon Berry, find only empty or picked clean bushes. Here I am at the opening day of blue berry season. Is this karma rewarded or just luck? It matters little for the berries yield crisp sweetness that define an Alaska summer as much as the salmon, eagle, whale, and industrial tourism.