This morning breaks gray but dry. Wanting to avoid another slog through soft snow I park the Subaru next to Egan’s Expressway and head onto the wetlands. We walk over thawing grass lands drained by narrow channels. One channel is decorated with red rocks as if just visited by Andy Goldsworthy. The tide is out so we could walk all the way to Douglas Island but stop at the edge of a diminished Gasteneau Channel.
In one day users of these wetlands may enjoy wide spaces created by a minus 3.7 foot low tide but would have to protect themselves from the effects of a high tide of over 19 feet. Aki loves the broad stretches of dry sand exposed at low tide, running circles at top speed. She doesn’t know that if we stayed six hours she would drown under the 17 feet of salt water that will cover almost all the land we crossed to reached her sandy playground.
Others exploit low tide today. Hundreds of Canada Geese, chased from Lemon Creek fly noisily over our heads. Shortly after a big flock of mallards stirs and a handful of Rock Sandpipers flies close by. Aki watches all but does not chase.
We explore two islands of old moraine thick with spruce, that form battlements above the wetlands. During high tide land animals find refuge here while eagles rest on the trees. A single coyote track shows recent passage through the spruce.
The islands also provide a refuge from the muted wetland colors by offering the dark tones of Sitka Spruce and the fresher greens of low growing broad leafed plants emerging from melting snow. More strong greens shine from the mosses that break down stranded drift wood and cover dwarfed alder trees.
Checking my watch and the water level we head back to the car. On our way three adult bald eagles form one circle of flight while an immature one flies alone. The now rising wind that bothers Aki just adds to their dance.