Walking past the remnants of the bond fires built by underaged drinkers we leave the Camping Cove trail head and move into a lush alder forest. After passing down a steep dirt path lined with wet berry brush we follow wooden steps to the beach. The tide is out exposing great fields of blue mussel colonies to the Paynes Grey color sky.
The Juneau gill net fleet idles off shore waiting for the Sockeye Salmon commercial opening. It comes in an hour. Aki appears to sniff a Lupine blossom as I apply mosquito repellant. Fool me once shame on you bugs but fool me twice, shame on me. Yesterday the shame was on you.
We passed through here last on a hard winter’s day with enough snow on the ground to show animal tracks. Today sandy mud exposed by the tide reveals the crisp tracks of a deer so small it must still have fawn spots. I look up wondering if we can find her at tree line, breathing hard but find only a Horary Marmot watching us from a rocky headland. He’s a cool customer, apparently reluctant to reveal his position by giving out the shrill warning cry of his kind. Aki is too low to see his fluffy body fur and long tail moving along the high tide line before breaking into the woods.
Taking advantage of ground exposed by the minus tide we stay outside of the woods and work around a couple of headlands toward the next pocket beach north. An eagle calls out as its mate approaches without anything in his talons. I fancy she is scolding him for wasting time watching baseball at the Imperial Bar while she is stuck at home listening to demands of their hungary chicks. He answers as a supplicant but I know things won’t go well for him when he hits the nest.
Two whales break the surface nearby but a rock outcropping blocks them from view and I can only listen to them exhaling. Then the gill netters fire up their diesel engines and head out into Lynn Canal. Just before returning to the forest for the return trip we watch one of the fishing boats make a set by releasing its deep net to form a long straight wall in the sockeye’s path. A young deck hand cheers as the first salmon hit the net, making its floats dance. Soon another season’s promise will be in the gillnetter’s hold.