Beaches and Bluffs

Midsummer, hot, sunny and still only two or three families are using this beach.  With the tide out, it forms a broad sloping border between sea and the spruce forest that has grown over the old Native village site.  Aki chases her frisbee while we pass the canoe haul out ground. This space, now covered with flowering shrubs and berry brush once accommodated large ocean going canoes formed from huge red cedar logs. Fast and stable, they could carry subsistence harvesters, hunters, or warriors quickly to their goal. Canoes from here in 1794 scared Captain Vancouver’s men of the Royal Navy into a retreat to the back side of Admiralty Island.

Today the beach is clean, swept by the solstice tide. Only Aki’s tracks and those of shore birds mar the canvas of sand. Small waves touch the beach in groups of threes and fives, giving a family of children an excuse to squeal.

Moving on we head for a lunch on the Eagle Scout bench at Lena Point. Here the Princess Kathleen, on its way to Skagway sank in 1952. It was a beautiful, well maintained ship with a bow line dropping straight to sea and triple stacks amidships. Too bad it was poorly handled on the night it wrecked.

Only a small buoy bag, attached by rope to the wreck, marks the Princess’ grave. Wild geraniums, now showing translucent purple blue flowers line the cliff above the wreck as if left by mourners   Over the site a school of salmon give away their location with multiple leaps into the air. On returning to sea from each jump they shatter the glistening calm of water at slack tide. From here we could have watched the Captain Vancouver’s long boat running for Admiralty Island.

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