Beach Walk in the Dark


Our friends from Sitka could be home in 40 minutes if they took the plane. Instead they chose the Alaska Marine Highway MV Taku, which won’t reach Sitka for 16 hours.  We dropped then at the ferry terminal long before sunrise and then walked the edge of a wide crescent shaped beach in the dark.  Last night’s flood tide wiped the beach clean of snow so we are left with the choice of walking on dark sand or the snow brightened forest trail. We take the trail at first, thankful to have it to ourselves.

Later we drop onto the beach and listen to ducks complain near the surf line. Aki ignores then but I listen, trying to determine if they are exchanging information or expressions of frustration that we woke them up at this unnatural hour. The sea begins to carry reflective light—enough to allow us to spot a couple of seals cruising just off shore.

We can’t expect true daylight for hours yet but the morning dusk is winning it battle with the night and soon we can spot islands and low tide reefs as well as the horizon. Eagles stir in the growing light and move off in search of a morning meal.

For a brief moment we alone share this beach country with winter hardy gulls and two harlequin ducks.  Then, offshore the Le Conte ferry moves up Lynn Canal on a run to Haines, bright electric light pouring from its forward lounge. When it moves out of sight we have only the grayness of a stretching day spiced with white flakes of falling snow.

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