beachThe appearance of bare pavement on Chicken Ridge didn’t surprise me this morning. Yesterday a warm, wet storm melted our beautiful blanket of snow off the ridge. This morning I hung up the snow shovel and took the little dog to one of the North Douglas trails.

The storm hosed off this area too so we had easy walking on a thin layer of melting snow. The fresh tracks of a wolf that had climbed up a seldom-used side trail surprised me. Hunters have been complaining about a wolf pack hammering the deer on Douglas Island. Is this the track of one of their scouts? I can’t find the tracks of a panicked deer or rabbit.

rainbow         A large raft of goldeneye ducks and scoters move nervously away from shore when as we reach the beach. Behind them a rainbow arcs up and away from Shaman Island and then fades to gray.

whale         The day’s last surprise comes on the ride home when we spot a lone humpback whale feeding near Smuggler’s Cove. It is rare to see any whales this time of year. All the fertile humpbacks are in Maui or on their way to that breeding ground. But on a December day a year or so ago I spotted one in Smuggler’s Cove. Today’s whale is too far away to photograph and only shows itself briefly each time before disappearing like the rainbow into the gray. But like the lone wolf tracks, each plume of vapor it expels provides proof that this place is still pure enough for wild animals.

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