Aki loves the human friend we walk with today. She squeals when I drive up to his house and spends the whole ride to the trailhead on his lap. The little dog walks attentively at his side as we travel the length of the Auk Rec trail.
The resident clutch of harlequin ducks are in their winter place just off shore of the mouth of a small streams. Down beach from them a school of gulls sulks at the mouth of another stream. Last week Typhoon Lan rains turned the normally gentle streams into eroding firehoses, cutting deep channels into the beach gravel and exposing roots of tough beach grass. But shafts of silver light pouring from the marine layer seem to bless the storm tired land. Sunlight even manages to illuminate yellow stands of dogwood and Mt. ash trees to remind us of why we love the rain forest.
Even with all this beauty, the human conversation turns to the effects of mine tailing stacking on marine life. As we watch harlequins, buffleheads, and golden eye ducks dive on small fish, my friend tells me about the heavy metal concentrations being found in seals. As if on queue, a Steller sea lion surfaces just off Pt. Louisa to disturb the glide of a loon. The descendents of the Tlingit people who once lived above these beaches still harvest seals for meat. Rich in protein and vitamins, they feed it to their children.