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Aki sniffs at something washed up on Sandy Beach by last night’s tide. Every high tide leaves a rope of rockweed along the length of the beach. I’m walking down this line of seaweed, taking an inventory of gull and eagle feathers, bits of crab shell, and sometimes whole salmon bodies. Thankfully no plastic objects or bags peak out from under clumps of the rockweed.

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The last storm tide that ripped down Gastineau Channel sucked away from the beach several inches of the finely pounded gold ore that we call “sand.” This exposed rusted machinery and fragments of ceramic bowls too thick to be fashionable today. What was once garbage we now considered relics of a time before the collapse of the Treadwell mine tunnels in 1917.


We pass the partially restored tower that once ventilated the mine tunnels that ran beneath the channel. The usual pair of bald eagles roost on the tower’s metal roof, apparently obvious to the approach of the inbound Norwegian Jewell.  The mega cruise ship spews up two thick ropes of pollution from its stacks as it motors towards Juneau.

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