Aki and I are following the Rainforest Trail to the beach. Dull-brown leaves cover the path. Gray trunks of alder trees frame a wall of yellow berry bushes. It draws me like the first sunshine after a month of rain. Up close, the leaves look more brown than yellow and show the signs of a summer being attacked by insects. Late fall beauty can’t stand close scrutiny.
It isn’t raining when we walk onto the beach. Fog blocks our view of the mainland mountains. But across Lynn Canal, the Chilkat Mountains seem to be showing off their new snow blankets. They were hidden from us by cloud cover the last time we walked the beach. The time before that, they were embarrassingly bare thanks to a summer drought that melted their snow cover.
The beach and bay are empty of birds. I expected to spot at least one small raft of harlequin ducks or maybe some returning Barrow golden-eyes. Until stretching Aki’s patience to the limit, I scan the water to birds, seals, or whales. This time of year we have seen all three off this beach. But I end up settling for the mountains, newly white, cross the canal.