Last Fall, when Aki and I took this trail to Boy Scout Beach, we spooked a bear. It had been digging chocolate lily roots in a tidal meadow. We saw two other root digging bears that day. None of them bothered the little dog or I. But the memory makes me cautious as we follow Eagle River to the sea.
We can hear the ocean long before we see it. Strong westerly winds have raised a surf that pounds onto Eagle Beach. Some of the waves move into the river to crash against a steep section of riverbank. Past wave erosion collapsed the prior bank, forcing crews to relocate the trail two times. Just down river living spruce trees, their roots undercut by wave action, have tumbled into the river.
The violent surf and strong wind forced the sea birds inland. A brace of bufflehead ducks plop into a little side slough as Aki and I walk along it. The ducks blast off the water when they spot us but only land thirty meters away. They must be tired of fighting the waves and wind.
A bald eagle cruises across the river to circle over my head. A little panicked, I look for the little dog and find her a few meters away. The eagle stops circling after I closed the distance to Aki. Three seals ride the river surf with their heads pointed toward the sea. They must be waiting for a last wave of salmon to arrive.
The little dog and I are not used to dramatic surf. Up close, it sounds like a hundred Nugget Falls after a week of heavy rain. We turn our backs to it and climb a sand berm then drop onto another tidal meadow. The berm blocks the wind and dampens the sound. As we make our way back to the car I try to catalogue all the sounds that moving water makes—the plop of a water drop, hum of water moving through a culvert; water gurgling, shushing, dripping. There is enough diversity for a D.J. with time and a good ear to make a symphonic mix-tape.