We are running late. It’s already noon so we should expect to find people having lunch on the Eagle Landing Beach. The almost full trailhead parking lot almost assure of running into someone on the trail. But we are the first dogs or humans to reach the beach where a brace of merganser ducks sunbathes.
The ducks must be stunned by the sun because they don’t stir even after we break out of the woods. The female is the first to notice the little dog and I. Without rising to her feet, she wakes up her mate with a squawk. The drake, with his chest nestled into the beach gravel and his head raised to the sun, still won’t move. Only when the hen stomps off toward the water does he rise.
It’s a treat to walk on a beach untracked since last night’s high tide. We only find the tracks of the mergansers and one deer. Aki and I make parallel tracks on the beach before returning to the woods. The trail leads across a little headland to another pocket beach. Just offshore a land otter fishes. He quickly disappears, perhaps into another forested headland. We cross that one two, finding not a land otter but plenty of evidence of its presence. Empty sea urchin shells litter the mossy floor. Near one such a shell pile, I discover a folding pad, the kind that cross country skiers sit on during coffee breaks. Seeing it detritus, I carry away the pad. At home, I find a ring of bite marks left by the otter that carrying into its keep.