Category Archives: rain

Ignoring the Rain

I didn’t want to leave the house this rainy morning. The heavy, pounding rain discouraged me but not the poodle dog. To please her, we headed out to the end of the North Douglas Road for a short walk to the ocean.

            The rain had almost stopped when we reached the start of the trail. A few hundred yards in, we came to the Peterson Creek bridge. Pounding rain had flooded the Creek and made reaching the beach trail tricky. The bridge itself looked okay. But creek water had flooded over ten feet of meadow trail touching the western edge of it. The two thick planks that normally provide a safe bridge to the trail were floating on the creek’s flood waters.

            Feeling like a tight rope walker, I struggled to keep my balance as I used the boards to reach safe ground. Aki trotted calmly behind me.

            Low clouds and rain softened the view of Admiralty Island and the channel between us and it. But I could still see an immature bald eagle standing unprotected from the storm. Later, we saw three female deer hammering tall grass at the edge of a different meadow. Like the eagle, they ignored me, like they tried to ignore the rain.

It’s About Time

“The rain must be keeping hikers at home this morning,” I told Aki while backing our little car out of the driveway. On warm, dry summer mornings, I can watch tourists and locals stroll past the house, dressed for a walk up the Perseverance Trail. Today, none passed while I drank my morning coffee.

            We drove to North Douglas, where I parked the car in the almost empty Outer Point trail parking lot. The folks that came in the other parked car had probably taken the dry trail to the beach. Not worried about soaking my boots, I lead Aki down the other trail—the one partially flooded by beavers.

            The rain ramped up as we neared the beaver pond, slamming onto the trail. Drops from the shower created circular patterns where they struck the pond water. Aki and I walked down a twenty foot stretch of flooded trail and onto to a dry stretch that ran parallel to a huge beaver dam. I’ve used this trail, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter for over 20 years and never seen a beaver. That changed this morning. A large adult swam slowly along the dam, ignoring the trail. I took a few photos and then, like a greedy idiot, climbed onto the dam so I could get a better view of the animal that helped to maintain it.

            When I moved a little closer, the beaver turned its head and gave me a hard look. Then it slapped the pond water with its tail and dived under the pond water. After giving it a few minutes to reappear, I followed Aki down the trail and onto a very bare beach. We crossed it and walked on a rarely exposed pathway to a Shaman Island. In an hour or so, when the incoming tide is in flood, the path would disappear.

            Usually, this time of year, ducks or even geese would be floating on either sides of the island bridge. But we only saw a single seal, six gulls and, which is cool, a pair of oyster catchers. On this rainy morning, it would hard to spot such dark feathered birds on the exposed tidal flats if not for their orange beaks. They provided the only bright color on the otherwise bland ocean scrap.  

Weighed Down With Rain

Sometimes rain forest rain keeps you trapped in your house. That’s when Aki refuses to leave our yard. This morning, I wondered how she would react to walking out of the house. Would she whine or happily walk over to the lawn to pee? This morning she peed. 

            After she relieved herself, we drove over to the Treadwell Woods, hoping that the forest trees would provide some protection from the soaking rain. This morning, it didn’t. But Aki took the increased hammering with patience. I tried to let emerging pink salmonberry flowers distract me. Rain gathering on their petals pulled down the flowers and made them sparkle. I quickly snapped a few pictures in case the raising wind would soon shake away the water drops weighing down the flowers.

Transit Birds

Aki seems content to stay home this morning. She must know that it is raining. Unless we have a little luck, we are both going to get soaked on any walk. Normally, I’d drive us over to a heavy forest where the trees would give us a little protection from the storm. But I have a feeling that migrating birds might be taking a feeding stop at Fish Creek. We have a chance to see birds that will spend the summer up north.

            If Aki could speak English, I’d try to convince her that we need to visit Fish Creek. That won’t be necessary. The little poodle could throw on the brakes when we reached the trail. But she won’t. Even at 14 years of age, she still feels responsible for keeping me safe in the rain.

             We didn’t see any people on the trail but there were plenty of traveling birds. A handful of green wing teal ducks ignored us as we neared them. They were too busy hammering food from a shallow pond. Soon, they will move further north. A gang of five lesser yellow legs hunk and peck food nearby. They chose to ignore us as well.  

Harvesting the Shallows

We picked Auk Nu Beach for this mornings’ walk. The huge, old growth spruce crowding the trail keeps most raindrops off our parkas. It would have been a great idea if we had the place to ourselves. New leaves were exploding open on ever alder tree. But it was hard to enjoy it because of the long line of little grade schoolers chuckling on the beach.

            I wouldn’t leave the woods for the beach on any other wet day. But after the parade of beach kids passed us, I walked with Aki across the beach gravel toward a gang of golden eye ducks and scoters feeding just offshore. Mergansers and mallards would have drifted into deeper water as we approached. But the scots and golden eyes ducks just ignored us. They were too busy harvesting the shallows. 

Hopefully a Wise Tree

Deep snow covers the trail to Sandy Beach. It’s dense enough to has enough to support Aki’s weigh. But, I have to keep on the narrow trail to avoid wearing myself out on the soft, deep snow that borders it. 

            The beach is lined with dark and naked tree trunks. They still look pleasing but I am wondering whether spring will ever arrive. Then I spot one willow tree displaying a cloud of white. It’s not snow, but cotton-like flowers called pussy willows. I should take photographs of the blooms but don’t want to tromp my way through many meters of deep snow to reach them. Believing that there are more blooming willows, I follow Aki toward the beach’s end. 

            None of the other willows along the beach are blooming. I wonder if the flowery one is a wise predictor of winter’s end, or a short-lived fool. Then I leave the beach and climb a steep trail toward an eagle’s nest. One of the nesting birds calls out on our approach. But none of them make themselves visible from the trail. 

They Eat Rain or Shine

I didn’t really want to leave the house today. I wasn’t looking forward to splashing under  heavy, wind-driven rain falling out of clouds that cover the mountains along Gastineau Channel. It’s a day of grays, not blues. It’s the time for catching up on a good book. But a poodle like Aki is owed a small adventure a day so we slide into the car and head out to north end of Douglas Island, where the heavy forests can protect us from the worst of the rain. 

            When just a few miles from the trailhead, I spot gangs of sea lions hammering herring just off shore. Two whales do the same out in the middle of Fritz Cove. I park the car and step out. Ignoring heavy rain bouncing off my parka, I take photos of the hungry and aggressive sea lions. 

            In a few minutes I switch and watch the two whales conducting a similar hunt out in the cove. I think they are humpback whales, who sometimes winter over in the rain forest waters. A little gang of sea lions run just in front of the whales. The sea lions must be snatching at the herring being chased by the humpback. 

            I get back into the car before rain soaks through my parka. We drive to the end of the road and walk to the beach, now flooded by the high tide. Just off shore surf scoters have tightly tucked themselves into a tight raft. Are they stumbling over each other to harvest food or just enjoying a tight hug? In a few minutes they disburse as Aki and I head back to the car and then home.  

Getting a Brief Brake in the Weather

Last week more than five inches of rain fell here. We probably received another five inches in the last three days. Aki and I dressed in our best rain dear and headed out to Auk Rec Bay. I hope the forest will protect us from the rain. 

            We don’t need any protection when we arrive at the trailhead. The grey skies aren’t dropping any rain. It almost makes me shout joy. I don’t. I might be tempting the rain to return. 

            The beach is almost empty of pups and their people. Maybe this is why tight knots of surf scoters and Barrow golden eyes work the surf line. In seconds, one of the groups disappears by diving into the water. Seconds later the ducks pop back up, tiny fish already settling into their stomachs. They the heavy rain returns. 

Eagles Seem Fine With the Rain

Rain but no wind driving it. Hoping that the wind isn’t about to rise, Aki and I head over to Sandy Beach. The forest we must pass through to reach the beach should protect us from being washed away by the rain.

            We work our way through the woods. I’m grateful that the rain has washed the trail clean of ice or snow. The rain has also powered up the normally puny streams and filled a half-filled pond. The last time we were here, ice covered it. 

            We see no birds or animals in the woods. But a soaking-wet bald eagle is eating something on to roof of an old mining vent. It turns around to get a good look at the dog and I. Is it expecting me to deliver some tasty dessert?   

Five Inch Storm

Last night one of those five-inch-rains deals started. This morning it is still a storm, not a rain shower. Strong wind shivers the car as we drive out to North Douglas. It turned out to be a bad choice. 

            A few thousand feet into the forest, we hit the first problem—ten feet of flooded trail. Aki started to cross it first, slowly planting each step. He seems to think that if he slipped he’d be carried downstream by the little flood. This slowed me down, allowing more water to slip into my boots. 

           We had to pass through many similar puddles, each one soaking Aki’s fur and my boots. The rain soaked my parka and Aki’s head and back. It drove away most of the ducks and gulls. But we did spot the little trio of harlequin ducks nestled near a pile of rocks on the beach.