Its been pretty busy around here lately, but I managed to squeeze in a fun day for just myself and the dog. Brad is still out salmon fishing and will be home soon so it was just the two of us. It was one of those late summer days that reminds us why we live here. Not a breath of wind on the ocean, and a thick palpable fog that burned off to reveal a brilliant blue sky, clear air, calm water and vibrant sunshine.
We had plans to head to a favorite salmon stream on the other side of the island, but it was just too nice to spend part of the day in the truck, so last minute I changed my mind and headed out in the boat. We didn't go far, but explored a new cove where we had never been ashore before. I anchored the boat and we paddled ashore. We hiked around the shoreline and checked the creek for salmon, but it wasn't much of a creek, so no fish. There were lots of deer tracks in the muck, and some bear scat in the woods, but not many other signs of wildlife. There were some nice beaches nearby that I've made a mental note to go explore later. Despite being so close to home, its odd that I haven't been to them yet.
We moved down the shore to an estuary where we knew there would be some salmon running in the stream. The tide flats there are extensive, so we had to anchor the boat quite a ways away and then paddle in. Luckily, the 90 pound 10 year old dog is a kayaking pro, so she hopped right on and laid down between my legs. Unfortunately we had the short 10' kayak which is slow, and the wind was not in our favor, but after about 20 minutes we got pretty close to shore. The water was just a foot or so deep and when it shallowed up enough I kicked the dog off. She proceeded to chase a large
group of gulls, who are a good indicator that there are still salmon in the stream.
The lower gravel bars of the river were littered with carcasses of dead salmon. Surprisingly, many of them hadn't been touched by bears, wolves, otters or eagles. Perhaps they've had their fill and are getting more than enough to eat. Most of the dead fish were pinks, but there were a few large chums as well. Even spawned out dead salmon are pretty easy to tell apart; the pinks have itty bitty scales, and chums (also called dogs, but so as not to be confused with the ACTUAL dog, we'll call them chums) have large scales. There were plenty of live fish too, although I only saw pinks, no chums.
We walked upstream in the sunshine, and Luna chased a few fish on the way up. She's mostly an idle threat and much too slow, but once in a while she'd grab a fish, drop it on the bank and move on up the stream. I would kick the fish back in the water and off it would swim; no harm done.
We saw gulls, eagles, crows and ducks on the way. After a few hours we headed back out into the estuary. On our way back to the boat, there were no less than 13 harbor seals in front of us and they were all watching us. Luna gets pretty excited about seals so she was shaking and whining just a little; she knew they were looking at us! And as they do, they dove when we got too close, circled back behind us, and watched us paddle away. A few of them chased us stealthily, only to dive quickly if I turned my head to look at them.
We loaded back onto the boat, and headed for home. The wind had picked up from the west-northwest, and was a little choppy but that is typical for a sunny summer day. As the sun set in the west, the clear skies held an orange glow on the horizon. The aurora borealis forecast tonight looks good....so maybe the clear skies will give us a good show!