Friday, July 7, 2017

Rain Day

I veer off of my intended route and go where I end up.  At the put-in there is a steady warm rain with all the signs that it will continue for a few hours and with nothing that hints at threat of thunder and lightning.  I put on my close-out rain gear - the stuff that spends most of its time stuffed into the bottom of my pack - the stuff that is there just in case.  I've learned, after 27 years in the rainy Pacific Northwest, that everything changes in this weather.  Sounds are muffled, animals behave differently and the natural odors remain contained.  My camera has to remain cased until needed.
"Run Around Sue" was playing at the grocery store.  Perhaps the best of its genre, it replays in my head, an odd song to go with a solo canoe trip in the rain.

The large birds  are more or less grounded.  The Osprey are perched, the water surface too disturbed for them to locate and dive on fish.  At the widening I spook a Great Blue Heron while a Great Egret fishes on the opposite bank.  I slow down a bit as I pass through the boulder swamp.  The tide is nearing high and I know that there are some very large boulders lurking just below the surface.  Like the Osprey, I have trouble seeing them.
At the narrowing, where the Lieutenant River becomes a creek, I flush two immature bald eagles.  They fly back into the forest.

I take the "river-left" fork (my right as I ascend the river).  It has been a couple years since I pushed up into here.  I find beaver sign within a couple hundred yards...a lot of cut and partially cut trees.  Just after passing a beaver bank burrow I come to a relatively new dam.  It is a foot or so high and I cross it since the beaver has given me more depth to canoe upstream in.  Somewhere above the dam should be a second lodge.  But, I soon come to a downed tree that has fallen such that the crown landed in the river...a tangle of dozens of thick branches blocking, with my saw safely stored in my car.  When I get out on the return to cross the dam, I notice that this dam is a reconstruction of a very old dam.  on both sides of the river a long curving berm is obvious...about 2 ft higher than water level with a total length of 200 ft or more.  Although the organic matter in the berm is fairly well decomposed, it is clearly an old dam and there once was a small pond here.  The current beaver colony has plugged the gap in that ancient structure and if left alone will soon have a good sized pond.  The repair does look to be fairly recent as it has not silted in at all.
At the beaver dam

When I get back to the boulder swamp, I spot one of the immature Bald Eagles.  It flies by chased and harassed by a male Red Wing Blackbird.  Three times the Blackbird manages to perch on the back of the Eagle and fold its wings for just a moment.  I cannot imagine that the Blackbird is not doing the bird equivalent of laughing.

Lieutenant River

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