Sunday, April 17, 2011

April Hike

My native friend Al asked if I’d like to go for a hike down the beach Saturday morning. Actually, ‘up’ the beach since we’d be heading north as far as the river. It was the first time I’d been on the beach right behind and below my house. It was very low tide and, standing right along the edge of the shore, I could just barely see the tip of my new HD TV antenna flying high, inhaling my 13 beloved stations.
We walked a long time, at least three hours. It was beautiful. The beach is made of moraine, which is the debris formed when glaciers slowly scrape down mountains. It appears as small pebbles….agate, quartz, granite, jade, amber, shale and many more. I’ve mentioned them before. When I walk, I’m constantly looking down, gathering these treasures into my coat pockets. They will become my best souvenirs of Alaska. I’ll share some with you if you ask me.
Walking north, the sea is to our right and the cliff on our left. The snow is almost melted from the bluff and now the clays are drying out and on the move. We saw mini landslides as we walked and Al pointed out the places that were once lake edges, recognizable by the formation and color of the clay. I got good geology lessons. A pair of eagles perched in a treetop didn’t seem to notice my enthusiasm. I was full of questions like, “What would we do if a bear appeared above us on the bluff and started climbing down?”
When we finally reached the river we found it was still mostly frozen. A lone swan shared our disappointment and was chased away by Ewok, Al’s shaggy dog (I took off my gloves to take a picture then discovered a glove was missing…EWOK!). We stepped over deep crevasses in the ice to get closer to the river’s edge. I imagined an episode of “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” featuring me saying something like, “It seemed like such a tiny crevasse…” . When we sat down to rest, Al took off his backpack and surprised me with hot tea and cookies. Perfect.
We didn’t say much on the hike back. I noticed my coat was caked with mud. I didn’t care. I got all cleaned up at home then flipped on the TV. Nothing seemed very interesting so I turned it off.