On this second (and final) weekend of my dad’s visit up here, we all had the opportunity to go with a friend to Kruzof Island. Rowan and I planned to sit on the beach and relax while the others went hunting.
It was a nice sunny day, and the boat ride out was largely uneventful, though we did see a whale that seemed to be resting near the surface between Bieli Rocks and Kruzof. Although there had been some pretty good chop heading out, the winds were out of the north, and it was calm with minimal swell when we arrived at the south-facing beach. What swell there was seemed manageable for a direct shore landing, so we opted to do that rather than look for a more protected anchorage that would require a bit of a walk to get to the beach we wanted.
Rowan and I were dropped off by Rod first, with my dad and Connor coming in on a second trip. I asked Rowan to gather some materials for fire starting, and she opted to collect the dry seed heads of dune grass. With the recent sunny dry weather, they seemed like a good bet to get started. While she was doing that, I went to gather smaller sticks and branches for kindling and the early stages of the fire.
At some point in this process of gathering materials I saw a hummingbird fly by. I am pretty sure it was an Anna’s Hummingbird and it may have been checking out Rowan’s pink coat before flying off. They’ve been more common in town over the past couple of years, but I was surprised to see one well away from any feeders.
Also while gathering I noticed a Ruby-crowned Kinglet or two foraging in the forest-margin young spruce. I had also seen one at Sealing Cove earlier that morning. It’s not unusual for them to be late stragglers into early winter, but I suspect with the relatively warm fall, perhaps more birds are taking their time heading south.
Conditions were warm enough that we didn’t really need a fire to be comfortable, but we got it started all the same. Between the seed heads from the grass, some additional dry grass I picked up in the forest, and some spruce pitch, we had a pretty good tinder bundle that started right up with a single match. The small diameter dead spruce branches I collected provided enough of a bridge to get some of the drier driftwood burning.
With the fire going, we just sat and relaxed. Direct and reflected sunlight combined to make it quite bright, reducing rather significantly my ability to get the relaxing effect of sitting and looking into the fire. Fortunately, sitting in the warm sun brings its own relaxing effect, so it made for a very pleasant time.
It was interesting to observe that despite the warm temperature in the sun, it only took a small shadow for frost to persist. With the low angle of the sun this time of year, behind pretty much every piece of drift wood, and even inside of some deeper tracks, there was a patch of white frost.
During our time there, I noticed several flies – I wonder if they over winter as adults and on warm days like this are active, but settle down somewhere protected when it’s less hospitable for them.
Early on I noticed a Northern Flicker calling in the distance, and later we were able to see one fly by us. We also saw/heard what I think was a Red-breasted Sapsucker working the trees on Yax̱latit Noow (which Rowan later decided to climb up).
A couple of times during the busy day relaxing in the sun by the fire, I took a break to pick a few cranberries I had noticed. There weren’t a lot and many were pretty soft, but it was a pleasant way spend some time.
When the hunters returned, we packed up and got ready to go. I watched the swells and saw that from time to time there was a series of slightly larger ones that broke enough to make staying dry while pushing out in the inflatable a bit of a challenge. (I have heard before that swells tend to go in fairly consistent sets, and I would be interested to learn how this gets set up and works.) Rowan and I took the first trip out with only a minimal bit of splashing to get us wet. While we watched the others getting ready to head out, I saw they were going to try going through some of the bigger swells. They ended up getting pretty wet, and enough water came in that they went back to shore and emptied the raft out before trying again. The second try was more successful. Apparently they had tried to go out a little quicker, but were stuck on the sand, and by the time they got free, the bigger swells were rolling in.
Also out at the beach that day were 2 or 3 folks who were staying at Brent’s Beach Cabin, and a larger group of people who were camped out by the stream that comes down in the middle of the beach. The large group stayed down by their camp area, and we only saw the cabin folks when they were coming back just after our group had returned, so it was mostly a fairly timeless visit to the beach by ourselves for Rowan and I.