Spring time in the Chilkat Valley is an impressive time. Seems the whole of the world is coming alive and staying busy with fattening up after a (not so) long winter. As I was pulling out of my driveway yesterday, a Sow Moose and her very large yearling were clambering down Cemetery Hill on Mud Bay Rd, headed right for my house. Animals, after a long absence, are emerging from the forest, and can be seen nearly anywhere If your eyes and heart are open to it.
After a six day work week, I am tired, but ready to get out into the real world of forest and river and animal; to have a peek and to get myself right with the world again. I head out around 9:30 Sunday morning and drive north up the Haines Highway. It is raining slightly, but it is not a bother to me. I want to head to a place at 25 mile I know of to look for and to shoot video of Moose. I drive slowly and in a manner of no hurry what so ever. Eyes peeled left, I see an animal on the shores of the only inches deep Chilkat. It appears at first to be a Lynx, but as it turns, I see that it is either a young and lone Wolf, or more than likely, a large Coyote. I pull off the road and the animal drops what it is eating and scrambles up the far embankment. Not wishing to disturb the creature’s fine and tasty meal, I too scramble back onto the road way and wish the Canine farewell. I get to the mudslide area at 19 mile and look out over the sandy river braids and spy two Eagles in a tree top. Between them is a nest the size of my pickup bed. They appear to be guarding it, and once again, I leave them in peace.
After a bit I am nearing the place I want to go, but realize after crossing the Chilkat bridge, there is far too much snow for my two wheel drive truck to handle on the dirt road leading back to the area in question. Reluctantly, I turn around and head back down valley, moving as slowly as before thinking the right place will pop up. At 18 mile, I turn into a pull out and descend into the bushes and thickets leading to the innards of the forest. Camera and tripod are heavy, but I figure it would be worth it to get a shot. Good and sellable clips are rarely placed in front of you, at least when it comes to animals, although I do know some folks with homes situated as to have their own private wild animal zoo in their backyards. I am happy to be thrashing into this forest however. Soon I am on a game trail and Moose dropping appear, though hard to say how old they are. I hear a creek ahead, and I stumble upon what is quite obviously a major Bear/Salmon area, The shores of the creek are heavily trampled, and lying about are many lower jaw bones of last years run. The area is so heavily used looking, I can imagine this place has been a Bear feeding ground for untold centuries. This place is a treasure, and I continue on, contemplating how dangerous it might be in a few short months when the fish are spawning again and the Brown Bears are out feasting. Back at the truck, I head down valley and spot, on the other side of the river, fifteen to twenty Canada Geese on a layover in a massive field. Further out, a moose is grazing peacefully. Having only my Xtra Tuff’s on, I swear to myself I will always carry my hip waders in the back of the truck. I drive through town and down the peninsula, where there are perhaps eight or nine Eagles feasting on the Sleeper Shark that washed ashore last week. On the drive home, I pull off to watch an Otter bobbing it’s head as it swims parallel to the shore in search of fish.
Sure is a spectacular time of year here in Haines…never got even one single shot. Didn’t matter.