A few weeks ago and friend and I made what has become an annual trek – seeing hundreds of Bald Eagles feeding on spawned out salmon.
It is even something of a phenomenon to see thousands upon thousands of fish carcasses. Baldies don’t seem to care if it is fresh or even if a seagull has gotten there first. As you can imagine, these eagles have the right of way when they come in to eat.
You can almost hear the bird talking, “Hey, listen up, I found a whole bank of stinky carcasses about a quarter mile up the river. Let’s go!”
At our first stop on the Nooksack River we saw no immature Bald Eagles but when we drove a couple miles upriver, there they were. Immatures can be mistaken for Golden Eagles as they have no white head or tail feathers for the first three years of their life.
Take this one fellow and multiply him by 100 and that will give you an idea of the density of eagles we saw on just a three mile stretch of river. These birds prefer the opportunity for a free lunch over the alternative of hunting for prey which is why they congregate on the fish spawning grounds.
There is beauty near and far in eagle country. These peaks are part of the North Cascades National Park. I’ve only been able to ID two of the peaks, the tallest two. The names tell you more about this country than a thousand books: Mount Triumph and Mount Despair.
Who goes to Alaska in winter? For the third time in ten years I have. Even though South East Alaska is geographically a small part of the state, it offers a vastness and beauty that is wonderfully easy to reach by ferry. It is all the more dramatic in winter, away from the crowds and close to a wonderland of mammals and mountains.
Late on a Friday afternoon we board the M/V Malaspina. Even the Port of Bellingham looks exotic through the wide panoramic windows of the observation deck.
Though many travel by car, we are on foot. Most of the folks that we met onboard were from SE Alaska and returning home. Some were from further north and would have a ways to go before reaching Anchorage or Fairbanks. Amtrak can also drop you right next door if you want to come without a car.
There is freight to be moved. Not only in the hold but at nearly every port we stopped at we saw Linden Transport’s equipment. From Bellingham, Lynden just drops their trailers on board. When the destination port is reached then one of Lynden’s trucks will drive on and hook up. Though seas are generally very favorable on the Inside Passage, the ship’s crew still takes every caution and firmly anchors any trailer.
This is our itinerary. On the northbound leg, reflected above, we’ll be stopping in a few places that we won’t be awake for. Other stops will allow us to venture off the ship and take in some local sights.
This is my traveling companion, brother Mike. He’s already engaged some of the locals as you can see. We are going to make some new and unusual friends on this trip if Mike has his way.
At first glance, it looked like the results of a bad day fishing on the river. Who left such a mess of monofilament? But no! The closer I got the more beautiful it became.
These are “Ice Flowers”, thin wisps of frost and ice that were along the Nooksack River in Washington. We came looking for eagles, which we found, but were delightfully ambushed by another glorious miracle of nature.
It looks a little like cotton candy. If you want to see and learn more about them you can go here. I also call these Beth’s Birthday flowers. Happy 39th Dear. Here’s a bouquet for you…