Taku 2014 - 4: Overnight
July 4-5

View upriver from Bullard's Landing

On my way back down the channel the previous week on the way up the Taku after being thwarted by three foot seas across from Marmion Island, I’d soothed my disappointment by checking the tides for the following weekend. A high school friend and her family were visiting me all week, but had plans to spend time with another friend on the 4th and 5th. What if I could sneak away for a quick overnight up the Taku? The tides were late—6:44 and 7:30 p.m. It might just work.

So we did it. Chris and I left in the rain at 5:45 p.m. Friday night and found the channel delightfully calm save for numerous wakes. We soon left the rain behind. Other than forgetting Cailey’s boat blankets and encountering a NW wind coming across Taku Inlet instead of the SW wind that was supposed to carry us north, the trip went without incident. I tried to take a GPS track along my route from Flat Point past Scow Cove and then to the middle of the river past Taku Point on my parent’s GPS. The river was high enough that the water was less than a foot from the top of the grassy meadow when we arrived there just after high tide and there was a lot of small flotsam in the water. We tied up the boat, grabbed the card out of the motion sensor camera, and opened up the cabin. After a simple dinner of macaroni and cheese, we watched a movie downstairs, interrupted by huge deer mouse that scurried around the screen outside the picture window (see photo).

Unfortunately, the long, quiet slumber I’d hoped for was not to be. Though we’d been careful about letting mosquitoes in though the door, we were plagued by one buzzing female after another; each time we hunted down and killed one, another showed up. In desperation, at least an hour after we would have been asleep, we resorted to dire measures, spraying the upstairs with Raid and sitting downstairs for 15 minutes while it did its job and dissipated. The upside of that adventure was that we saw a bat sweep back and forth across the window while we waited.

Despite that I would have guessed her exhausted, Cailey started to get antsy around 7:00 a.m.; I locked her downstairs once, but more sleep was not forthcoming. I finally got up and headed upriver with a Swede saw and clippers to clear the trail. My intent was to go to the end of the trail and work backwards, but I just couldn’t resist all the overhanging branches in the middle and wound up trimming quite a bit along the way, leaving my rain jacket and Swede saw along the trail when it became clear I didn’t need either of them (I used clippers that morning instead). The bugs in the woods were ferocious, their objective aided by the fact that every time I cut a spruce bough from over my head I was showered with water from rain the night before, washing off my deet and causing it to run painfully into my eyes. Eventually I made my way into the remnant meadows near the property line and began cutting all small trees that I could manage with the clippers. I started in the meadow on the mountain side of the trail and then worked my way toward the river. In the end I cut around 90 small spruces and small alders, which seemed to barely make a dent. Hopefully it’ll make more of a difference when I come back and cut the larger trees with the Swede saw or chainsaw. But after two hours of wet and sweaty work, I called it a morning and retreated to the lodge, enjoying the slightly more comfortable trail along the way and dong a bit more trimming. Cailey had cleverly abandoned me about 45 minutes earlier and returned to the cabin on her own, soaked down to her skin from the wet vegetation.

After I changed out of my wet clothes (even my pants were wet under my rainpaints), Chris and I had tea and a snack and then headed out on to explore more upriver. When we got back I made a turkey melt sandwich for Chris and a grilled cheese sandwich for myself. After resting for a bit, I did the dishes and packed up, then moved the motion sensor camera upriver on the trail at its narrowest point between two trees. Since the distance at which the camera picks up motion seems limited, I thought this would be a good chance to force any animal walking on the path to trigger it. Around 5:30 we pulled away from the dock (two hours before high tide) and touched bottom only once and briefly below the beached log in the channel below the slough. I decided to try staying in the middle of the channel below Taku Glacier instead of heading to the shoreline near Scow Cove and we made it down with no incident. A gentle north wind carried us past Cooper where we ran into a light southwesterly that slowed us down only slightly. We made it home in time to shower before Kellee returned for our last night of visiting.

Not a very impressive "after" picture (the other one was before, but in a differnet place), but it is better!