Snettisham 2014 - 4: Pulp Mill
  June 25-28


Alaska Pulp and Paper mill ruins

June was nearly over. Although I’d been on some great trips, I’d entirely failed on my plan to take a week off a month over the summer to do extended trips. I’d hardly even taken advantage of my three day weekends. Knowing that I’d be in town for a week starting June 29 with a visiting friend, I didn’t think I could stand not taking some kind of longer trip before then. I wasn’t happy about taking back-to-back weeks of leave, but my supervisor is ever-supportive of annual leave and so I arranged to take Wednesday through Friday off in the last full week of June. My initial plan was to go to Snettisham over the weekend before though Monday, work Tuesday and Wednesday, then go up the Taku for two days. But the unreasonableness of that schedule quickly became clear and as Friday waned I discovered I didn’t have the energy to pull together a trip anyway. Instead I decided to tack on a day up the Taku at the end of a longer trip to Snettisham and spent all weekend cleaning house, gardening, and running errands in preparation for that and my friend’s arrival.

 

And so it was with some resigned distress that I noticed the alders and cottonwoods outside my office window waving wildly about mid-morning on Tuesday (I was all set to leave that night). I hoped it was simply a front, but the winds never let up all day or all evening. I did more chores after work, then did an exploratory drive downtown to see if the wind had died down. As soon as I crested the top of the driveway I could see the distant flags whipping in the wind; instead of heading to the harbor, I brought beers to Chris and Torsten at their office and came up with an alternate plan. My original intent was to leave Snettisham Friday at noon and head straight up the Taku for a night, returning on the tide on Saturday. I’d learned from Torsten’s arrival that a lot could be done in a single night, and the tide was too late on Sunday to be in town for my friend’s arrival. But if I went up the Taku first, I could head to Snettisham on the tide on Thursday and still stay for three nights, since I could leave Snettisham Sunday morning (not being bound by tides).

 

The next morning, I left the house at 1l:30 a.m. to a lighter, but still brisk breeze. The forecast was the same and not exactly promising and my parents had already canceled their trip up the Taku that day. But I was not going to sit around town another day wondering what it was like out there. I’d loaded the boat with lumber and fueled up Monday after work, so I only had a tote, weed whacker, metal detector, backpack, and grocery bag to load. Cailey and I headed out of the harbor around 11:00 for the 1:15 tide. I was initially optimistic. The channel was uniformly manageable most of the way, an up-to one foot sea coming up that slowed us down but wasn’t terrible. I was surprised they weren’t larger. I was determined that I would at least get to Point Salisbury and poke my head around the corner; after all, sometimes the worst seas are in the channel and I’d been through rougher and come out better around the corner.

 

When the seas did build, it happened very fast and from an unexpected direction. I was almost even with Point Tantallon when it started, and within 100 yards I found myself in steady three footers from the southwest—I was almost in the trough, when most storms of a southerly nature come straight up the channel. I was agonizingly close to Salisbury, where it looked like I might even have the seas behind me, but the second time I took green water over the bow I decided I wouldn’t make it. We turned around and, once we left the larger seas behind us, had an enjoyable ride back to town. The skies were brighter down the channel, perhaps an early sign of the changing weather to come. But it would not come soon enough. We’d missed the tide, and I scrapped the idea of going up the Taku altogether.

 

I left most my gear on the boat, just bringing back the perishables and items that needed to be kept dry. After lunch and answering a few work emails, I wrote down some of the Snettisham related newspaper article citations I was interested in and headed to the state library. Two hours later I’d found about a dozen articles, the most interesting of which finally solved the mystery of the Snettisham homestead. Or maybe I should start calling it something else! I’d assumed that its timeline was similar to the other canneries that John Carlson surveyed (the man who had surveyed six other processing-related properties), which would have put its development around 1900. I had guessed that its lack of mention in the salmon processor surveys of the time was due to its small size, being combined with other small Southeast salteries. It turns out that a man named Captain J. T. Martin started the saltery there in 1889! Much earlier than expected—and now I have a name to research.

 

Two hours is about all I can handle of microfiche, so I left a little after 4:00 and drove over the bridge to check on the weather. The flags were mostly stagnant, but a few still gently flapped northward and I thought I could see a remnant swell still coming up the mostly calm channel. It was clear that the weather shift was happening, but it might still be a bit early. By the time I left my parent’s house at 5:45, though, the west wind was waving the flags down the channel gently and the water was calm. It was either another night at home, or a second boat ride and waking up at Snettisham. I convinced myself that the dreary rain falling outside would end as soon as we left the channel and roused myself for a second try. I had no doubt I’d make it this time, and expected a smoothish ride, or a gentle following sea.

 

Which is exactly what I got at the start. I carried everything down to the boat in one load and we were off in a flash. Since Cailey had shunned the cozy bed I’d made for her in front of the passenger seat that morning (preferring to tremble awkwardly on the seat and the rows of lumber between us), I’d moved one 4x4 to make a smooth surface of lumber nearly level with the seats and laid down blankets. She lay nervously on this seat for most of the trip south. A westerly sea followed us past Arden, then died as we passed Grand Island. Shortly thereafter, we started to encounter a southwesterly swell and, instead of the calm seas I’d promised Cailey south of Grave Point, we ran into a nasty, nasty southwesterly chop, brutal and brisk. Not very high, just a foot or so, but tight and ugly. It lessened starting just north of Limestone and continued to improve the rest of the way south, but it was an unwelcome surprise. We’d both had a very long day.

 

I did make one small detour, though, to a large iceberg floating on the southern side of the entrance to Snettisham. I hated to not go the most direct route to Sentinel Point, but I didn’t want to miss this unusual visitor. It was possibly the biggest and most dramatic ice berg I’ve seen in Snettisham. From there we zoomed our way to the homestead, arriving at last 24 hours after my intent. It had felt like a long wait!

 

Since the tide was low enough to make lumber hauling awkward, I anchored the boat to the beach and took only what I needed and what I could carry in one load. I had some soup and sourdough bread for dinner, lit a fire that never really warmed the place up, read for a while, and headed to bed.

 

Spectacular evening view down Stephen's Passage

Ice berg

Nearing the homestead

I’m not sure I was fully recovered by morning, and felt in a bit of a slump. I certainly wasn’t inspired to work and did more reading than anything else, spending my time on the porch or the deck or the benches, as much in the hazy sunlight as I could. The hummingbird feeders I’d filled the night before had their desired effect, attracting a buzzing hoard of hummingbirds, surely the residents and fledglings. On the walk over from my cabin, I’d stopped at the outhouse and, as is my custom when I’m alone, left the door open onto the forest view. Within seconds, a hummingbird had flown inside and was nosing the pink linking of my rain jacket; I stared at her green back just inches below my nose before she lost interest and zoomed away. At the feeders I counted as many as thirteen at once by the end of the day, but there were likely more.

 

The boat was nicely grounded on the flats and I drained the water out and took two loads of gear up to the lodge, including the precut stair risers I’d brought down to see if they could be used on the steeper parts of the trails. Bird activity included crows noisily crashing through the brush just upriver of the deck (I believe they were after berries), a male varied thrush eating salmonberries (which are just beginning to ripen and seem to be eaten as soon as they are—sometimes earlier in the case of Cailey), an orange-crowned warbler singing away somewhere downriver, a distance hermit thrush, a loon call (I later observed the individual, a juvenile floating around downriver), chickadees, and Pacific slope flycatchers. While I laid in reading the night before, I heard what sounded strikingly like a Swainson’s thrush but a little less florid. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard one here, but they seem to be everywhere and abundant this year, so I wouldn’t rule it out.

 

I ate quesadillas on the porch for lunch. Then, before the tide was high, I decided to finish my plumbing fixes from the trip before now that I had the proper parts (one of the many errands I’d run the week before). I heated water and carried hose tape, kettle, cup, coupling, and leatherman to Harbor Seal (returning for a screwdriver), then discovered that I was missing a coupling when I got there. Thankfully I found it sitting in the lodge on the table (this was the coupling that connects the plastic hose coupling with the brass bushing in the filter) and I soon put the whole thing together, first screwing on the filter head, then connecting the couplings, then connecting the couplings to the filter via the bushing. After dumping hot water on the hose, it connected easily enough and the system now works except for a small leak in the valve (which is actually the valve I thing I was suppose to replace this spring, but replaced the hose valve instead, which hard started leaking much worse).

 

Then I went up to Hermit Thrush, unscrewed the sink hose from the PCVP pipe, and soon discovered that I’d purchased the wrong coupling to fix that leak; the guys had given me a female end when I needed a male end. I asked if the fitting was universal and the reply was positive, but perhaps they did not understand the fitting I meant. I did hack saw off the existing broken piece so I could pull it out of the wall and made a feeble attempt to at least glue the new piece together that fits through the wall, but found myself unable to open the can of glue.

 

Such was my mood that a simple failure like that ruined all further attempts for the moment. It was around high tide, so I managed to pull the boat into shore, just below the log, and offload the four 4x4s and ten 2x6s, then anchored the boat with Cailey. Somehow I mustered the energy to haul all the lumber up the deck before returning to Hermit Thrush with rubber gloves to attempt to open the glue can again, to no avail. I returned with it and opened it with a huge pipe wrench, after which I glued the 90 degree angle joint to the existing pipe that runs up the wall outside on one side and the new short piece that goes through the wall on the other side. Once I screw the right coupling to the faucet hose, I’ll only need to glue that connector piece to the coupling and I’ll have running water in my cabin again. On the way back I grabbed a diet coke, added some orange juice, and have been writing this log every since.

 

After my break I headed down to Mink cabin with my metal detector and tools (trowel, gloves, clippers, GPS) to look for more artifacts. I started in the same area I’d found the large filigreed iron piece last time and immediately got many hits. I found several small items, including something chain-like with tiny links that were still flexible, an old, soft vertebrae, and the remains of what appears to be a ceramic cup! For a change of pace, I went to the front of the cabin and struck gold. Or iron, as the case may be… My first hit was a bar with hooks on the end of it, then a long piece of iron with a chain attached, some of which still functions. Right in front of the middle of the porch where we’ve been walking for years was a shallowly buried outline of an old square sardine can bottom and the roller key—complete with rolled lid—next to it! That was right under the surface, the others were several inches deep. Right next to the lid was a thin iron bar lying next to an oval bar with attached chain. It was a treasure trove. I then decided to see if I could find anything up near Hermit Thrush, which is in the vicinity of the bunkhouses according to the original survey. I wandered around the likely, flattish areas below the cabin and eventually got a hit. Seven inches down I found something, which turned out to be a flat piece of metal about a foot long and eight inches wide. I think that’s a more productive area of the forest, hence the greater depth of soil over the artifact. I didn’t get any other hits in that area, so it could have been a one-off, but I’ll be back to look for more.


At that point I turned in for dinner, eating on the front porch and watching a family of Pacific wrens bopping around; at one point, at least four skittered one after another all across the deck and into the salmonberries. I also heard a large WHOOMP which captured both our attentions, and I looked up to see a blow on the far side of Gilbert Bay. With my mediocre binoculars (my good ones are in the shop), I watched a whale break the surface several times in the distance, barely showing any back, and then another whale did a full breach just in front of it!

 

Despite my general sloth, I did manage to rouse myself for an attempt at the generator that evening. I changed the spark plug, which didn’t have any effect, then poured a little gas down under the spark plug. That did the trick, and suddenly I had power. I hooked up the extension cord and drug it and the weed whacker to the end of the boardwalk toward the cabins and trimmed my way back, having to frequently stop and pull out more cord on the weed whacker (most of the time requiring the removal of its housing with my leatherman). The generator, which wasn’t running as smoothly as I would have liked, died just as I was finished, which I figured was from lack of gas. I poured more in, but it would not start. Since I knew the spark plug was working (or should be), I figured it was a gas supply issue, so I started tinkering with the fuel filter, pulling the fuel hose off one side which of course resulted in fuel leaking out! I captured some in a cup, but having nothing large enough for the amount I’d put in, reinstalled it to the filter. Meanwhile, gas was for some reason pouring out of the carburetor. I put a cup under that and quit for the night, quite annoyed that I hadn’t started with the fire pit/path which was the priority for trimming.

 

That evening I finished rereading the book Taku (about Harry DeVighne, Erie Smith, Hack Smith, and Mary Joyce) which I’d started that morning, and went to sleep later than usual. I also slept later than usual in the morning, not getting up until it was nearly nine, much later than I’ve been waking up lately. Maybe I really just need rest! The tide was just turning from a -1.8’ and two great blue herons fed along the water’s edge. One of them had a small flounder that it poked and carried around and waved for quite some time while its companion continued to hunt. I don’t know if he eventually managed to eat it, but he sure hung onto it for a long time. I went back to the generator before breakfast and was shocked when it started on the first pull—in my surprise I nearly didn’t turn the choke off before it died! I let it warm up a little while I checked on the heron and it died about five minutes later. I figured that it was out of gas again since I’d only put a splash in, but nothing I did would revive it, including removing and draining the fuel filter. The filter inside is a rusty color, but I don’t recall what color it used to be; perhaps that’s blocking sufficient fuel flow, or perhaps something else is wrong. One way or another I think I’m going to treat myself to a new, easy to start generator.

 

My plan for later in the morning was to explore Speel Arm, looking for the cabins I’ve seen photos of and exploring the pulp mill. I grabbed my backpack, Cailey’s boat blankets, and the metal detector and headed out into Port Snettisham. Around the corner three bait balls were attracting bunches of gulls, eagles, and murrelets. Once I turned the corner into Speel Arm I hugged the right shore looking for the pattern of rocks in one of the photos I have of Speel cabins. As always I was impressed by the scenery, what I think of as the “Little Tracy Arm.” I also noticed that AEL&P has put snow breaks on several of the power line towers in the area of the avalanche that took out power for six weeks several years ago.

 

My first stop was the neat rocky point right before the coast turns and wraps around the gorgeous terminus of the Speel Arm with its massive rocky face on the far side. It had always stood out as a good picnic place, so I thought of it when I saw photos of a couple of cabins right behind a similar rock. At first inspection, though, it did not appear to be the right rock and it did not seem to be an opportune place for building anyway.


So I went on to the pulp mill, indicated by a long stretch of pilings on either side of Tease Creek. We pulled up into a nook on the edge of what may have been an artificial peninsula of rocks and dropped the anchor. The beach there was wide and grassy and lined with picturesque rows of pilings, most of which were leaning over. The creators had piled rocks around the base of each piling, which I’d never seen before in historic docks. Perhaps they used a different strategy to secure them, or the substrate was different; one way or another, not many if any were still vertical, which is also rare among surviving pilings.

 

I scoured the beach for the bale of pulp that my parents had seen many years ago and then walked down the beach, past some large picturesque boulders and to the nearest cottonwood (I was intrigued to find cottonwoods there). I found nothing of historical interest, so ducked into the forest back near the pilings and followed a game trail inside the forest fringe until I found a metal box, pipe, and frying pan (though I questioned the vintage of the frying pan due to the fact that it had a rather untarnished piece of hardware cloth underneath it). That expedition spat me back to the beach, but I soon reentered the woods in a flat area closer to the rest of the pilings. I was a little nervous about bears, so talked loudly to them as I spotted pieces of pipe in the trees and eventually followed a small spur stream of Steep Creek back to the beach, metal pipe all along it. I fetched the metal detector and came back, soon locating and digging up a few metal artifacts. Across one log I found some pieces of metal roofing and what may have been tar paper. And then, looming ahead, were pieces of huge iron machinery—a large pipe and something that looked like a huge boiler next to an enormous wheel. There were lots of artifacts in that area, many just barely covered in moss.

 

From there I continued on until I came across the pipe and box I’d seen first, somehow hoping I’d find something that indicated habitation and not just machinery. The metal detector beeped in the woods just upslope and I started digging. It looked like there may have been lumber there, but there was definitely something like tar paper and several broken pieces of red brick. Pretty exciting! A little below that I dug up several whole yellow bricks, and there were more nearby. It was clearly a rich area, and seemed less like a machine shop, but I was running out of time. I decided to find one more artifact, and selected a beep several feet up the steep slope. I never found any metal, but I did find a flat sheet of broken glass—window!? I retreated up the beach to the boat and puttered across the mouth of Tease Creek to the other side for what I expected to be a very short visit. I looked around for the remains of pulp, but found nothing. Inside the woods was a whole different story, though. Wooden boxes full of gears and machinery were still intact, and behind them was an overgrown stone building with a tunnel down the middle housing the bottom of a large Pelton wheel—probably part of the hydroelectric plant that powered the pulp mill. It was topped with lots more machinery. I was amazed at how much was left behind and what good shape it was in, especially the wooden boxes. The stonework was fascinating, too—was that the only stone building they made? There was also more tar paper and more bricks there (these said “Renton” on them, which seemed familiar), but I was out of time. On the beach was another man-made square of logs, but with a less obvious function.

 

But I had to be going. My plan was to be on the river and heading up to visit Whiting Point half an hour before high tide, so I reluctantly left Speel Arm to that end with half an hour to get there. I looked for more round rocks from the photos on the way, but to no avail. Unfortunately, a little front or something was moving through and we found ourselves in uncomfortable chop as soon as we left the arm. By the time we got half way to the river it had turned really nasty and spray slapped across the windshield as we crashed miserably through it. So it was with frayed nerves that we put the chop behind us and headed up the river. I kept to the south shore thinking that with the tide I ought to be able to make it without a problem, but beyond the grassy meadow we hit bottom and struggled to escape, running for much longer than I’d like with the engine tilted up to its furthest extent while still providing some power. We hit deep water, then had another uncomfortable putter over a barely submerged sandbar. The wind was trying to sweep us upriver and chopping up the water, so once I gained deep water again I fled the river and returned to anchor in front of the homestead. I stayed farther out than usual in case I wanted a low tide departure (which it would be if I left Sunday morning). I was all anchored up and loading the kayak when I decided to leave Cailey’s brown blanket behind; I turned to tuck it under the glove box and in those few second the kayak pulled loose from the rail and was already too far behind the boat to reach, and gaining ground in the breeze. I’m afraid I cursed loudly and angrily to the chagrin of Cailey, pulled anchor, retrieved the kayak, and did the whole process over again, seething with fury.

 

It had not been an auspicious end to an otherwise fun exploration. But I quickly calmed down back at the lodge and away from the windy water. I had a late lunch of quesadillas, relaxed a bit, then went in search of more boundary markers. The picture I had of the plat for the property made it look like there was a regular brass marker at all corners, but I only knew of the ones on the creek and near the lodge. I grabbed the metal detector and worked my way up the steep gorge to the marker tree nearest the NW corner. From there it was, in theory, 50 feet almost due east, but I had no compass or map, so I had to guess at that direction. The undergrowth was too thick to see the marker if it was there and the sweeping with my metal detector yielded nothing. I decided to come back with a tape and a compass, but first I headed to the rocky point. I’ve always been surprised that I hadn’t found the marker there, since there is little vegetation to cover one, but all my explorations had failed. The plat does not clearly show the shoreline there (satisfying itself with straight lines and “record meanders” notes), so the marker could really be anywhere along that line of rock. I swept the metal detector over all the relevant vegetation, but found nothing.

 

Thankfully, the metal detector was much better at picking up artifacts. I had it on casually as I walked the trails toward the point and was surprised to hear a beep right in the middle of the new path on the way to Harbor Seal. Sure enough there was even a corner of something metal sticking up which turned out to be a squashed bucket with some blue color still showing up. Another beep just a few feet in front of the cabin itself revealed a perfectly circular stove top cover, apparently all alone out there. Amazing!

 

Later that evening I started trimming the path to the cabin outhouse, cutting the salmonberries down to the ground and trimming more of the devil’s club away, and sat on the rocky point with a glass of wine before bed. Having finished one book and read an entire other book the day before, I turned to something easy and entertaining, starting a silly thriller that a guest had left behind many years previously. I was a little embarrassed about it, but it did the job.

 

Cailey browses salmonberries

A hummingbird at the feeder

My first excavation

Excavating at Mink cabin

A sardine can and key?

Speel Arm

Large rocks on the beach

Former site of the mill

Tease Creek

Metal and tar paper?

Rebar in an old piling

Boiler?

Two types of bricks and wood

Wooden box structures

Equipment in wooden boxes

Digging in front of Mink cabin

A blue bucket!

An evening glass of wine on the point

I woke up Friday morning feeling energized and enthusiastic for the first time all weekend. The first evidence of this was that, after lazing around in bed for a while, I finally turned on my phone to discover that it was only 7:15! After some smoked salmon and Russian tea for breakfast, I heated up some water and washed the windows on Harbor Seal and Hermit Thrush, though I won’t be able to take advantage of the pollen and dustless windows until my next trip. After that I got to work on the new trails beyond the bridge, first clearing and widening the path that goes straight upriver to join the loop between Harbor Seal and Hermit Thrush. I was fed up with overreaching growth, and finally decided that at Snettisham too I must make a stand against the vegetation. We love open places, and it will probably be less work in the long run and more pleasant for everyone to go ahead and trim away more than the bare minimum of devil’s club to squeeze through. Why not make the path wide enough to be comfortable and enjoyable? It pains me to cut down the elegant and ancient devil’s club, but with apologies I forced myself to do it, cutting a wide swath through the dense grove, cutting off the stems that grew along the ground across the path (taking with them stalks on the opposite side), and creating a very nice, wide path. I chose a gully on the far end of the loop trail beyond to stack the stems, dragging or carrying them over there. It needs to be tromped down, but the results were very nice. I’ve decided to let the section of trail between Harbor Seal and its junction to the new trail grow in; it’s slightly longer and not as direct to get to Hermit Thrush or the creek from Harbor Seal with the new path, but it’ll be much easier to maintain and will help establish the trail. Besides, that stretch of path was difficult to keep clear of reaching hemlocks, devil’s club, blueberries, and skunk cabbage.

 

Once that path was clear, I started leveling the ground just upriver of the bridge, which spits people out on an uncomfortable slope. Using mostly the hoe along with the clippers now and again, I hacked into the moss and drug the resulting dirt downhill until I had a more level path for about ten feet or so before the ground naturally levels. I also carried the two 4-step precut stair risers over to figure out where they should go (even though I wouldn’t be able to put them together without a generator) and started working on their placement. They could stand to be several steps longer, but I think they’ll still function especially if I put a stone landing at the bottom. The worst part is that the path naturally curves diagonally down the steep slope, but the stairs have to be parallel so the treads meet up, which means that the stairs will join the upper path at more of a 90 degree angle instead of the natural curve.  A little work on the shape of the upper path should help this. In the end I wound up having to hack into the hillside on the upriver side so the stairs went directly down to the existing path. By the time I was finished, I had them set up more or less in position and brought a few narrow pieces of plywood over to see if they could be more or less level. Once they are fully constructed it should work well.

 

On and off during this process I also first cleared away the branches I’d cut on the path to the cabin outhouse, discovering that I hadn’t cut nearly all the clump of salmonberries growing out of the moss the night before. Continuing with the theme of putting a halt to the claustrophobic growth, I determinedly cut and cut and cut until I’d tripled the width of the path (which was as narrow as a foot path can be). As I went I could immediately feel the added warmth and light of the sun as devil’s club and salmonberries fell away. It looks better than it has in years. I also used my brand new Swede saw to cut one of the alders along the boardwalk from the lodge, a huge devil’s club knot in the new path, and something else I can’t remember. All this in combination made me want to walk around the property for the enjoyment of it and no longer made me frustrated to do so. All in all it was a good day’s work and I sat on the porch and enjoyed a beer in celebration while I watched a private yacht anchor in the channel across the river.

 

I had a couple of hours until I planned to depart. I’d done most of the cleaning up before I’d left and had just the last minute packing and dish washing to do. Once that was finished, I decided to take a few more GPS positions, first hiking to the top of the water source to get a track and then hitting the outhouses, shed, and bridge to make sure I had those points to add, which I’m not sure I gathered with Torsten’s (I was not using my parent’s). At last I decided to hang out on the rocky point with a cup of wine. I started out on the ledge that faces upriver and decided that I’d recreate a campfire ring there with the intent to enjoy that area more with all the abundant local firewood. I moved the ring from its former position in the middle of the ledge to the northern edge which cleared the ground a little. By that time the bugs had descended and I moved to the other side of the rocky point in search of a breeze. I found a comfortable position and relaxed with my wine, nothing that the kayakers had returned but by what route I was unsure. I watched and heard a steady stream of whales in the inlet—the two I’d been watching all weekend had turned into three, all very active, one of which was at the edge of the sandbars not far from the shoreline below the eagle’s nest.

 

While I was sitting there I started thinking about the path clearing I’d done and how the short path joining Harbor Seal with the point was a little overgrown and not conducive to this added use I had in mind. When I finished my wine it wasn’t yet 6:00, so I grabbed the Swede saw and returned. Along with one alder bough, I cut half a dozen or so of the many small dead spruces littering the area and cleaned it up a bit. Then I gave myself one more treat, and scanned the ground in front of the cabin for artifacts. The metal detector immediately spotted metal in a small area, so I started scraping with the trowel. Within a minute I held a square nail and, when the metal detector still beeped in that hole, soon found a larger nail with globs of iron melded onto it.

 

And then I had to go. I grabbed all my sundry tools on the way back, stowed them away in the shed, locked up, and kayaked out to the boat. The tide was still high enough that we had an easy departure and headed out on a light sea from Gilbert Bay. I was worried when we turned the corner, as the seas seemed to come out of the Speel Arm, suggestive of a north wind (and the evening was partly cloudy), and very relieved to find it coming down the entrance to the port as well. In the end, the ride back was to all intents and purposes perfectly calm. Cailey curled up on her blankets and I just enjoyed the ride, having just enough adventure under my belt to ease the tension of a week in town.


New path to Harbor Seal

Improved path above the bridge

Working on stairs

Brushing the trail to the outhouse

A serene day in the inlet

Visting Whiting Point

A new firepit for the point

Clearing the way to the point

A square nail and corroded nail



Ruins at the pulp mill