Taku 2021 - 6: Close up
September 10 - 12

Misty meadow at high tide

Photo Album

After four days in Juneau and two failed attempts at fishing for cohos, Ezra and I left the fuel dock at 2:00 on Friday for the Taku. The forecast for Stephen's Passage called for a small craft advisory, but the point specific forecast for Taku Inlet suggested 1-2 foot seas. We found the channel calm and the breeze blowing down the river, the wind not yet turned from the southeast despite the drenching rain that hammered the boat. The left windshield wiper squeaked as it hit its maximum right extension, but I required them to see. Ezra managed to doze through the seas between Bishop and Flat and then we navigated the calm river with no issues about an hour before the 18+ foot tide. When we walked up to the cabin, my mother was busy at the water pump, so we sat on the porch swing to surprise her, though Jenny had already alerted her to guests. My mom hurried up to the back deck and yelled down to me to shut off the water pump, as she'd disassembled the inlet hose and needed to shut it off before it overflowed through that hole. Instead of hearing about four days of solitary bliss, we heard of a stressful, busy, frustrating stay interspersed with a few peaceful walks around the cabin. She'd already had to pump water since I'd left and had taken the top of the tank off to investigate for leaks. Having found none around the tank, we brainstormed ideas about measuring the water level before bed and shutting off portions of the system each night, starting with the water into the house, to narrow it down. We also heard how, the very first night she was alone, she accidentally locked herself out of the cabin while sending an OK spot message (being uneasy about human intruders) and, unable to find where I'd moved the key after our several break-ins, climbed a ladder to the back porch and broke a window to get in. She'd spent most of the day of our arrival removing the interior frame of the window and cleaning up the glass, and after that she ran out of water. Adding insult to injury, she had to prime the pump again before using it, awkwardly with a bucket full of water. It sounded like one of those cabin weeks where it was all work, an unfortunate cap to the summer. Moods lifted as we drank cocktails (muddled blueberries with diet Verner's ginger ale for Ezra), chatted about happier topics, and ate homemade pizzas we'd made and frozen earlier in the week. Before bed, I measured the level of the water in the tank and shut off the valve to the inside.

After a poor night's sleep, my mom and I were up around 7:00 and chatted for a while, myself enjoying a leisurely cup of cafe francais before my instant oatmeal and peanut butter. We were interested to discover that the water level had remained constant overnight, suggesting that the leak was inside. The tide wasn't until the early evening, so Ezra and I headed out to what was only my third canoe trip of the summer, carrying two posts with no hunting signs attached, a flat piece of plastic shed, and camera supplies. Alas, the morning was wet, as the week had been, and I don't remember a moment when it wasn't raining on us. We paddled upstream and around Big Bend, startling the occasional duck and passing the very active, newish beaver lodge. On our return, we took the left channel around the island near the landing and paused to pound in a no hunting sign for those hunters who take the mountain-side channel. Two and a half wet hours after leaving, we returned to the cabin to find my mother sorting through the food stores that have been left over the years. We ate quesadillas and delicious, hot spaghetti o's for lunch. We each rested a little bit, Ezra took a walk, and I took down the olive barrel from its tower, nearly filling a 5-gallon tub by tilting the barrel at an angle.  Eventually we gathered our gear and headed to the landing to work on the floats. My mom descended her ramp and hopped aboard with Ezra and took off from the float. I untied the lines and stood on the floats until the Kathy M picked me up and we tied them onto the stern. The afternoon was calm and the fall colors lovely, only a sprinkle fall from the sky. Amid persistent noseeums (or other small biting flies) we secured the floats and also brought the canoe back for the winter.

After my mother nimbly climbed up from the bow of the boat at the landing, she left to start a fire while I tied the Kathy M to the float anchor and threw Ezra a stern like to shore. I then awkwardly clambered aboard the canoe, which we'd towed back, and tossed up all the sundry supplies we'd brought along before barely helping Ezra pull the canoe up the bank, which he basically did by himself. We pulled it into its nook and supported it, then headed up a pleasantly warm cabin.
With the float adventure passing right through a normal dinner time, we ate a little late. Ezra made spectacular roasted potatoes to accompany my bison burgers. Somehow, for the first time that I can remember, that single fire overheated the cabin to the point that it was actually uncomfortable! Hopefully it will help the dampness inside from both the carpet scrubber (my mother had scrubbed the whole carpet that week) and the accidental flood from overflowing the water tank earlier in the week. I was exhausted and lazed around while Ezra and my mom chatted. That night, we measured the water level in the tank again, having used or lost about four inches over the day.


Having taken a couple of antihistamines, I slept better that night and we all slept later. We lost four inches of water overnight, and when I went to use the bathroom I discovered that there was water leaking from beneath the sink faucet in a small but steady trickle. If the lever is closed while angled toward the right, it leaks; otherwise it appears water tight. We hope this is the solution to the water loss problem. We all sort of went our own ways most of the day doing close up chores and feeling antsy and anxious, while it continued to rain or at least to be very damp. I climbed the spruce tree at the back corner of the house and wound up cutting five large branches down with the swede saw, almost as high as the peak of the roof, all of which were either touching the roof or imminently in danger of it, in part in case we come up during winter winds again. It was satisfying work, and one of the more fun parts of the day, but when I got down I saw that the aesthetics of the tree and that area would be greatly improved by a lot of additional pruning. Plus dragging those large branches into the woods later was not much fun. I also topped off the water pump fuel tank and the generator tank so my mom could add fuel stabilizer for the winter. I wanted to work on installing dead bolts on the doors finally, so my mother went looking for a chisel but didn't find one. I also discovered that my dead bolt kit doesn't come with the right bit to drill the hole in the frame for the bolt, which was disappointing. Frustrated, I retreated upstairs and finished my book, later heading outside to warm up with activity. Ezra and I walked back on the back trail while I clipped most of the small cranberries, alders, and blueberries that reached into the path. In the meantime, my mother was doing all manner of other tasks I didn't see and harvesting three large ziplocks of greens from the garden.

Back at the cabin, I circled the stand of trees in front of the cabin, clipping off the reaching branches to keep it from expanding its domain, then moved down toward Alder to do the same, feeling some satisfaction in opening up those areas. Most of the rest of the day was spent helping pack, placing water jugs and drinks in sinks, and so on. At 4:00, Ezra and I took two loads of gear down to the boat and got it all loaded up, including quite a few bags of garbage and old food to clean out the cabin as well as the water catchment pieces. We did the final close up routine at the cabin, dropped my mom and the dogs at the boat, then Ezra and I put the 4-wheeler away and locked up Alder. We departed shortly before 5:00 with bright light peering through breaks in the clouds onto an utterly peaceful and serene fall valley, each of us drinking a beverage of our choice. It was the best weather we'd had by far, and the putter down the side of the meadow was beautiful. The ride was similarly smooth until we reached Cooper where we hit smooth, 2-foot seas, gillnetters, and poor visibility. Our mood wasn't helped by the fact that the bilge pump hadn't been working and there was quite a bit of water in the back which we discovered was soaking most of the gear back there when the bow came up while we were underway. Our moods were not stellar when we pulled into the gloomy, rainy channel and dealt with a lot of heavy wet gear. We managed to shove it all into the car (minus Ezra, who walked home) and headed up the hill to hot showers and late dinners.

Harvesting microgreens