Day 58 - Tuesday, May 28 - Milepost 5587 - Birdcount 252 - Deep Creek, Alaska

(BF's Journal). I hike through the marsh at the confluence of Deep Creek and Cook Inlet near the Russian village of Ninilchik. We are camped on the shore of the inlet with our Pace Arrow pointed to sea and our view seems to extend until the steel grey waters meet blue grey sky, but snow covered volcanoes on the opposite shore periodically peak through the fog to reveal the deception. Behind us is the marsh, a dry grassy plain intermingled with rivulets spurred from the deep creek through which salmon churn upstream to their spawning grounds. Guardians of the marsh, fourteen Bald Eagles perch on stumps erupting randomly across the field. As I hike to the end of the marsh where the forest begins, I see enormous nests wedged in notches 70 ft above me in Cottonwood trees. One holds a mature Bald Eagle staring down at me with glaring yellow eyes and menacingly hooked bill mounted on a wavy white feathered head.

Further in the woods the forest thickens, so I walk along Deep Creek where the forest opens and sunlight pours on the fast stream as it bubbles over the rocks. As I pause to listen to a Hermit Thrush sweetly singing each verse at a different pitch, I hear rustling in the undergrowth. Ever mindful of Shari’s admonition about bears, I point my binoculars toward the sound. Seventy-five feet into the woods I see brown fur behind brown branches. I continue to scan the object, but the thick dark growth keeps me in suspense for moments that seem like minutes. Then I see the baleful brown eyes of a Moose as it grazes on the thick brown grass growing between the brown branches. I doubt the moose has seen me, so I whistle the song from The King and I about "Whenever I feel afraid ..." The moose looks up, puzzles briefly over my offkey rendition and goes back to eating lunch. As she browses, she follows the grass in my direction to within 50 ft. I suspect she is headed to the stream at my back and logistically she can head to my left or my right, but directly between us it is too thick for her to penetrate. I move to my left, she watches, then chooses to move to my right. Meanwhile, the birds I have been pursuing move in closer and I am sidetracked as I watch and listen to Audubon’s and Orange-crowned Warblers within a dozen feet of me. When I again check on the moose, she has reached the path I walked a few minutes ago and is stepping into the stream, wades across the shallow water and disappears in the cottonwoods on the opposite shore. Close Encounters of the Moose Kind!

(SF's Journal).  After dumping our waste water, we pull out of the place we called home for the last eight days. We use the car wash in town to hose down R TENT and meet the nice young man from Wisconsin who gave us the bait fish. He is the attendant at the car wash.  Bert drives R TENT up the hill overlooking Homer and I drive the car.  He pulls into an overlook where we hitch up the car and head to Deep Creek State Recreation area.  There we find a nice spot looking out over the beach and I walk around gathering information from others in the campground.  Most of those I talk to are from other states; Oklahoma, Florida, Nevada, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Colorado are some of what I remember.  The people seem to be on their second, third or more trip and came just for the fishing.   Most are staying over a month or the whole summer and have brought smokers for their fish, pressure cookers for their fish, canning jars for their fish, boats, tackle, boots, ice chests, etc. for their fish.  I watch as the tide goes out and the boats come in.  So many of the boats are these rubber inflatable rafts that hold two people, sometimes four, with a motor hung out the back.  They drive it right up onto the beach, then put down wheels hanging in the back next to the motor, get a ATV and pull it up to their campsite. One boat is too heavy to make it up because it had a 100 pound halibut in it.  What a sight it must have been to see its lone occupant land that fish, knock it out and struggle to get it into the boat all while trying to keep from capsizing in the choppy water.  Such a frenzy for such a fish.  Deep Creek empties into the ocean right at our campsite and salmon can be seen swimming upstream. Too bad it is Tuesday for fishing is only allowed on three consecutive weekends.  It is warm enough to sit by a fire that we start with some of our Texas wood supplemented by coal that I find on the beach.  The bluffs have coal seams and the coal gets washed up onto the shore and can be gathered for fuel.  The chunks are very flat 3-4 inches thick and 12-14 inches square or smaller.  I lug two of the bigger chunks to our site, drop them onto a rock to shatter it into smaller coal size pieces and add the smaller pieces to the fire as needed. It works but smells like I remember coal to smell like. Yukky!  I can not remember where I had smelled coal burning before, but I must have since the smell is familiar.  R TENT faces west so after having pudgy pies (only the second of this trip) we sit inside and watch the palest pink sunset I have ever seen in my life.  It is rather pretty with a pale pink glow reflected on the sparkling rippling otherwise gray and white water.

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