Sunday, May 22, 2011

Kiight Inlet Lodge First Week of the Season

The weather was pretty good, the lodge had a few kinks to work out, the water was flat and the guests were great for the first week. What more can you ask for? Wildlife! Every tour had good, even great wildlife encounters that our guests will remember for years. Gary and Rita have been here 6 times I think and they finally saw a whale. The humpback whale spent a whole afternoon in and around the cove, entertaining all of us, the guests and staff. Pacific white sided dolphins were everywhere, scooping up baitfish up and down the inlet. I hazard a guess to estimate several hundred dolphins in the inlet. Perhaps this is not good for the environment and for small fish, including salmon.

We visited Billy Proctor and his museum and he told us that just a few years ago we would have very rarely seen these dolphins at all. They were considered to be an "off shore" critter, feeding out in the deep ocean. What has changed to bring them inside? Must be food or their predators, the transient orcas. Connie and her son Kyle had a special visit by a pair of dolphins. We were motoring across the mouth of the cove on a calm morning when suddenly one of them jumped right in front of the boat. Monty was hanging over the gunwale and was so surprised he flung himself backwards and fell onto the floor, blessed by the dolphin's snotty splash. Amongst the peels of laughter, everyone crowded the front of the pontoon boat to watch the dolphin antics. They seemed to be as curious about us as we were of them. Connie laid on the floor with the door open, reaching out to touch them. Eye to eye they watched each other, the dolphins swimming easily with the front of the boat. Kyle was busy trying to get photos to take home to show his dad. There are no dolphins in Montana.

If you ever get the chance, visit Billy's museum in Simoom Sound, next door to Echo Bay in the Broughton Archepelego at the mouth of Knight Inlet. Billy was raised here and was a logger and fisherman for most of his 80 years. The museum is made up of, in his words; "a pile of junk collected off the beaches and old settlements." It includes old bottles of all descriptions, including opium bottles that were filled and doled out to Chinese workers for part of their wages in fish cannery's. Hand logging equipment, fishing gear, photographs, a cedar trappers cabin, fully stocked and ready to go and his gift shop full of local books and art work.

"Come and see my fish pond, the damm mink are eating my coy, the frogs have moved in and they make a hellofa racket." Billy is chattering away as we stroll along the boardwalk. "We had a hellofa wind this winter, north easters, damm near blew me away. I was log salvaging all winter and had to hide out a few times cause of the big wind. I remember one time at the head of Knights the wind blew 80 miles an hour, waves 12 feet and I was trying to hang on in the Anhuati but my hook wouldn't hold. I was scare to round the point to the sheltered bay. I probably would have tipped over, so I rode her out there. In the winter of 1951 there was 51 feet of snow piled up on the flats at the head. The deer were trapped on the beach between the high snow banks and the tide. Hundreds of them died right there." Historical anecdotes flow from Billy in an interesting and easy manner. He has written 3 books about life along his part of the world and I am sure there could be many more stored away. "Just a bunch of useless bullshit," he says, "but people seem to like it."

Lenore and Peanut have emerged from their den. I first spotted them over in Siwash bay and they wandered across the hump into Glendale within a couple days. Peanut does not know it yet but pretty soon his mom is going to chase him away and take up with a boyfriend.
Here is mother and son taking a siesta on the old driftwood log on the beach. Any place is a good place to snooze a warm afternoon away.

Bruno is back for the fifth straight year that I have seen him. We estimate him to be at least 20 years old, so Lenore will be cozying up to him soon. Look out for Bruno, Peanut. Here is my first Bruno photo of this year. He stays well back from the river and shyly retreats to the forest as soon as he sees us. There is always a bit of a blood pressure rise whenever we see such a magnificent animal. It is Bruno that keeps us all on our toes as we wander in the forest around the estuary. An encounter with him is the wild in wildnerness.

We had a bird watching course last week, a refresher by a renowned birder, Art Martell and our friend Charlie Vaughn. Now we are all excited whenever we see a new bird. I have added at least 6 new birds to my list and feel a lot more confident in naming many others. More to follow about birds after we do the bird point count in June.

All these experiences are what make the trips to the lodge so special for our guests. They go home with memories of their unexpected experiences with the wildlife, even little things like the birds and otters. Every encounter leaves an impression and raises awareness of the wilderness plight. Guys like Billy, industrialists like Connie and even myself, all people who made a living, taking resources like fish and logs from the wilderness are slowly spreading the word to whomever will listen,"we can't continue to take from Mother Nature and not put something back!" Please don't strip her bare, leave something wild for my grandson to see."

No comments:

Post a Comment