I first spotted the beaver by his wake – gliding smoothly out from shore, just downstream of the dock. I placed my rowing shell gently into the water, keeping one eye on my busy downstream neighbor. He arched his back, slapped his tail loudly, and dove… only to emerge a few seconds later, a few meters away. I sat still, and watched. He looked at me. I looked at him. He paddled along, zig-zagging upstream ever closer to me, clearly curious to see who (or what) I was, and what I might be up to. My fingers itched for my smartphone – only 10 meters away, on shore where I’d left it – but to stand up and fetch it, I knew, would spoil the moment. The beaver swam ever closer, his eyes on me every moment.
Eventually – for the moment seemed to last, though it was surely only one or two minutes – he pulled alongside the dock, keeping a safe distance of five meters, watching me from the side as he paddled strongly upstream.
Then a sudden SLAP and he dove again. The moment was gone; I readied my shell to row, and he resumed his course across the river.
It’s moments like these when I wish I had a camera, or even a smartphone. No such luck today! The photo above is from a sequence I shot in 2017.
Today’s beaver may have been the same fellow whose photo I shared in April:
Forty years ago today I started classes as a first-year undergraduate student at Dartmouth College. As I headed off to find my Physics, Math, and Geography classes, I surely did not anticipate that I would return, less than a decade later, to join the faculty … or how the years would turn into decades and I would take on increasing responsibilities. It has been truly an honor and a privilege to serve this institution on behalf of current and future students. Read on!
I set off for a quick afternoon hike, eager to get outdoors and stretch my legs, but with limited time available. I was driving the back roads through the forested lands on the east side of Hanover, NH, and was surprised to see a trailhead icon appearing on my car’s navigation map. I decided to change plans and investigate this trailhead – one that is relatively new, and certainly new to me. I learned, on arriving at the cheery trailhead kiosk, that it feeds two short trail loops on the western slopes of Moose Mountain – allowing one to enjoy the conservation lands of Mayor-Niles Forest and Britton Forest.
After leaving Anchorage I stopped in San Francisco for a few days of business and alumni events, then hopped down to Laguna Beach, south of Los Angeles, for a retreat with about 50 other provosts. They have a longstanding tradition of hosting this retreat at the Surf & Sand Resort, right on the beach.
It’s quite a nice place to visit – when the weather is good. Unfortunately it was cloudy and rainy for most of my visit. And the waves were pounding the shore, and indeed the base of the hotel itself, so hard the building would shake. All day. All night. It was quite impressive – check out the video clips in the gallery, most of them taken from my balcony a few floors above the spot where the waves crashed under the bottom balcony. On the other hand, the surfing community was out in great numbers (video).
The moon was full, which always leads to higher tides. Furthermore, I heard others mention a storm out at sea, which I later learned to be Typhoon Merbok. It was west of Hawaii at the time and then slammed western Alaska a few days later. The satellite imagery is quite impressive – as were the reports of waves exceeding 50 ft.! (I hope the good ship Dreamcatcher and its crew rode out the storm in a safe harbor.)
This post was written a few weeks later and thus benefits from some hindsight reporting, but is backdated to the final date of my visit to Laguna Beach.
I’ve been traveling in Alaska for nearly two weeks and have another week of travel ahead, in California, before I return home. Long overdue for a haircut, I noticed a tiny shop beside the TSA entrance here at Anchorage airport: the Bush Pilots Barbershop. Two older men were seated inside, shooting the breeze, while Fox News blared loudly on the overhead television. Decades of memorabilia were pinned to the walls – photos of a younger barber holding a massive fish (95 pounds), well-fingered maps of Alaska, postcards from bush pilots, stuff animal heads, antlers, and more. What the heck. I’ll go all-in for the Alaska experience. I stepped inside, waited for a break in the conversation, and asked for a haircut.
Many thanks to Steve – a fellow Dartmouth alum and long-time Anchorage resident – who took me along for a hike in Chugach State Park, on the east side of Anchorage. We climbed up the slopes of O’Malley Peak and into an alpine plain called the “ballfield”, to an overlook of the Williwaw valley. It was a beautiful day with plentiful sunshine and some clouds passing through the peaks. Great views, near and far. More photos in the gallery!
A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.
This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.
Thursday (September 1) Geographic Harbor: We visited the beach (and bears) in the morning. It was a beautiful day, with the clouds passing over and through the hills surrounding the bay. Read on, though, for photos of the bears and other wildlife spotted this day!