I’ve seen the Discovery specials on salmon, how they leap dramatically up waterfalls to get upstream. What they don’t show you on TV is the bonepiles of salmon that don’t make it. How they fall into piles of decay and become sushi for their canabalistic fellow travelers.
Catching salmon is about timing the tides and the runs against the fisherman’s patience and vacation time. For the salmon, timing their run into the spawning stream at high tide seems to be key in Whittier, Alaska. Time it wrong and the big ones die in shallow tide pools.
Timing, as it has always been, is life or death.
Whittier is a place out of time. The only route into town is a still functioning railroad tunnel that also functions as the longest tunnel for cars in the U.S., 2.5 miles. You might think that means the train runs beside the cars, but no. The trains and the cars take turns in a single lane tunnel, the cars rolling straight down the train tracks. The tunnel itself is more like a cave with gray, seeping bolder walls. A tall, thin tunnel, it leads to a little outpost on Prince Edward Sound. Michael fished most of today and I went back to Tucson with Hannah, thanks to a laptop and an electrical outlet in the rental car.
It was a brilliant day.