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Outdoors

Crabwise

Low tides and high adventure

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The first time Crab Hunter ever dragged me out onto the eelgrass beds to forage for decapod crustaceans during a minus tide, it seemed more like a novelty than anything.

“Might as well clear the air right now,” she said, as we began sidestepping ever so gingerly down the dizzyingly steep, root-strewn trail winding for what seemed like an eternity down the hillside from her cabin to the beach. 

“If you, like many other unbelievers I know, remain under the impression that we need a boat and a whole bunch of crab pots to scare up a decent meal’s worth of dungies, then you’re sorely mistaken. Anything they can do with their crab pots, we can do just as easily—and probably even more efficiently—by hand.”  

“Hmmm,” I mused, doing my best not to slip, trip or fall off the precipitous path while contemplating the many necessary and potentially hazardous steps that seemed inevitable through such close and repeated exposure to so many powerful, wound-inducing claws.

On top of that, I also found myself becoming even more discomfited by our apparent dearth of tools.

“Boats might well be superfluous,” I said, reduced to bashing through dense, ever-thickening salmonberry entanglements armed only with a five-gallon bucket, “but I’d give my left arm for a sharp machete right now.”

“Horsefeathers!” Crab Hunter exclaimed, bashing likewise right behind me with her own multipurpose bucket.  “This jungle is only temporary. We’ll be running footloose and fancy-free on the hunting grounds in no time.” 

And so, despite my lingering skepticism, her confidence in the prevailing methodology succeeded to grow ever more commanding.  Even as we continued to sweat and struggle for each successive foothold, there seemed little other available option other than to just keep on descending best I could.

Sure enough, the trail finally appeared to bottom out, bringing us into full, unfettered view of the glistening shore. 
“Ahhhh,” I thought, “nothing but smooth sailing from here!”  Except, of course, there happened to be one final obstacle—an almost sheer, 10-foot-tall, wet clay embankment.

Standing warily just behind the lip—just as I managed to discern the heaping, rust-encrusted remains of a ruinously dismembered stepladder—I was startled to observe Crab Hunter scurry out from behind me clutching a tattered strand of tree-anchored rope and lower herself in a safe, if mildly awkward, hip-first slide down onto the cobble.    

“So there you have it!” she cheered, brushing the mucky crust off her pants with a few prideful swipes. “Look out, crabbies. Dinner feast, here we come!” 

And, with lightening speed, she scrounged through the driftwood pile for a serviceable “prying stick” and off she went to harvest the freshest, most flavor-packed bounty our local tidelands have to offer. 

All I could do was feel lucky enough follow her, hidebound and lickety-split.

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