Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ebey Slough

As mentioned in earlier posts, I read a book about a guy who paddled down the entire Mississippi River in a canoe. That inspired a daydream to one day paddle in Ebey Slough just east of Everett Washington.

Today that "dream" was realized....

I put the canoe on top of the truck, tied it down and headed east on the Highway 2 bridge over the Snohomish River a couple of miles. That portion of Highway 2 is called "the trestle." The viaduct and bridge are used by more than 37,000 vehicles everyday.

This version of the trestle is about 40 years old and had to be repaired in 2007. Crews sandblasted rust, dirt and loose concrete from the girders and then used a carbon fiber mesh to repair them. Once the mesh was in place, crews used hand trowels to apply concrete over the exposed steel.

Hmmm.... I decided to get off the trestle and onto some side roads, looking for a spot to "put in" the canoe. As soon as I pulled off the main highway I saw what I suspected to be remnants of an old "hobo" village. I'd forgotten about that. Transients used to live on a small swampy patch of western Ebey Island, and today it looked like they still do. I seem to recall that more than 20 years ago a couple of public defenders represented a guy charged with a murder at that camp.

In the early 1980s I myself had defended a guy named Charles Long who, on this very same Ebey Island, repeatedly stabbed a guy named Freeman with a knife-- partially severing his jugular vein, collapsing a lung and lacerating his heart-- in the presence of two witnesses. As I was searching for one of the eyewitnesses, the deputy prosecutor found the witness and literally had her hypnotized so she could no longer support Long's claim of self-defense. After the jury convicted Long, I got the verdict overturned on appeal in State v. Long, 32 Wn.App. 732 (1982).

Ebey Island is named for Colonel Isaac Neff Ebey (1818–1857), one of the earliest settlers in the Pacific Nortwest. Col. Ebey was the first permanent white resident on Whidbey Island. In 1857, a party of Haida and Tlingits from British Columbia travelled by canoe into Puget Sound on a mission of vengeance. Following the murder of one of their chiefs by white men the previous year, the Haida party was searching for a white chief to kill in retaliation. The original intended victim was Dr. John Kellogg. But when the Haida were unable to locate Kellogg, they went to Ebey's house, called him out, shot him dead, and beheaded him. Three years after the killing, Isaac Ebey's scalp was recovered by Captain Charles Dodd of the Hudson's Bay Company and given to Ebey's brother. Cpt. Dodd traded the scalp for the price of "Six Blankets, 3 pipes, 1 cotton handkerchief, 6 heads of Tobacco, 1 fthm. Cotton".

This canoe trip on Ebey Island had the potential to create a lot of memories.

After driving around awhile, I finally found a spot to park, though I'd have to portage the canoe a short distance to the slough. Only a couple of obstacles to get around--

Can you imagine what this guy's key ring must look like?

Once in the canoe on the water the cliff swallows started going crazy. There were hundreds of mud swallow nests under the trestle on all the pilings. Creepy.

Oh well. I shook that off and decided to enjoy the pleasing sights on the slough.

Deciding to go the opposite direction, I paddled upon what I imagined to be the Ebey Island Yacht Club. I wondered if that was the guest dock.

I'm not entirely sure what I think and feel now about Ebey Slough. But I am truly thankful I got a chance to outlive this particular dream. Next canoe trip-- another peaceful neighborhood lake.

1 comment:

  1. How far did you paddle?
    How interesting looking at all that old stuff... fallen road, transient camp, rotting boats... something very serene about watching cliff swallows darting in and around decay and fresh foilage.