LEAVENWORTH — Three deer, six white fish, a flock of ducks, two mergansers, four dogs, mushrooms, rose hips, cottonwoods, and chestnuts made it to the list of nature spotted on the first Fall Salmon Walk put on by the Wenatchee River Institute Friday.
As for spawning Spring Chinook salmon — the goal of the tour — only one was seen.
But that didn’t discourage the 14 adults and small children who slowly meandered along Leavenworth’s Waterfront Park enjoying the sun streaming through low hanging fog and golden fall leaves on the morning after a heavy rain.
Rachel Bishop, a community education specialist with the institute led the group, and talked about what people were finding, along with some tidbits about the fish they hoped to see. She said she planned this date around the time last year when she saw a lot of salmon activity along the Wenatchee River near Leavenworth. “You just never know with salmon,” she said.
She was excited talking about the 700-mile trip it takes the salmon to return from the Pacific Ocean to spawn and how they use a sense of smell to find their way back to the same areas of the river they came from.
On the tour with her two young daughters, Katie Erickson, Wenatchee, said she came from Montana and she and her husband wanted to raise their children in a place that offered nature tours like this one. Others were from Spokane, the Seattle area, and Hawaii.
The first stop was a large pool of water just below the Wenatchee River Institute building. Bishop said she normally can see salmon breaching the water as they move upstream to spawn.
The group walked under a low canopy of trees to a rocky overlook and watched over the calm area of the river but nothing broke the surface to indicate a fish was there.
The next stop (after a short break at a playground for the kids) was the bridge to Blackbird Island. The children squeezed their heads between the rails and the adults peered over the top to see many white fish and finally a lone salmon slowly swimming under the bridge and then out of sight.
A final stop at a shallow, gravel area of the river, where many fish would deposit their redds or salmon eggs, produced no fish although a flock of mallards and a couple of mergansers did catch the group’s interest.
Walking back to the institute to complete the tour, there was no complaining, just an appreciation for a beautiful morning for a walk, the first Fall Salmon Walk.
Another opportunity for a tour is scheduled for next Friday from 10 a.m. to noon, starting at the institute parking lot.