On a trip to Alaska last month, we sailed into a cave that reminded me of the Oregon cave I wrote about in The Impersonator . . . especially because it was lined with starfish and other sea life, like I described in the story.
As I reached its mouth, the loose pebbles underfoot gave way to rough rock and slime. My thin soles fared poorly on the jagged floor. The cavern itself was larger inside than its narrow mouth suggested, about the size of a theater stage, and as high, with starfish decorating its walls and crevices. I called to myself and my own voice answered in the emptiness. I picked my way about halfway in until I could see the back wall, then turned back into the sun. No clues there.
. . . and later . . .
It looked like Nature had built herself one of those pointed-arch cathedrals I had seen in Oliver’s travel books and decorated its wet walls with frescoes of colored algae, red and white barnacles, and starfish. A narrow ledge, smooth from centuries of erosion and slippery with strands of green slime, skirted the north side of the cave all the way to the back. A few feet below, the rising sea churned like boiling water, even on a relatively calm day like today. The waves broke against the cave’s mouth and sloshed noisily inside, each one bringing the water level closer to covering my walkway. I had arrived just in time. It wouldn’t be long before the ledge was submerged. I wondered whether high tide regularly filled the cave, and one glance at the barnacles stuck high on the walls answered the question.