Sunday, April 27, 2008

High and Dry


I recently returned from a trip to Sitka. I was up there to give a talk/class on tracking. The field portion of the class would be on Kruzof where I haven't been since I started tracking, so I wanted to scout things out before hand. The scouting day was beautiful, sunny and relatively warm. However the water was pretty rough getting out to Kruzof so Kitty (the person organizing the class and taking my on the scouting trip) and I decided to explore an island a bit closer in.

There was patchy snow on the ground throughout the woods on the island. Considering how heavily browsed the Vaccinium was I was surprised we only found a couple recent deer trails. There were also a few mink trails loping through and some squirrel tracks and middens. Kitty was impressed with the amount of cedar in comparison to the island she lives on.

After eating lunch near the boat we decided we would just go collect a bin further up the shore then leave the island. We were aware the tide would be changing soon, but were not too concerned since we would just be a little while.

If you have gone on little walks with a naturalist you are probably already aware of how easily a short walk can become extended. Kitty and I are both pretty interested in exploring nature and looked around "one more corner" one or two too many times so that when we got back to the boat it was no longer fully afloat. It still seemed that we might be able to get it loose so we spent close to a half hour pushing, pulling and levering trying to get it free. We conceded defeat, but were prepared to make the most of it. After all it was a beautiful day, we had extra food and water and the tide would be back up by 10 or 11pm.

After calling town to let folks know what was going on we started gathering material for fire (pausing on occasion to admire flowers, lichen, intertidal life, etc.) Fortunately with the sun shining all day we had some nice dry dead grass to get the fire started and I was happy to find that I was able to get the fire going with a single match (I hadn't tried to start a fire with matches for a few years). After getting a decent supply of firewood stocked up we sat back to enjoy the rest of the sun before it disappeared behind the trees. Before too long, Kitty's husband showed up to save us. He figured that since we had to get up early in the morning it would be nice to get us back to town early enough for a decent bedtime. I regret a little bit missing the opportunity to enjoy the beach for a few more hours (and apparently there were owls calling on the island when he went back to get the boat which would have been cool to hear), but it was certainly nice to get a fuller nights sleep.

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