Monday, May 19, 2014

North Island

Last May when we paddled back to Boulder beach from Benjamin Island, we met a group of women headed out to paddle and camp at North Island. In preparation for a longer paddling trip, we knew we needed a shake-down over-nighter and picked North Island as the spot. With all the fine weather we've been having I expected the island have occupants other than us, but we had the whole place to ourselves.

After work on Friday we loaded up and drove to Boulder beach then paddled along the shore for three miles. Every so often we would meet a sea lions trolling for herring. Once we'd paddled until we were perpendicular with the island, we made a 90 degree left turn and paddled due west to North island.

Setting up camp Mr. X used a tree limb to remove pine cones and other debris. While setting up the tent I managed to get  a pollen shower as the spruce trees are releasing pollen like smoke bombs.

We then went for a walk along the beach. I wanted to see the anchorage on the north side of the island. Mr. x wanted to get the best evening lighting which meant we tromped back and forth through ferns and trees and devil's club until we emerged on the boulder beach on the northwest corner.

 Though it was still light and the sea lions at the Benjamin island haul out were barking we decided to head for bed. Mr. X checked the time 10:30 pm. When the neon orange moon rose over the mountains at 11:00, I realized it was never getting dark. Throughout the night we heard sea lions and the rising tide.

At one point I heard footsteps outside the tent. I couldn't tell what they were and remembering Mr. X telling me about a co-worker who was sniffed and sniffed by a bear in a tent on Admiralty Island, I held very still. We hadn't seen any bear or moose sign, but we know they can swim to the islands in the channel park. We had seen some scat near the beach, but Mr. X didn't identify it except to say that it was strange looking and it was larger than a marten or marmot.When breaking camp I found fresh scat less than 10 feet from the tent.

In the morning, I felt like I was in an aviary. The eagles and ravens, pigeon guillemots, black oyster catchers, varied thrush and scoters, all make a racket. One of them, I swear, sounded like a hyena. Eventually, I got up to read on the sun warmed beach, watching the sea lions work their way back to the haul out, huffing as they went.

Mr. X wasn't far behind me and we sat on the pebble beach enjoying the sun, view and our breakfast.

We then paddled the 1/3 mile to Benjamin island where Mr. X was looking forward to more bushwhacking
in the hope we could reach the sea lion haul out from the north side of the island. We found some deer trails but no trail to the haul out and after climbing a small peak and then tripping through a drainage, I put an end to his enjoyment. At least we were able to conclude that the animal who's footsteps in the night had me stressed out were a Sitka deer enjoying a moist spring diet and not a wolverine or anything else.

We paddled along the eastern shore of the island and decided to skip the sea lion haul out this time around in favor of lunch at home. The glassy waters made for an enjoyable afternoon paddle. 

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