Friday, September 5, 2008

On a deserted island

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Labor Day weekend was spent in a way I've never spent a weekend before: camping, along with about 25 other people, on a deserted island 60 miles off the coast of LA (a 5-hour boat ride one way). The island - San Miguel, part of the Channel Islands National Park - is remote, desolate, windswept and fucking amazing. The only thing even remotely paved is the short airstrip the Ranger and park biologists use to enter and exit the island, and it's basically a dirt road. There are a few buildings on the island, but not even a pier - unless you fly, in order to get to it, after taking a 5-hour boat ride, you have to get in a small skiff and basically raft ashore.

But once you land (and once you lug your gear, including all the water you'll be drinking and cooking with, a mile uphill to the campsite) you're somewhere else entirely. The ground - alternately sand, scrub and spiky trees - looks almost alien, as in fact you, the visitor, are (an alien). There's not a lot of animal life on the island, except for a few foxes, some crows, and some mice (which carry a hantavirus (ebola is a subspecies of hantavirus)).

Oh, and about 26,000 sea lion pups.

San Miguel Island is in fact comparable to the Galapagos Islands in terms of pupping activity, and is one of the most diverse pupping locations on the planet, since it's also home to seals of several different varieties.

TODO: pictures, what we did.

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