July 16 – Taking a Break on Brown Island

When I got up I felt like I had slept in but it was only 8:30. I had set up the bowl under the drip line overnight and it collected even more water than the previous evening when I dozed off for a couple hours in the rain. I was surprised by this because I heard rain in the night but I thought it only was a shower for about 15 minutes. It must have been at least a few hours long though to be able to collect that much water. How deceptive.

Since the weather seemed better, today would be another break day, this time to dry out, not to get soaked.

The water was calm at low tide. It really quietens down at low tide here and the waves from the swell almost disappear. But then when the tide comes up so do the waves. It must have something to do with the bathymetry of the shore which attenuates the waves at low tide.

Looking back up Smith Inlet

The odd boat went by, but most of the boats went by on the other exposed side of the island because that's where the open ocean is. Every boat that goes up the coast has to go by there. I could hear them but not see them. Only boats that have a specific reason for entering Smith Sound went by me here, and that totaled two over the two days.

The panoramic views from this spot are quite something. You can see from the south, all the way eastwards and towards the north, all through Smith Sound. You can see the weather as it rolls in.

There were also many planes flying north and south right over me. I guess this is a major flyway.

Indian paintbrush

The weather turned sunny and I took out my 70-200 lens with the teleconverter to start taking some photos.

As I was in the meadow a hummingbird came by. Great! She wasn't shy and I could maybe get some good shots of a bird in a flower.

Then this happened!

That actually would have been a nice shot of a hummingbird in a flower. But what the hell was going on? Suddenly everything fogged up! I freaked out and tried to locate the source of the fog, and unfortunately it wasn’t between the lens and camera, it was inside the lens. I have heard of lenses being ruined in the Amazon when persistent fog caused fungus to grow and etch the glass. And this was no cheap lens!

I didn’t know what to do. This was obviously happening because of all the humidity in the bags over the last few days seeping into the lens, and then when put in the warm sunshine it condensed out. The only thing I could do was lay it on my sleeping bag under the tarp, separated from the camera, and leave it to air out.

So then I took out my 70-300 lens which is a cheaper, though still expensive, lens. And almost immediately it did the same thing! I opened it up too and laid it out. Then I took out my little 35 f/1.8. It happened again! I laid it out. Then I took out my wide angle Sigma, and luckily nothing happened with that one. I attribute that to sloppier build quality…

Anyways, after about 1/2 hour, to my great relief, they aired out, as good as new.

I took advantage of the sunshine to charge my batteries. So it turns out I hadn't needed my computer batteries last night to charge them after all.

Brilliant white sand, like a tropical isle, too bright to look at in the sun.

Man, when the sun came out, I was roasting under the tarp! Outside wasn't any better in the bright reflections from the sand. There were a few showers now and then but they didn't amount to much.

I went tidepooling. Here are two genetically determined colour variants of the ochre star. These happen to eat mussels, which is the answer to the skill testing question the other day about why some logs are clean of mussels while others aren't (some logs can be accessed by stars at high tide, while others can't).

That's a limpet on the left on pink coralline algae, next to a big closed up green surf anemone

Tidepool sculpin

Scapula from a large mammal that died and washed up here, probably a sea lion.

The ball of the shoulder from the same animal. There were a few bones lying around from this carcass.

Yellow monkey flower

I listened to the weather report which was improving. I went over to the next cove to see what was there, and immediately found something interesting…

I found the reason for the island's name, gushing into the sand.

Literally, like tea.

I filled up my empty water jugs with it just in case I needed it, but I would only drink it as a last resort. It tastes a little funny, but I don't know if it's harmful.

I started thinking about how much carbon gets leached from the forests by this tannin tea. It must be significant. In most forests the carbon that is absorbed from the atmosphere is released back as CO2 when the matter breaks down on the forest floor, or if the forests burn. But here, it is so wet that decomposition is incomplete and it simply washes out. It probably doesn’t always flow intensely brown like this; most likely it’s because it is the height of summer and soil activity is higher.

Another way forests release carbon back into the atmosphere is through direct release of isoprene through their leaves. I find nutrient cycling in ecosystems interesting, because we are all part of that. All our food comes from there.




Returning to nature

The beautiful little windswept wildflower meadow

A grey whale came by the kelp line about 20 meters off shore. There were whales everywhere. You only have to stand and watch for 15 minutes and you are bound to see one. Greys feed by sifting mouthfuls of mud through their rakers to separate out the shellfish. They spend the summers up here and migrate south to Mexico for the winter to have babies, most in Bahia San Ignacio on Baja California.

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