Day 6 – Exploration of the Unknown

January 20, 2012

 

I woke up motivated to run. With no idea where to go but a map in hand I trekked over to the Clipper House for breakfast at what I thought was an obnoxiously early time. To my surprise, a table full of Dukies were already immersed in eggs and bacon.

I consulted with my professor for the best running routes, ate eggs and took off. I was headed for the other side of the island – running a path that went across the runway and along a closed beach.

The first issue was the runway. I was told time and time again to take care and cross only at the designated crossing points and that they were clearly marked. They lied. The first crossing point had a tiny biker symbol painted on the path 20 feet before the runway so I assumed I was in the right place. The second crossing point had a warning sign and the third place was entirely unmarked. I ended up crossing the edge of the runway and running along the side until I met back up with the trail.

On this side of the island, Black-footed albatross provide a stronger presence and attempted to thwart my running goals. They walk in an angry-old-man-fashion and aggressively fly at you while clapping their beaks. I stopped running and walked timidly past mumbling, “It’s ok, I’m not here to hurt you, I’m just walking past, leaving now….”

A five-mile run took over an hour – I could not resist stopping at every moment to snap a few pictures. When the fairy turns joined me for a short time, they flew away the moment I got my camera ready. I think they knew…

Back from the run and showered, we finished the tour of the island. Stopping along the path of my run we watched as a Laysan albatross egg begin to hatch! If it is successful it will be the first Laysan chick on the island! (Black-footed and short-tailed have already hatched)

After lunch we partook in giving back to the island. We spent an hour pulling out verbaceena and planting plank grass, albatross walking among us, nesting birds snapping at our feet. It was interesting – many of us took to talking to the birds. Letting them know we were working to make their nests more suitable for survival, telling them how much their chicks would love the plank grass – they are such amazing animals!

With time to spare before dinner a small group of us took off exploring. We found a forest of ironwood trees, stark contrast to the ideal sand and grasses. It was odd seeing albatross sprinkled throughout such a dense forest – sea birds do not belong under trees!

After dinner we awaited the arrival of the VIPs. Big wigs from NOAA, Fish and Wildlife Service and other monument managers were coming in to assess parts of the island. Unfortunately, there is not enough money to save and restore all of these amazing historical places and hard decisions must be made to prioritize. Places like the famous Midway Island theatre will most likely not make the list…

Anyone want to start a fund? We would most likely only need around 60 million…

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