The trip’s first landing came with surprisingly strong winds and rough seas, and as a result I was recruited by the staff to help out. Having been informed of my duties less than a minute before boarding a zodiac I had only my hiking boots and gaiters on, and as a result of time standing in the ocean catching boats spent much of the day with very wet feet. It was a great day though — due to the lousy weather I put my camera away and headed off for a hike around the island. The hike started with a climb up a hill that offered terrific island views, followed by navigation through a skua nesting area (they attack), then some relaxing with two caracaras that were sitting a few feet away, and finally a half hour on a five hundred foot high cliff watching albatross hover on the wind only feet away. Rod Planck showed up on the horizon shortly thereafter, so he and I set off for a long hike along the cliffs, discovering some absolutely incredible scenery and amazing albatross and fur seal colonies along the way. One of the requests the Cheesemans made on the trip was that you always tell someone where you’re going when hiking, and when it occurred to me that I had only told Rod where I was headed, and that he had only told his hiking plans to me, we set off back towards the landing area. Skuas divebombed us for a bit on the walk back, and caracaras watched our every move, but it was a really, really enjoyable time.
Following our trek around the island the weather began to clear up, so we made the brief walk across the island to the rockhopper colony, where we saw wave after wave of rockhopper penguin coming ashore. In addition, Tim came over to point out an albatross that was having flight issues due to the sudden lack of wind (“the poor dumb sucker has been bouncing off of rocks all day”), Rod produced a bag of his gorp (made with only the highest quality peanuts), and one of the passengers surprised us all by uttering what may be the first use of the word “peckerhead” by anyone in the world so far in the new year. Good day.