Day 156, Year 1: A Walk to the Top of Santa Cruz
Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Weather at Anchorage: No Change–sunny, clear blue skies
Daytime Air Temperature: No Change–82 degrees F daytime
Water Temperature: No Change–77 degrees F
Location: Academy Bay, Puerto Ayoro, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

We met Doug and Sylvia of Windcastle in town for breakfast this morning and then took off in a taxi for Bella Vista. That is the next town to the north and the place where you take off to walk to Mount Crocker, the highest point on the island at 864 meters.

Sylvia had arranged for the taxi and the driver was willing to take us up the mountain as far as he could drive, and then walk with us to the very top of the island. It took less than 20 minutes to get to Bella Vista and then we started the slow drive up the bumpy mountainous road. On the way up, we passed coffee and banana plantations. Once we were out of the plantation zone, we drove a little ways on up and then Jose Louis, our driver, parked the taxi and we started our walk. We walked through various vegetation zones, and we walked, and we walked and we walked. The climb was gradual, but it was a tough climb for all of us. It took us about two hours to reach the top, but the view was certainly worth it. It was a wonderfully clear day and we could view Santa Cruz and the surrounding islands with a 360 degree angle. We could see the Daphne Islands, Sante Fe Island, and San Cristobal. We could look down on Puerto Ayora and Tortuga Bay where we walked on Saturday. The view really was phenomenal and made us all feel good about pushing to the very top.

Sylvia and Doug had to make a 1400 launch back to San Cristobal, so once we basked in the glory of making it to the top, we walked very quickly back down. We made a quick stop at Bodega Blanca, the amazing little marine store here, and then to the dock to have a quick lunch before Doug and Sylvia had to leave. We hope to see them again when we reach Isabella. They are great fun and we love exploring with them. Doug got his Masters in geology from University of California Berkeley and then went to work in the aerospace industry at JPL. He has spent much of his professional life studying the geology of Io, the moon of Jupiter that is very, very volcanically active, and he is actually a world expert in the study of sulfur compounds associated with volcanic action. Since we were walking up the side of a volcano all morning, Doug was able to point out geologic details.

While Mark, Sylvia, and Doug were at Bodega Blanco, I walked around the corner to the Naugala office. Johnny Romero was there and he told me that Randy of Procyon had not improved and was being flown to the mainland of Ecuador. We saw his wife Sherri in town before heading back to Windbird, and we sent our best wishes with her. It is the fear of all sailors that some medical problem like this should happen in remote areas. Everyone here seemed to be working to do the best they could, but simply do not have the equipment to do the testing required to properly diagnose Randy’s problem. Hope with us that he will have a speedy recovery and will be back with us here in the Galapagos soon.

Tomorrow we are taking the day off to prepare for Heather and Jed’s arrival on Friday. We can’t wait to share with them the amazing things we are seeing here.

060322 Day 156 Cerro Crocker, Santa Cruz, Galapagos