“Dani, can you come braid my hair?”
Today started off at 3:30 AM for our second Sunrise Hike. Luckily, the sky was clear and the stars were out shining above our heads like beacons in the night. Since our feet were familiar with the path, we had an easier time hiking and no ended up hiking with a flashlight. The hike is 1.4 miles and it took us approximately 10 minutes less than the Sunrise Hike on Friday. Some of the spots were so dark that we believe that Renee was on her hands and knees, but the hike was very successful. During the hike the sky was illuminated with the stars, which gave us the ability to see up to nine shooting stars. Also were able to see many satellites and space junk. When the sun began to rise we noticed a faint unfamiliar object in the distance. We really thought it was a raft. Later with the help of Captain Morgan’s good binoculars we were able to see that it was a sailboat with people on it. After sitting on top of Ram’s Head for an hour and fifteen minutes this is the gorgeous view that we saw when the sun began to rise.
Here is another view of our sunrise through a cactus.
During our entire hike and time on Ram’s Head we were supposed to remain silent. However, watching the sunrise was such a fun bonding experience we couldn’t resist chit-chatting with each other. By the look of this picture you can tell how we all were feeling bright and early after the most beautiful sunrise ever! Right after the picture we scurried down mountain so that we could come back to VIERS to eat breakfast. Even though it wasn’t Donkey Diner, the VIERS volunteers are absolutely fantastic because they kept food warm for us.
When we arrive in the kitchen each morning for breakfast Randy Fish updates us on our daily water consumption. Their goal is that each person uses no more than 14 gallons of water each day. This morning we broke the record by only using 12.1 gallons per person, which means that we got a special dessert for dinner (Freshly baked cherry pie!)!!! GO HOLLINS AND BARD COLLEGE!!!!
After breakfast we all gathered at Little Lameshur to pick up trash. We picked up 253 items weighing 10 pounds and 11 ounces. There was less trash than last year. (We just were informed that it will be 25 degrees when we return to Roanoke tomorrow! YUCK!!! ) Following out hot, tiring trash pickup some of us were eager to get in the water. We headed out to Little Lameshur and snorkeled for a while to collect more data for our research projects. We all were able to swim over and see a juvenile spotted drum (See picture below). Renee was so filled with spontaneous joy that she did a cartwheel on the beach. A cartwheel, handstand, and flipping contest ensued. Dani did 17 cartwheels in a row, whereas Caleb was not so successful. With all this fun it was time to head to VIERS for lunch. For lunch, the fantastic VIERS volunteers cooked delicious chicken enchiladas with rice and beans and various toppings for lunch. The enchiladas were so ginormous that everyone was in a food coma and passed out after lunch.
Spotted drum in Little Lameshur
When Mama Renee called all here chickadees to wake up (ugghh), we got ready and hiked up to Yawzi Point. This year there was a lot more new growth of elkhorn and staghorn coral which was beautiful and a sign that the coral reef is coming back to life there. It was an amazing sight to see life coming back! Everyone snorkeled for about 2 hours. During this time we saw many species of fish including spotted and smooth trunkfish, honeycomb cowfish, a 5-foot long barracuda and a 6-foot long nurse shark (which was amazing to follow). During our stay here at VIERS we met Lindsey who is staying here to do sediment research for six months. She has joined us in many of our adventures here, including today at Yawzi. She is quite amazing at spotting and identifying many things including swim through tunnels.
Here is one of the species we saw ( A Hawksbill Turtle!).
Here is the tunnel that was at least 15 feet deep that Lindsey and Asya led Sarah and Hannah through, but Wilson, Renee, Maddie, Mya also swam through the tunnel!!! Ourselves (Kristie and Molly), Kristin, and Caleb attempted but didn’t quite make it through! This makes a great goal for all of us next year!!
This is Maddie entering the tunnel.
This is Hannah exiting the tunnel.
This is some of our group during our last group snorkel at Yawzi Point!
Some of us headed over to Great Lameshur to finish collecting data or to get in one last snorkel. We saw another nurse shark, green sea turtle, and an octopus!! Unfortunately some of us were getting cold and had to end of last snorkel. Everyone was able to head back and grab a hot shower before cracker and cheese and chocolate meeting, pretty much right before dinner. Dinner was quite yummy as usual. Afterwards some broke out in ping pong, the ring game, dance, blogging (us!) and a line for Dani to french braid everyones’ hair. The braiding line occurs on a daily basis before and after swimming. She really could make some mula out of it! I think she hears, “Dani, can you come braid my hair at least 10 times a day!!!! Upcoming activities for this evening includes a campfire, sing-along, and a walk down to the dock to gaze at the stars. Overall this has been the most amazing learning experience and we all have had so much fun that some of us are funned out ( But not really). We are sad to leave and return to the cold, but we look forward to our adventures to come with Mama Renee and Captain Morgan!!! :D
Signing off – Kristie (The Freckle Queen, says Caleb (the little brother that I never had……) and Molly (Sea turtle fanatic, says Caleb)