CAMPING, HIKING AND OTHER TRIPS 5
29th December 1984 - North Arm
Matt G, John S, Bill J, John H, Mike S, Pat N, Dave (Nanook) N, Ray K, Ewan S and me went to North Arm, way down to the south of East Falkland. The "camp" was definitely getting drier. The area south of Goose Green is called Lafonia and is very flat, which helps "camp" driving. We started at 6.15 pm which was after dinner and later than previous trips. It was getting dark after crossing the suspension bridge into Lafonia and both Ray and Matt started going too far left towards Walker Creek. I managed to stop Ray but Matt disappeared into the dark. We waited some time for him to realise something had happened and to return.
We camped and found the southerly track the next morning. Tracks in Lafonia weren't so well used by landrovers, so they tended to be just marks in the grass and more difficult to see at night. Apart from negotiating a ricketty bridge we got to North Arm with little trouble.
A notice at the entrance to North Arm said "**** of North Arm beware of children mad dogs and crawling drunks! pop 62". The first word had been painted over. We walked around the settlement, looking at the wool sheds with the luncheon vouchers (turkey vultures) perched on roofs waiting for carcasses.
Lafonia trip to Walker Creek on 24th February 1985
North Arm welcome sign on 30th December 1984
We drove south-east from North Arm for a few miles then parked and had a walk. At an estuary near Shag Rookery Point I was driving along the shore when I saw a disturbance in the water. I got out to look and saw hundreds of fish 18" long or more playing close together where a fresh water stream exited. A night heron was nearby, but the fish were bigger than it was.
At one stage on our return through Lafonia we went on different tracks and lost sight of each other. When this happens, you are never sure if you should race on to catch up or turn round and go back. Nanook was on one track and I was on another and John H was following me. I had just briefly seen Nanook's landrover and started to cut across to his track, but after a while John H behind stopped and turned round. I caught Nanook at a bridge, but John hadn't ever seen Nanook's landrover and had gone back to see if he needed help. I had to back-track then to fetch John. It showed the importance of keeping in sight of one another.
We called in at the Argentine cemetery on the way home. Ray went onto the summer track on the return journey after Swan Inlet. It was much wetter than when we had used it the previous season. Tyres started sinking through the grass skin, slowing the vehicles. If you watched another landrover you saw a big bow-wave in front of the tyres. Some power, low gear and low ratio was needed to keep going, spraying water and wet peat everywhere, without using so much power that wheels spun and broke through completely. No bog-ins though.
5th January 1985 - Chancho Point and Ajax Bay
John G, Dave D, Matt G, Mike S, John S, Pat N, Ray K, Dave N, Ewan S and me set off to San Carlos. Tracks were getting drier by the week. We found the tide in at Hell's Kitchen so we camped there. Next morning the tide was in again so I took Dave into the river in our landrover to see if we could crawl along the bank upstream to a shallower point. Mike S was walking alongside egging me on as the water came into the floor pan and Dave squatted on his seat with his back against the roof. The water was about a foot deep inside the landrover on his side. We were only inching along at hardly more than idle speed but the exhaust was still bubbling out although the pipe was well under water. We gave up and I reversed. My bag, which was on top of thick de-bogging boards in the back, had a tide mark on it.
We went back to the previous estuary, went inland and straight up Sussex Mountains as we had on my first trip over a year before. When we crossed the normal track to San Carlos we decided to go west towards Chancho Point. The ground was very churned up by BVs and still very wet. I was the last landrover to negotiate a narrow ridge barely wider than the landrover between two quagmires and my landrover literally slipped off the edge where it had been loosened by the first rovers. After some more difficult driving past some missile sites Dave got bogged, then we gave up and returned, stopping so that some could climb down to the Ajax Bay refrigeration plant building.
This was probably our worst trip for bog-ins. I got stuck again later on soft green grass that just gave way, but not totally bogged, then Matt got bogged twice, once on the top near Stirling M's bog-ins, then bogged cutting a corner on the estuary after Hell's Kitchen at the place where James M had done the same going the other way a year before.
We passed a huge pile of sheep fencing in the middle of an estuary which had a red kite's nest on top. In December 1985 it was still there with a red kite as well and I took photos.
13th January 1985 - Hawk's nest Rocks on the Fitzroy River north of Fitzroy
No one else seemed to be keen to go out after a party the night before, so John S and I went to walk around coves near Fitzroy then went on to Hawk's Nest Rocks and had a picnic there. The new Stanley Road had got to this point by this time.
27th January 1985 - Figas tour of Carcass Island, Chartres and Bleaker Island
Some of us booked an Islander FIGAS flight to tour the islands: Wickham, John G, Dave D, Ian W, (all G & T), Ray K, Stirling M, Mike R (all PCA land surveyors), Ewan S and Dave N (Alexander Gibb). We went to Carcass Island to see elephant seals, penguins, caracaras and night herons, to Chartres where we saw sheep shearing, to Bleaker Island where we saw a colony of rockhopper penguins. On the way back we flew over the site, getting a good aerial view. It was lovely summer weather.
Almost all the birds and seals were unafraid of us and we got very close. Some people in the past had sat on the side of the elephant seals to have their photo taken, but the warden said they were not allowing anyone to touch them from then on. However, at a gull colony where we were walking between gulls' nests a skua kept diving at our heads. I had one hit my rucksack with its legs quite hard and another hit my head with its wing. No one actually got pecked, they seemed just to hit us.
On Bleaker Island the farmer took us to the penguin colony on a sled behind his tractor made out of an old landrover body on skids. It was far less bumpy than a landrover trip as the skids straddled each tussock instead of bumping over them. It was very dusty though.
Carcass Island on 27th January 1985; Stirling M standing
Tractor and sled at Bleaker Island on 27th January 1985
Sheep shearing and main runway aerial view
Elephant seals and penguins
Caracaras and night herons
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