If you carefully worked through all of my clues, you may have figured out my destination for my little adventure: Shackleford Banks, a nine mile long uninhabited barrier island that is the southern-most part of Cape Lookout National Seashore. Uninhabited, that is, except for 100 wild horses, many birds, an occasional loggerhead turtle, and millions of biting insects. There is no water that is drinkable by humans. There are brackish ponds that the horses drink from, but they are too saline for us. So we each will be carrying about 28 pounds of water and Gatorade, which should last us the 50 hours we will be on the island.
The original plan was to go Friday morning and come home Sunday, but the "Andrea"changed that. We have to take a boat over and back, and they were not going to be running Friday. So instead, we will catch a boat over about 9AM Saturday and come back to the mainland about noon Monday. That should give us time to explore all nine miles of the island, and its many ecological zones: maritime forest, “ghost” forest, wetlands, dunes, and beach. Depending on the biting flies and mosquitoes, we may end up being on the beach a lot. There is supposed to be spectacular seashells here, and so I will be looking hard for those. We may also try a little fishing in the surf, and hopefully some star-gazing at night. And if we are incredibly fortunate, maybe we will see a female loggerhead coming up to nest late one night.
Once the boat drops us off, I see us hiking no more than 2-4 miles with our heavy packs. We’ll find a good campsite, set up our tents, and leave the drinking water (most of it) and food behind as we explore. My pack weight will go from about 54 pounds to maybe 15 at this point. Because of the heavy amounts of water we need to each bring, we are carrying minimal gear – no sleeping bags, for example, and no rain gear. The lows are expected to be about 75 and the highs 85. So my sleeping bag liner should be good enough to sleep in, and a little emergency rain jacket should do if a sudden downpour comes up. We are carrying one stove and one first aid kit among the three of us. None of us plans on cooking anything other than an instant meal in a bag, so we won’t have to carry precious water to wash dishes. I am bringing a warm fleece and an emergency “space blanket,” just in case. And there is no need to carry a water filter, as there is no fresh water to filter - although, I would not be surprised to find some fresh water pools after the soaking rain of last Friday.
I will be bringing my camera, GPS, and binoculars, of course. I hope to see some great wildlife, collect some cool shells, and take some nice photos while I am out there those three days, so look for some updates later this week.
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