Miles from civilization and light pollution, we were enjoying the velvety black sky, glittery stars and a bug-free evening at Punta Pulpito when we looked down and saw something unusual surrounding the boat. Dozens of small, circular clouds of green phosphorescence appeared and then disappeared. At first glance, we thought they were mobius rays floating and diving causing plankton to be disturbed and illuminate. But studying the phenomenon further, we noted a glowing pea-sized ball floating to the surface. Immediately upon surfacing, it began erratically circling and zigzagging in on its track, all the while emitting a pea-sized trail of phosphorescence. Like it was peeing phosphorescent goo. Its busy-work ultimately created a 6”-12” glowing green circle that hovered for a few seconds, dissipating with the luminous ball falling back into the depths. Bizarre. And stunning.
Shrimps and cephalopods (like squid) emit glowing clouds, but I’ve since googled this phenomenon and due to their size and shape, the closest I can come up with is that it was a species of ostracod. Dubbed “sea firefly” or “marine fire flea”, I can only describe it as an organism within a translucent “shell”, like a firefly trapped in a bubble. I happen to prefer “firefly” as opposed to “flea” since imagining those things tangled in my hair snorkeling is not something I wish to dwell on. These bioluminescent fireflies arise from the sea floor at night and emit their phosphorescent mucus to a) attract a mate, or b) deter predators (shock and awe). Hey it worked for us! We were most-definitely shocked and awed. We’ve not seen such a display before or since. It seems every anchorage holds something new and wondrous.
It is a challenge to get onto land here; there seems to be no natural landing due to massive rocks lining the shore. Scraping an inflatable kayak along barnacle strewn boulders wasn’t an option. So we had to find flatish rocks on which to stand in about a foot of water, lift the kayak by its handholds and tandem-boulder-hop to shore, slipping on algae-slime while trying to avoid sliding into crevices where twisted ankles and chomping eels lurk.
After a minute, we set the ‘yak down on a flat rock while I took the paddles higher up on shore and out of our way. I turned around to head back the few feet to continue carrying. I had my hat on, my head down looking for footing… and promptly ran right into the ‘yak with my head. What the??!!
Brian did not think to tell me he had picked up the kayak all by himself and was carrying it overhead. The brim of my hat hid his actions from my view; the dipped kayak hid my path from his view. And thus, like star-crossed lovers, or colliding asteroids, we met…Wham! I rammed its bow with my face. Pause…picture that…
OK, now for the consequence of our miscommunication... Upon my unwitting head-butt, Brian lost his footing and he and the ‘yak toppled backward into the rock-strewn water… where he miraculously regained balance on a fortuitously located boulder, juuuust barely saving himself from breaking an ankle and the kayak from damage. Quite the Laurel & Hardy scene. Whew. Let’s just say we are probably never going to shore here again.
Why DID we go to shore? Three reasons.
- Because it’s there. Because we didn’t the last time we were here. Because I hadn’t been off the boat in 48 hours. OK, that’s technically 3 reasons right there.
- An enormous vein of obsidian rock can be found along the point; it’s visible for several miles out to sea. So this is a great spot for finding small bits of obsidian (so-called “Apache tears” according to the guidebook) which litter the dirt track “road” out to this point. Larger, peach-pit-sized shards of the black and shiny glass rock are also easily found. I could have stayed there for hours rock-hunting.
- I’ve stated before that Punta Pulpito means Pulpit Point because it looks like a preacher’s pulpit jutting out from its connecting low-lying land spit. I wanted to hike up to the top of that pulpit. It’s only 475ft high. What’s the problem?
The Pulpito Death March.
Why do you want to go up THERE? It’s not like you ever want to climb Kilimanjaro or anything?
He’s right, I’m not one to climb actual mountains. But just because this looks like a mountain, you can’t equate this teeny hike with Kilimanjaro. I mean, come on. But I do like a hike with a purpose, and the view from the top of that thing looks awesome. SO we’re going.
You’ve just heard the saga about getting to shore - so we’ve already started out on a low note. And it gets worse from there…we go the wrong way. I should know by now to start from the lowest lying base of the hill and hike the ridge all the way up. Instead, I start from the middle. The valley leading up to the ridge doesn’t look all that steep. Except when we finally get to the point where we need to scale the hillside, it’s near impossible to climb. Actually… not near-impossible. Just. Impossible.
The rocky hillside is one big potential landslide. Akin to hiking a sand dune, one step up equaled only a quarter-step gained. Scattered shale and sharp broken bits of rock slid down at each step up, enveloping our feet in a half foot of debris. Outcroppings that appeared as safe footholds instantly gave way under our weight. Our Keen hiking sandals were no match for the constant rock shards that tumbled into our shoes, ground under our soles and wedged between our toes. Ouch! Scrambling up at a faster rate only made things worse.
But the ridge is only just right there! We try to crawl up another shorter-looking slope to no avail. The gravel invading our sandals is shredding our feet; we remove our shoes and dump a pound of pebbles every few minutes. On top of the rock slides, we are over-heating in the severe sun. We are both panting and wavering in the heat. Brian has already guzzled down his water and mine is mostly gone. We decide to call it quits only half-way up…and begin the slide down.
Someday …I’ll get up there…when Brian’s memory fades about my head-butting-kayak incident and this hike from hell. I did get a couple good pictures from half-way up though!