08 August 2014

Maritime Meet-Up 2014 - Part Three

MARMU (Maritime Meet-Up) 2014's second day began with a fair amount of rain before anyone woke up. I provided the group with some absolutely horrible instant coffee before we packed our bags and tore down the tents. Some tidying occurred and we left Strawberry cleaner than it was when we arrived.

That's my big, heavy pack with the bright green tent attached.

We packed out. Someone (It was me) thought it would be a good idea to lead everyone out the front gate, into the tallest, wettest grass. There were no wood ticks, they'd obviously drown. Soaked, I cursed my boots and changed pants and socks when we hit the main road.

We hid and camouflaged our packs and headed north toward Hugonin Battery. I recommend doing the same if you're leaving anything unattended on the island for any amount of time. Theft of supplies is something friends of mine experienced first hand on the island years ago. I've heard of other instances, with long term campers often getting the blame.

Hugonin Battery was good for me. I'd never seen the gun emplacements first hand. Among them, we found a deer carcass. It had no smell whatsoever, even hovering over it with a camera and tripod. Mint plants, go figure. It was all we could smell.

From Hugonin, we were off to Fort Ives.. Making several stops along the way to poke around creepy, ransacked cabins.

If I recall correctly, everyone had been to the island before and no one expected to see many new developments considering how much of it is abandoned. We didn't find anything new to speak of but Fort Ives was about to deliver.

We poked around the grounds, and ate a quick lunch before examining a suspicious, recently created hole punched through the cinder blocks that sealed Fort Ives decades ago.

It was quickly determined that the punched hole was important. Everyone hurried in to take a look. It was pretty remarkable, really. I went to Fort Ives expecting nothing more than a quick picnic as it's been sealed quite well for a very long time. 

Inside Fort Ives we found a large room with a small entry way to a long tunnel with a high arched ceiling. The tunnel led to several other large rooms, many or all serving as magazines for guns above.

It was significantly cooler inside Fort Ives- a good ten or fifteen degrees cooler. It was damp. Wooden fixtures such as door and window sills have decomposed in place and would turn to mush when touched.

There was very little trash and minimal graffiti, some of it dating to the 1970s. Debris covered the floors of the deeper rooms but much of it was bits of material that had fallen from the walls and ceiling over decades.

There were plenty of opportunities to get hurt inside the fort. The floor pictured above has a gap about one metre wide that extends wall to wall with a drop of approximately two metres to debris at bottom. It would make for a nasty fall. There is no light inside making several capable lights a necessity. 

Fort Ives, from the outside, appears to have potential for passageways to be above the rooms we found ourselves in. Access to above was not obvious, however in the corner of one of the assumed magazine rooms there was what could be a passageway in the ceiling. 

Of course there was no getting up there. Best we could do with the equipment we were carrying was to boost a camera with an extended tripod.

No definitive answer as to what's up there though. Trevor's photo showed the passageway could take a turn several metres forward. Next time, perhaps. 

Above is a magazine elevator. It doesn't elevate anything these days though. Thoroughly seized. We explored the rooms and passageways as much as possible and headed back outside to finish walking Fort Ives. 

After crawling into some awfully small holes, we were again in interesting spots we'd never been before.

Time was getting tight. We left Ives, and passed by the island's old houses on the way back to the beach. We collected our well hidden belongings, and called Captain Taylor to tell him we were headed toward Wreck Cove.

Next time, we'll play the tides right and depart when it's high. The hike down the beach to the ferry was miserable. Just a combination of soft footing, a heavy pack, and exhaustion. Captain Taylor met us half way, it could have been worse.

The group landed at Fisherman's Cove in Eastern Passage where we said our good-byes, all agreeing we'd need to do it again next year!

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