I was invited to tag along on a boat trip to Ataku Island, location of a WWII era lookout bunker and home to some cranberries our boat captain had noticed on a trip earlier this year. Located near Biorka Island some miles south of town, I had been down that far in a boat in a few times, but never actually on any of the islands in the area, so it seemed like a nice opportunity.
Along the way, the seas were impressively calm (for October), with only a small swell rolling in from the Gulf of Alaska. The forecast for the day was occasional showers, and they seemed to come in the form of bands of precipitation moving through. Fortunately we left the dock as one band was reaching Sitka, and passed through another band shortly before reaching our destination (which the showers had just moved beyond), so it was a fairly dry time with a reasonable amount of sun. From the boat we saw many whales spouting (mostly in the distance). A nice rainbow made an appearance, and we also got to have some good looks at a new-for-me bird, the Cassin’s Auklet (I’ll post more about that separately).
It took a little over an hour to make the run down to where we were headed, a narrow gap between Ataku and Tava Islands. It appeared to me like they would actually be connected at a low tide (which it was not at the time we were there) by a white sand beach (I did not look closely enough to see whether it was white because of shell origins, or from the source rock). The rock in the area is not the graywacke that dominates the geology along the road system. I am not completely sure, but I think it was a sort of granite. In any case, it was lighter in color, and definitely had different weathering patterns than graywacke.
Relatively small in size, Ataku Island is impressively steep in places. I suspect this is due in part to the underlying geology, but the highest knobs were probably over 150 feet in elevation (though I don’t really know how much higher). Mostly it was forested, with a couple of small more or less untreed areas, and on the southern outer slopes it was a very open forest with fairly stunted trees.
[more details to come: Porella (no pictures), interesting microhabitats (open areas partly deer maintained? different forest types), some cranberries, set of steep-sided knolls. WWII remains, including observation bunker. Various mushrooms.]