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Ellen McCallie's Diary

Photo: the glacierDay 5: Rest Day

I am not booked for this day, so I get up, gather an armload of plant and bird books and set off as soon as it gets light, which happens about 8 am. I keep forgetting to get a bird list from the visitor center; I hope they have one. I do see the native pigeon, a huge bird, as well as some passerines, also natives, but most of the birds seem to be British introductions — how disappointing! Thank goodness we are now learning to appreciate our native plants and animals. All these introduced species just cause havoc to ecosystems.

Photo: fernsI spend most of my time trying to sort out the various species of tree ferns. It isn't that there are so many species — only 6 or 7 if I remember correctly — it's that I have to train my eye to see the differences in them quickly. Thinner stalk vs other kinds of stalks? Rough leaves, soft leaves, or other? Scales or hairs on the new leaves? Aerial roots? It takes time touching and looking over and over and over and over. Four hours later, I felt like I had a solid hold on the two genera and thus could distinguish tree ferns from each other at a distance.

At noon, Kathy came trucking by in a sleeveless shirt and jeans. I was bundled up completely. I stripped down to two layers and set off on a brisk jaunt with her. Very refreshing. We hiked to the Callery River, heading toward the glacier. We had to take another track back instead of hitting the glacier because we had a 2:30 pm planning and safety meeting. When we got there, Steve, the producer, had his head in his hands, worried sick. He just needs to get over the first day of filming. He's been preparing for this program for almost a year.

Now, it's 2 am your time. Kate's cooking for Kathy and me. If lunch is like last year, it may be a bit light or depressing. We need food!

Speaking of the need to keep warm, most of us are wearing every bit of clothing we brought — at the same time. I've even got to pick up an extra thermal top from Kate. It is freezing.

Photo: Ricky the chefSteve called a meeting to discuss the dinner and filming situation. They hired a very good local cook, Ricky, to prepare dinner for us and to interact with us in the evenings. Pippa is filming it on a small DV camera. It was made very clear that the idea behind these filmed dinners is to create a casual way to see another side of our personalities. It is not to be like the survivor-type shows. Let's give it a try.

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Photo: Ellen McCallie
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