Pagan: 16 July 2010
The helicopter and airplane were due to arrive in the morning, and Mike wanted to have everything ready with the hope that the helicopter could take us up to the “lost world” in the southern crater so camp over night and do some trapping there. Loyal and Earl were coming in on the plane and Kurt was coming in on the helicopter. Christa and Scott were scheduled to go back to Saipan on the plane, but the helicopter was going to remain on the island for a number of days to shuttle people around. Since Christa was leaving, she had to spend the morning packing. There was a lengthy and tedious inspection procedure that she had to go through to make sure she wasn’t taking any stowaway critters back to Saipan. It didn’t look fun, but she, like all us, knows the importance of such precautions so there were no complaints. I went ahead and took down the traps from the Bandeera Peninsula. While I was up there, both the plane and the helicopter arrived. When I returned to camp, I learned that Kurt approved our helicopter drop at the south volcano. The plan was for Mike and Justin to camp on the rim of the crater and trap and collect inside. Stephan and I were to hike across the saddle to another patch forest where we would set up camp and collect. We heard that the snail team had found some native snails there. Stephan and I were both a little nervous since the planning for this trip seemed even more last minute than our previous boat trip to the southern part of the island.
I was also worried about my leg. It didn’t look like the purple patch had gotten bigger, but my lower leg and ankle seemed swollen and I thought I felt a tingling sensation up the inside of my thigh when I walked. I hadn’t shown it to anyone either, except for Jesse and some of the other camp guys who told me to soak it in the ocean the day before. I decided to show it to Tom, camp manager, before we left on the helicopter. When Tom looked at it he was very concerned and said we should go talk to Loyal and Earl. Once Loyal and Earl saw it, they almost without hesitation told me that I need to be flown back to Saipan.
From that point on everything happened pretty quickly – it was determined that I would be flown back to Saipan the next day where I could get some antibiotics – my Pagan adventure was over. They were a little disappointed that I hadn’t said something an hour earlier, before the plane left with Christa and Scott, because this meant the plane now would have to come back for me. I hadn’t really thought about it, but I was secretly a little glad that it happened that way, because I would have hated to have bumped Christa and Scott from that flight. When I walked back to the ento tent and told the guys, they were surprised. Mike thought I should still try to go on the volcano trip, but I was a little nervous about this for a variety of reasons. I’ve heard enough stories about infected wounds that I wasn’t comfortable taking any chances. Also, I would have to pack and be ready go as soon as the plane landed in the morning, and there was no guarantee that the helicopter would bring us back in time to make the flight.
So I decided not to go up to the volcano and just focus on getting all my stuff packed and ready to leave the next morning. As I watched the guys loading all their stuff on the helicopter and then flying away, I was suddenly feeling sad and depressed. Here was a once in a lifetime experience – to collect insects, spiders, and all manner of other awesome arthopods in area where they had perhaps never been collected before, and it had slipped through my fingers. At the same time I had a sense of relief that I was not going, because I was little worried about how it was all going to play out. So I was experiencing some conflicting emotions, not to mention that I felt like I was quitting in some way – I was going home almost a week earlier than planned, and I was leaving a lot of work undone. Then again, I was really happy that I wouldn’t have to ride on that boat again.
So I ended up sorting and getting bags and vials together of specimens that I would bring back with me to Bishop Museum so they could begin working on the IDs. I did a little more collecting in the ironwood forest near the runway and got a few pictures of the old Japanese bomber. I was going to do some trapping in the ironwood forest, but a big rain storm came through and basically lasted up through sunset. It was by far the heaviest rain we had experience while on the island and there was a lot of flooding and thunder and lightning. I wondered how the guys were getting along camped up on the rim of the volcano through all of that. Later that night after the storm, it was very still, so I ran a light trap down near the lower campsite, kind of close to the base of the Miari Cliffs. I felt like I got a number of new moths that we hadn’t seen before and some new beetles and other intersting insects that I hadn’t seen before. Finally, around midnight, I went to bed in my stuffy tent and slept my last night on Pagan.