Surviving on the Island: Chapter 20

Artist’s impression of the Lone Woman in Cave of the Whales on San Nicolas Island. Illustration by Michael Ward.
Artist’s impression of the Lone Woman in Cave of the Whales on San Nicolas Island. Illustration by Michael Ward.

Karana continues to gather food for winter: abalone, small fish, roots, and seeds. She and Rontu also visit Tall Rock by canoe, where Karana kills 10 cormorants. She will use their skins and dark feathers to make a skirt for herself.

On one canoe trip, Karana and Rontu explore Black Cave on the south side of the island. This sea cave has a low entrance and two rooms—the farthest room is large and lit from above by sun shining through a crack in the ceiling.

When she tries to paddle out of the cave, Karana sees strange tall figures, including a skeleton, on a ledge above the entrance. The tide comes in and the rising water closes off the entrance, trapping Karana and Rontu inside. They spend the night in the sea cave and paddle out with the first morning light.

Karana hides the canoe in the cave below the headland near her home. She notices a ship on the horizon and believes that it belongs to the Aleuts because it has two red sails. Karana packs her belongings, and she and Rontu move into the cave near the ravine to avoid being seen by the hunters.

Last updated: June 26, 2018