By mid-afternoon the anchor was down in Rosita Harbour, a few miles along the coast at the edge of the Bay of Isles. We bustled ashore for a walk. The narrow beach was fringed with tussac grass where fur seals lounged about on the hummocks enjoying the sun. (There are no penguins here, perhaps the reason so few boats stop here.) On the first ridge a young giant petrel sat enduring the last of its moult, determined not to move.
Moving up the valley, the tussac grass faded to smaller grass, just one or two centimeters high which waved from green beds. As we climbed, these too give way to many different vibrant moss beds, startlingly lush and green. Soon, entering the grey/black/ochre scree, their place was taken by thin mats of moss and in turn to lichen, first green then rust and brown, occasional flashes of white. Black lines, quite big and shaggy, striped the lichen, where perhaps streams run sometimes
Before long, it was just rocks. Scree, sharp chunks of rock underfoot rising in great dunes and ridges. Ahead steep peaks played with veils of cloud. We walked across rock bridges over glaciers, through water running and splashing into ice pools, under ice tunnels, chattering through rocks and moss to the nearby sea.
In an island filled with life at the fringes, the desert comes fast as you move in and up. Just a mile from the hectic beach is cold air, rock and ice. We walked back down the slopes as the sun began to set.
Europa lay at anchor in Rosita Harbour that night. A magnificent pale orange moon rose in the south east, casting a beacon light across the Bay of Isles. Stars came out overhead, the bright Southern Cross and the hazy Magellanic Clouds at home here in the south. On shore the seal pups were still crying and calling, an unending, eerie birdlike sobbing.