INDEFATIGABLE PEDESTRIAN: BLANCHE TRASK
acknowledged by
CHARLES FREDERICK MILLSPAUGH
1923
in
A FLORA OF SANTA CATALINA ISLAND, CALIFORNIA


Trask, (Mrs.) (Luella) Blanche.
"Mrs. Trask lived on the island from 1895-1907, spending the winter months at Avalon and the summer at Fisherman's Cove, near the Isthmus. She was an indefatigable pedestrian and thought nothing of walking over the ridge trail from Avalon to the Isthmus and back in a day, or even making the trip one way in the night. During here residence she not only "became acquainted" with each individual tree on the island and knew of every spring and canyon far more intimately than the shepherds or any Native," but collected and distributed both botanical and ethnological specimens in great quantity. She died in San Francisco, November 11, 1916....The herbarium of the Field Museum contains 301 of her Catalina plants.

Sarcostemma ... "Festooning rocks. May." Mrs. Trask says: "In one locality it covers a great rock which, falling from an overhanging cliff, has nearly filled the narrow arroyo." This the only knowledge we have of this plant on Catalina."

Scrophularia villosa ... Mrs. Trask says (Erythea 7:140): "Beset with long glistening hairs. Its virgate flowering branches are two feet long and rise from four to six feet above one's head." Mrs. Trask appends to her plant label: "like silver candalabra."

"JUGLANS CALIFORNICA. Walnut. Several small trees up to 20 feet high, possibly introduced from the mainland, are growing near Farnworth Loop, about 1300 feet, on the summit road from Avalon to the Airport... "probably introduced, Fosberg,May, 12, 1931. The walnut could have been introduced on the island by the Indian inhabitants though it is strange that this distinctive tree would have been missed, especially along the Summit Road, by such botanists as Blanche Trask, L.W. Nuttall, and C.F. Millspaugh."


OBSERVATIONS of a 21st CENTURY NATURALIST
by
Robert Roy van de Hoek
December 2000
Blanche Trask, poet-explorer-naturalist, did most of her California wild nature exploration and writing on the Channel Islands of Southern California. She was a resident of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island in Los Angeles County, California from 1895 to 1915 (20 Years). Her winter home was located next to the Tuna Club in Avalon, but she also had a summer home at the Isthmus where the Institute of Environmental Studies of USC is currently located. However, she did travel to the deserts of the west as well and we know this through her correspondence such as in the following letter. Many people have acknowledged her contritubitions over the last 100 years. Scientists, in particular, have noted her contributions, such as Dr. Charles Frederick Millspaugh, former Curator of the Field Museum of Natural History, at Chicago.

Charles Millspaugh recognized the botanical exploration accomplishments of Blanche Trask in a curious way, by stating that she was an "indefatigable pedestrian."

From her letter to Willis Jepson, we know that Blanche Trask did appreciate the desert landscape scene of the southwest but the California Channel Islands is her "sense of place." Indeed, the Channel Islands have a bit of a "desert feel" to them. The Geography of Hope for Blanche Trask is undoubtedly Santa Catalina Island.

The narrative and quotes by Charles Millspaugh were written and compiled for educational purposes in hopes of someday adding Santa Catalina Island to the Channel Islands National Park. Santa Barbara Island, already in the National Park, is just about 20 miles west of Catalina. Another possibility is for Catalina Island to become part of the California State Parks system.

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