PIECES OF EIGHT CHANNEL ISLANDS
1. "Alice Eastwood and Blanche Luella Trask were friends, as well as associates. Miss Eastwood was also curator for the Department of Botany, California Academy of Sciences, so that we can expect some published material through Miss Eastwood of Mrs. Trask's findings."
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 (spanning 20 Years). Her winter home was located adjacent 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.
Blanche Trask also explored some of the desert mountains of the west, such as the San Jacinto Mountains, Colorado Desert, Death Valley, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and Yellowstone. Many people have acknowledged her contritubitions over the last 100 years. Scientists, in particular, have noted her contributions, but so have historian-writers, such as Adelaide Doran.
Adelaide Doran recognized the many facets of Blanche Trask, such as:
Adelaide Doran enlightens us that LA TIMES articles existed that were authored by Blanche Trask. The only error by Adelaide Doran is her persistent use of "Mrs." since Blanche Trask was divorced by 1897. It does not appear that Doran knew this about Blanche Trask.
Adelaide Doran was astute in recognizing that Blanche Trask and Alice Eastwood formed a kind of "mutual admiration society" for each other. Both women respected each other tremendously. Both were independent explorers in their own right. Both loved "wild"flowers and the wilds of the west, including high "wild" places of the mountains. Both loved trees especially. Today, we would most certainly call them ecofeminists. It seems that Adelaide Doran would be termed an ecofeminist as well. I would term myself an ecofeminist as well. Eastwood and Trask traveled together, as noted by Eastwood, but not verified yet in Trask writing. There is probably a treasure trove of letters and notes between the two women, in the archives of the California Academy of Sciences. Alice Eastwood did an inspiring eulogy of Blanche Trask, that was noted by Willis Jepson in 1916. Jepson noted that Alice placed sprigs and branches of Trask Mahogany on the casket of Blanche. A few months after the funeral, Alice Eastwood visited Catalina in the spring of 1917. Was this visit to Catalina, apparently Eastwood's visit, a "kind of good-bye to Blanche," and were ashes distributed on Catalina? Did Alice travel to Catalina to visit people who would have known Blanche Trask? Adelaide Doran appears not to have known about the funeral field notes of Willis Jepson, nor of the significane of Alice Eastwood's visit to Catalina, just 6 months after Blanche Trask's death.
Blanche Trask appreciated the desert landscapes of the southwest, as noted in her letters to Willis Jepson, but the California Channel Islands is her "sense of place." Indeed, the Channel Islands have a "desert feel" to them, if one spends some time on them. The Geography of Hope for Blanche Trask is undoubtedly Santa Catalina Island. Again, we do not see that Adelaide Doran recognized that Blanche Trask knew the desert and that the islands and the Channel Islands are linked by their mutual pattern of lower rainfall and aridity.
The above narrative was written and compiled by Robert Roy van de Hoek, December 7, 2000, for educational and inspirational purposes in the hope of someday adding the last three "southern" islands (San Clemente, San Nicolas, Santa Catalina) to the five islands that already make up Channel Islands National Park. Both Blanche Trask and Alice Eastwood would whole-heartedly approve of a "All Eight Channel Islands" National Park. It seems that Adelaide Doran, due to her historical bibliography of the EIGHT CHANNEL ISLANDS, also would be interested to learn that there is a movement to have all eight islands be a national park. It is only fitting that these three "southern" islands be added to the "name-sake" of the National Park. If not, I propose that we change the National Park name to more accurately reflect truth: "Eight Channel Islands-Minus Three National Park." My point is that this "great" National Park is not complete ("greater") as the current name would suggest. The northern Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel), all four together, are a much greater distance from Santa Barbara Island than the three in question. These three "southern" islands are not far from Santa Barbara Island, which, by the way, already is in the National Park. Each of the three "southern" islands is roughly 20 miles from Santa Barbara Island but in different compass directions. San Clemente is "South," San Nicolas is "West," and Santa Catalina is "East."
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