Catalina Island Part I - Roughin' It

Last weekend, we went camping on Santa Catalina Island. If you have not been to this island, you should go. The beauty of the mountains and beaches are as attractive as the local’s friendly, laid-back culture. The island is located about an hour by boat from Long Beach, just south of L.A. On the island there are two main populated areas. The first, on the southwest side of the island is Little Harbor and has a few hundred people living in its village. It is so small that all 30 or so of the children in the area attend a one-room schoolhouse until high school.

The second populated area is called Avalon, which is on the east side of the island. Our campground, named Hermit Gulch, was located about a mile and a half from Avalon. It is just south of the botanical gardens and at the base of the mountain. By the time we arrived here, I was definitely ready to unload our packs containing a tent, two sleeping bags, two travel chairs, two bags of clothes, and a cooler.

Besides Avalon and Little Harbor, most of the rest of the island has been dedicated to the Catalina Island Conservancy and their mission is to preserve the island’s natural beauty and wildlife. Conveniently, a hiking trail was located just off the campground’s property. The trail showcased the island’s beauty, leading us straight up the mountain and along a ridge where we could see the sparkling Pacific on both sides as we walked along the ridge. In addition to this view, the clouds were rolling over the ridge, creating a very surreal atmosphere as we literally walked in the clouds.

The hiking was amazing, but the camping left quite a bit to be desired. I’m not an outdoorsy sort and had reluctantly agreed to camp instead of staying in a hotel. As it grew dusk, animals started came down from the mountain and into the campground. The park rangers had warned us that the animals were desensitized from humans and to be on the lookout, but I was still startled when I saw the first fox coming towards my tent. I screamed and he retreated, but it did not hold him off long and he came back a bit later. Sneaky little fox, indeed!

Then the deer began their descent. They did not mind us at all and trying to startle them was futile. At one point, I had gone to the public bathroom and could not make it back to our site due to the very large doe in my way. My flashlight, my stomps, and my yells did not deter her from the crumbs on the ground and I had to wait patiently until she moved on further into the campground.

During this animal invasion, Nate was smoking a cigar and I was talking to a child who was camping with his parents in the next site. His name was Isaiah and his excitement was contagious even though I was preoccupied with the deer and fox. Between my shrieks of fear about getting eaten by a deer and my wild arm movements and stomping at the foxes, Isaiah told us about his hiking and fishing escapades with his parents.

As it grew darker, he and his parents started roasting marshmallows. I had offered him some of my treats - a semi-hard, aged Manchego cheese from Beverly Hills Cheese Store (my new fave!), water crackers, and medjool dates, but he declined politely. I think that he thought my snacks were a sorry collection for a camping adventure because Isaiah soon came back to our campsite and sweetly offered me a perfectly browned marshmallow. The inside was gooey and tasted exactly like campfires I had enjoyed growing up. It made me a little nostalgic and that was when I found myself telling Nate that I wouldn’t mind camping again. Nate couldn’t have been more surprised by this promise! I think that the sugar of the marshmallow had gone to my head.

That night was sleepless as I listened to the animals rustling around outside my tent and the hard ground under my sleeping bag offered no forgiveness. In the morning, amidst the extremely loud caws of the crows and warbling of the quails, I shook Nate awake and told him I had changed my mind. There would be no more camping for me – absolutely not. He took my change of heart in stride and encouraged me to get ready to enjoy our second day on this beautiful island.

No comments:

Post a Comment