Waking up on the second full day on trail was amazing. After a warmer night’s sleep, I woke up well-rested and watched the sun rise behind the mountain next to Blackjack Campground, as Mountain Berry and I sat snuggled in our sleeping bags on top of the nearby picnic tables.
After a muddy end to the day before, plus almost sinking in what I thought was a good place to clean my shoes off, my shoes and socks that I washed out in the spigot were only slightly damp still. I cringed as I put them on, broke down my tent, and was on my way. A few more people showed up to the campground after dark the night before, so we were certain we would see them somewhere down the line. They were the first people we had seen also backpacking the trail.
Airport in the Sky
We had a short hike in the morning to Catalina Airport. It only took us about an hour or so to hike there from Blackjack, so we were the first people there in the morning. Nothing like a cold beer at 9am!
The people working at the Airport in the Sky restaurant were so inviting, even so early in the morning. They seemed to love talking to the backpackers and told us we were the first they had seen that day (not surprising). They conned us into getting the extra large beers, which only added to the excitement of the day. We also had a good time in the restaurant gift shop after our first beers. I had the most amazing breakfast burrito of my life, while Mountain Berry ate her bison burger. We charged our phones as we made the patio home for the next few hours, bathing in the warmth of the sun and hanging out with the Airport’s furry friend, Dusty.
Watch for Bison
With full stomachs and a few beers later, we were on our way to Little Harbor campground. It had been made aware to us that Santa Catalina Island is home to a pack of American bison. The bison were supposedly brought to the island in the 1920s for a silent film taking place on the island. When the production was halted due to money issues, the crew abandoned the film and the bison were left on the island. In fact checking this, there were a few different versions of the story so we might never actually know what happened. Regardless, it was an exciting feat when Mountain Berry and I ran into, not one, but 22 bison on our hike down to Little Harbor.
Unfortunately, the bison were in the middle of the trail and didn’t look like they’d be moving anytime soon. We stood in awe at their size (from afar, of course) and attempted to traverse around them. Bushwacking on the island can be slightly difficult, considering beyond the trail there is an abundance of cacti, coastal sage bushes, small and large shrubs, and difficult terrain. Not to mention, the conservancy has parts of the island gated off in order to preserve the natural ecosystem of the island. This made the bushwhacking experience especially difficult.
With cuts on our ankles and only some minor setbacks, we made our way back to trail. A few bison definitely took note of our presence and kept eyes on us the entire time. It was terrifying. Nothing like 22 – thousand pound animals glaring at you to really make you want to shit your pants. There was a sigh of relief as we pushed toward the campground – especially since the blue water at Little Harbor was calling our names.
A Cold Dip in the Pacific
We made it to Little Harbor in the early afternoon and were excited to set up our tents in probably the most beautiful campsite I have ever been to. Being fairly cold in January I didn’t think I’d swim in the ocean. The nights were getting down to near thirty degree temps and I didn’t think I could take being freezing before bed. However, this day was beautiful. We were hyped up and we were the only ones on the beach. Mountain Berry and I threw our bathing suits on and decided to take a dip in the ocean. It was so refreshing and exactly what we needed at the end of the day.
The F*cking Ravens…
We were told about the bison, but, unfortunately for us, we weren’t forewarned of the ravens on the island. While taking a cold dip in the Pacific, we saw ravens flocking towards our campsite. Fairly sure we hadn’t left any food out, we weren’t too worried and didn’t think much of it.
However, when we went back to our campsite minutes later, we discovered that the ravens had opened the pockets on our bags and found our assortment of candy. I hadn’t noticed that I had left a closed back of jolly ranchers on the table also, which the ravens quickly made work of. The poked holes right through the plastic and individually unwrapped the candies. Rookie mistake. We were in shock. And with two full days left in our hike, we were saddened with the lack of candy we now had in our possession.
Moral of the story: don’t underestimate the ruthlessness of the Catalina Ravens. They live for candy and tormenting innocent backpackers.
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