Friday, December 15, 2017

A Hike Across Catalina

Our Rescue Chopper!

Trans Catalina Trail
27+ Miles
4000 Feet Elevation Gain


We took the ferry out of San Pedro to begin our three day adventure.  It was a beautiful late November day in Southern California, but the weather map suggested that a storm was a brew'n.  This however did not deter us from our adventure.



After dropping off the day-goers or hotel guests in Avalon, the ferry continued its way to the remote destination of Two Harbors.  Taking advantage of the great weather, Ayden and I rented kayaks and paddled around until sun down.  We rented a cabin, hit the hay early to rest well for the long day ahead...

Second Day: Hike 18.32 Miles +3318 Feet

Two Harbors - Little Harbor - Airport in the Sky - Black Jack Camp

Trans Catalina Trailhead
The Harbor on the other side, hence Two Harbors

We left around 4:00am to begin this beast of a hike.  The weather forecast called for heavy rain in the late afternoon, and with 18 miles to our camp, carrying the heavy bags, we were on our way...

Map Options
Map data ©2017 Google
2 km 
325ELEVATION (ft)03.677.3511.0214.718.37056511301695
199 FT
1721 FT
3318 FT

Take note, the high elevation was 1721, but the elevation gain was double that.  In the dark, we started uphill.  It was quite a bit chilly and kept the ear muffs on, but the effort generating upwards warmed us to a perfect temp.  On Mile two, still in the dark, we circled unnecessarily off course.  I was like, here we go again.  After about 20 minutes of frustration, a little more light peeked over our headlamps and helped guide us back to course...

Awesome Views!
Trail was easy to follow after all

Lots of Ups!
The first storm band breezed past with a gust 

Wild Bison Here and...

Eerie, Alone, Mother Nature Preying on us from a distance like a Mountain Lion

Slightly sketchy single trek section

This was a good place to rest.  The sun had finally appeared and it was now warm enough to take off the windbreaker.  The breeze, for the moment, had calmed, yet near the ridge edge blew us a gust or two.  It was already longer than were thought it should felt.  The uphill trend was exhausting us, but from here, the roller coaster track finally found consistency on the down...

Little Harbor in Sight
Little Harbor

A good place to rest, have a picnic or, hang like a monkey?

This would be the sensible place to set up camp and call it a day.  You can organize a kayak drop off here and really make a day of it.  There are coves to explore and it was just a very beautiful place.  However, there were not many people around, perhaps because of the season, the remoteness of it or, precaution due to the oncoming storm.  Knowing this, we didn't stay long even though my legs said I should.  The next stretch should be easier, right?
The Trans Catalina gets nasty from here

So goodbye to zero elevation

Breeze of Cake!

Hey, that's cheating!

Say hello to my little me
Seriously, it was several miles of all up hill with no relief.  Some spots were Achilles-wrenching.  Ayden and I separated for awhile.  He was complaining but I was finding my stride, so I told him to meet me at the top.  I was carrying the heavier bag and I figured if I trekked slow with him, he would have only gone slower.  My strategy worked because he wasn't actually that far behind.

**You may see bits and pieces of this hike on Fit To Fat To Fit Season 2, which airs January 8th on Lifetime.  I was already several months into my workout routine, and although still heavy, my hiking muscle memory from years past, prevailed!

Finally, the road!!!

Tour buses, jeeps and hummers, all day up here

Just in Time!

The rain fell hard!!!
 It was mid-afternoon, and just as predicted, the rain took over the island.  Sideways, long drops, hard, cold, and wet!  But, we only felt a splash.  With no structures between here and Two Harbors, not even at Little Harbor, we reached civilization.  This place is, The Airport In The Sky!  What an amazing relief, and how lucky were we?!

Best Cookies in the World!  Seriously!  They were just so incredible, thick, big, yummy, and we ordered a second.  Ayden had a Bison Burger.  I had an IPA.  Ayden had Hot Coco and I ate some Chille.  So much for my Fit To Fat To Fit diet, but man, we burnt all those calories, so why not!  Backpacking burns more calories than just about any sport, when you consider adding the heavy weight and number of miles.  One may burn 1000 calories or more per hour, and I'm sure we did.  So here's to you, donate a 2000 calories back for that effort and wait for the rain to break, and it did...

Airport in the Sky
Onward to Black Jack Camp

The Forest Rangers were adamant about the trails being closed and offered rides back to Avalon to camp in a hotel at night.  However, NO!  We knew about this rain, and we also knew that there would be about an hour or so break between bands.

Lol, I forget the name of that point in the background...

We took to the road as recommended but then used the Black Jack cut off to head over to the camp.  At first, it felt like a mistake because this dirt road was all mud driven.  But, we sloshed through it and found some traction up to this point.  The detour added a mile or so to the journey, but due to the velocity of the rain, the single trek trail between here and the airport was not passable.

The sun is falling back to the horizon

It's Crazy, we got to Black Jack, found a spot, set up the tent and jumped in just ahead of the rain.  We didn't get wet.  Not recommended but I cooked our dinner on our stove in the tent.  Ayden ate and then passed out a few minutes later.  It rained hard that night!  Due to the TV show, this is the only shot I will give you of me.

Third Day: Hike 8.99 Miles +684 Feet

Black Jack Campground - Avalon, Catalina Island California

Our Campsite

The Rain stopped, but the hint of drizzle was still present

The Trail is through there...
Knowing that the trail was closed by the rangers yesterday, we probably should have doubled back to the road, but I really wanted to take the single track, so...

I did, and it was a sloshy mess!

And then the rain came back again - sideways style!!!

There was no footing!!!

At some points, there were minor drop offs.  Although I had decent trail shoes and poles, I nearly ate it.  There were some down hill mud slides on the trail - I did not feel safe, but little Ayden and his compact low to the ground body, with regular sneakers and no poles - no problem!  He slid around like he was on ice skates with full control.

After a couple miles of that, back to the paralleling road!

Hopefully there's no lightning!

Some Wind Gusts nearly blew us off the road.  The weather was wicked!  So, I took out the diary cam for the show and began to film.  I really hope they use some of that footage!  We shall soon see...

The rain finally gave in to California and allowed us to dry out as we meandered down the long paved road into Avalon.  An old couple passed us in a funny little vehicle.  They asked us if we wanted a ride.  At that point, my legs were feeling like the end of marathon cramp.  I could no longer take a full stride and I was one step away from my arch nemesis, Charlie.  However, we passed up on the ride and slowly made our way down.  We passed the ziplines and were surprised people were still going, in the rain and winds.


We Made It!

And a Beautiful Rainbow

We ate a nice restaurant during another storm cell, and when it broke, we walked over to the theater and took a tour.  So, we were scheduled for the last ferry back to San Pedro, and didn't even consider that it could be cancelled!  Oh No!  So, when we got there, we learned that the last ferry to Long Beach had just left, that we were now stuck on the island at night.  No Way, Ayden has school tomorrow and Jessi would kill me.  We asked around and learned that we could take a helicopter back.  It would be a few bucks more, but it was an option if we reacted quickly.  I did not hesitate.  I called a cab who darted me over to the pad, and quickly boarded the last flight back to the mainland.

This was my first ever helicopter ride.  Despite the winds and the rain, the ride was very smooth and refreshing.  It only took 15 minutes compared to what was a two-hour ferry ride on choppy water.  Normally the ferry is about half that time, but the waves were so big that they had to slow it down, hence why the cancelled our boat.  We heard that those who did come over on the last ferry to Catalina did not fair well.  Sea sickness would have been a kind word given their faces and stains left behind.

Passing the last ferry below

This was truly the awesome experience!  There is still more trail for us to conquer on this island, and I have no plans to stay in a hotel here - although they did look warm and accommodating.

January 8th on Lifetime
6:00 pm to Midnight

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