Thursday, August 6, 2009
Santa Rosa Island
I woke up Monday morning at 3 a.m. in order to shower and to have everything ready to go when Maria showed up at 3:30 so we could be on our way to pick up Jake by 4 a.m. and head out to Ventura to catch our morning boat to Santa Rosa Island. Thus began our three day adventure. The boat ride out to the island was great. It was extremely windy, creating some nice swells at times that would crash into the bow of the boat and create a huge splash. It was all fun and good to watch for most of the passengers until we hit a patch that was really crazy and the waves began to splash over the sides of the boat. People scrambled to get inside. . . I, on the other hand, stood outside and got soaked--it was awesome! The salt spray from the sea gave me a small connection to my viking ancestors. I was giddy, and Maria said that I looked and acted like a little kid. It was a great way to start the trip!
Upon arriving at the island, we had to load our gear and ourselves into little motorboat rafts to be taken to the shore (the pier on the island is under construction). We landed, got our gear, listened to some speeches from the rangers on the island and then hiked to our campsite. After all was set up we took a little nap (Jake hadn't slept the night before) and then we went exploring the beach. The water seemed warm (for pacific ocean standards) when we arrived but by the evening it was quite cold. Once it was getting dark, we decided to go for a long walk (so I called it--Jake and Maria claim it was a hike).
Upon our return we cooked up dinner and found a new friend--a spotted skunk. It was a beautifully awesome little creature who was looking for some scraps left by campers. It is obvious that it has scavenged from humans in the past as it was fearless. I first saw it as I sat on the ground with my backpacking stove. It walked within a couple of feet of me. It scared the crap out of Jake, which I found quite hilarious--he was sitting at the picnic table when the skunk snuck up on him and sniffed at Jake's feet. Jake jumped up quickly and ran from the table--it was awesome! Maria and I got a good laugh out of Jake's reaction. Later, as I was alone at the table (Jake and Maria having gone off to wash their dishes) the skunk returned, hoped up on the table, sniffing around as I was eating--it new well enough not to touch my food--just sniffing for scraps the others may have left. I reached out to the skunk to see how close I could get--yeah, it wasn't scared at all--I could have pet the thing had I wanted to, but I refrained (you never know what disease a wild animal may be carrying).
Next morning we were going to go kayaking, but the winds were so intense that it was not a good idea (I can't recall the last time the wind blew so constant and hard as it did on this trip). With kayaking out for the morning, we settled on hiking through Lobo Canyon. It was a long but fun hike (14.5 miles round trip). I think that it shattered both Jake and Maria's previous distance for hiking, but I think that they liked it overall. We all had casualties of sorts from the excursion--Maria was extremely sore afterward, Jake strained a tendon, and I ended up with blisters on my feet. Upon our return we rested before making dinner, visiting with Jake's new best friend that we aptly named Jake-lyn (the spotted skunk), and then went down to the beach for the night, telling stories, enjoying the solitude, and the good company.
The next morning we went hiking up through an area called Torrey Pines. We thought of kayaking again, but the winds never ceased, making the conditions too dangerous for inexperienced kayakers (the rangers had told us the day that we arrived that a number of kayakers have died, being swept out to sea by the strong winds and strong currents. They pointed out a bend in the island and said that once you are swept beyond that point, it is game over--the next land mass the current will take you to is Antarctica. Needless to say, since conditions did not improve while we were on the island, we opted not to use my kayaks. I'm a bit bummed about that one, but there will be plenty of other opportunities to kayak. After hiking Torrey Pines, we returned, packed up our belongings and headed back to the beach, which we enjoyed until the boat returned to pick us up. The boat ride back took us to Santa Cruz Island where we saw one of the world's largest sea caves. It was so big that the ship we were on actually sailed into the cave--it was extremely awesome. Apparently, there are kayaking tours that go through the cave--I would love the opportunity to do that in the future. Overall, it was a great trip--I would certainly do it again.
As for rating it with other camping trips that I have recently taken--it is tied with my camping trip to San Simeon/Big Sur as the best camping trip of the year. If you get a chance to go to either location--do it!