Our first National Park of the trip! The Channel Islands are a chain of 5 islands just off the coast of California near Ventura. They were a nature-preserve until declared a National Park by Congress in 1980, and as such feature pristine wilderness protected from the development of the rest of Southern California.
We woke up at 6:45am and hit the Park’s visitor’s center in Ventura, where we collected our very first National Park stamp! (We intend to collect them all.)
Then, we hopped on the 9:00 boat to Santa Cruz island, the largest in the chain. The crossing took just over an hour over slightly choppy seas, which had several young children, and even some adults, heaving over the side. (We were fine; we thought ahead and took Dramamine.) Thanks to cooperative weather, we were lucky to see an enormous pod of ~200 dolphins swimming alongside us!
We landed at Scorpion Cove and received a quick lesson from Ranger Randy on “what not to do”. We then embarked on a “2 mile moderate hike” down the eucalyptus-scented valley that somehow became a “4.5 mile strenuous hike” due to a wrong turn somewhere! Exhausted from climbing up several hundred feet of hillside, we lunched in a lovely grove of Torrey pines, which turned-out to be one of the nicest spots in the world (and one of the only places to find much needed shade!)
After lunch, we were nestled into the tall grass relaxing when Spiral noticed a bandit had stolen the remaining crust of his sandwich! (Ranger Randy noted this might happen; but caught up in the beauty, we forgot about his warning). We managed to run him off and take a few snapshots:
A little later, we were back on the trail down to the dock where we would meet the boat to take us back to the mainland. We captured some amazing sights on the way down:
In the end, our first National Park experience proved to be wonderful! It is really a rare opportunity to hear nothing but nature: no phones, televisions or cars. Just the rustle of wind in the grass and birds happily singing.
Our new gear worked out well too! Lisa was very happy with her new hiking boots and we both were very pleased with our hydration backpacks!
A smoother boat-ride and a quick drive had us soon back at our hotel in Ventura. It was another spectacular day!