Sunday, December 7, 2008
CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK
This is a mostly photo essay of our 2 day ocean voyage, backpacking, hiking, and sea kayaking into caves visit to this little used, mostly unheard of, gem of a national park. The park consists of a series of 5 islands approximately 20 miles off the coast of southern California across the Santa Barbara Channel. We visited only Santa Cruz Island the largest in the chain reached by high speed motorized catamaran in about an hour. It was a bright sunny day with temperatures in the low to mid 60's - perfect weather. On the way out we happened upon a pod of about 200 dolphins and everybody got very excited and started taking lots of pictures. Then after they swam off and we continued in route we came upon an enormous mega pod of what the boat captain and naturalist guessed were a couple of thousand dolphins, the sea was boiling with them as far as the eye could see and many of them traveled along with us riding in the bow wave of our boat - an incredible exciting experience.
We then landed on the Island, got our gear and backpacked less than a mile to a beautiful primitive campground where we were only one of 3 couples staying overnight. There were overhanging eucalyptus trees with clouds of monarch butterflies flitting about. We took a hike that afternoon climbing high up into the hills overlooking the island , the channel and the mainland. Then back down for an early dinner before dark where we were entertained by a procession of island foxes (the size of large housecats) walking through the campground within 10 feet of us.
Next day, a lazy morning and packed up camp to meet the boat and our guide for our sea kayaking adventure. Again because of the time of year there was only one other couple on the trip with us. After some brief intro to kayaking skills, we launched and traveled along the coast of the Island looking down into very clear water, up to magnificent cliffs and then entering numerous sea caves and arches trying to be careful not to get caught in the wave surges which could easily smash you into the sharp rocks or as happened to Robert, flip you into the water.
We had a really great time and Barbara did great in her own kayak. The photos below we hope will give you just a taste of what it was like.