Santa Cruz Island Backpack

By Dave F..

Fresh after a sumptuous Thanksgiving Dinner, eight Perfect Pace guys met up for the journey to Santa Cruz Island at the Island Packers pier in Ventura Harbor. Most people choose to carpool to the rendezvous point, with Glen driving Andrew, Aaron, and Jeremy from San Diego, but Chris Anderson and I choose to fly up in a Piper Warrior airplane from Carlsbad to Oxnard Airport. The other guys, (Carlos and Juan) drove over from Los Angeles (separately) to meet up with us for the excursion.

Glen and his posse arrived and promptly took advantage of the fine dining options by having a great breakfast at Christy's in the harbor village. Following breakfast, we did the much anticipated weigh-in to ensure our packs were below the max weight of 40 lbs. Amazingly, everyone passed this first test and we were soon on our way aboard the Island Packers' Catamaran, Islander.

The journey across to Santa Cruz was beautiful. The Islander crew took a short detour to provide us a great tour of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. This area is where there were literally hundreds of dolphins and other marine mammals (seals), pelicans, sea gulls, etc feeding on the fish at this unique area. Apparently, the sea currents shift and rise in this area and provide for a great feeding pool for the larger animals.

Continuing on, we made our approach to Santa Cruz Island stopping first at Scorpion Anchorage to drop off scores of passengers for day trip excursions. We then rode on to the Prisoners Harbor area and began our leisurely walk. A brief side trip onto Nature Conservancy land was in order as we took time for lunch at the overlook above Prisoners Harbor. One of our members, Chris Anderson, is a member of the Nature Conservancy, but that was not good enough to allow us access to their property on Santa Cruz Island. We set off on our first major hike of the weekend along the Del Norte Trail to a primitive campsite for the evening.

That Friday evenings dinner was prepared by Glen and Andrew and was outstanding, as always. Glen prepared his famous Albacore Tuna steaks with a Pepper Saute, along with Santa Cruz Island couscous. Delicious. A very memorable meal that Martha Stewart would have been jealous of certainly.

After dinner, Juan, Aaron, Carlos Chris, Jeremy, and I went on a journey along the fire road to see what the gayborhood had to offer. A brightly lit landscape from our full moon made for a romantic and actually warm stroll around the local mountain road. I won't divulge what happened on the stroll, but it was a wonderful evening.

The following morning we were greeted by a very crisp and refreshing day. People gathered themselves together and made assorted breakfasts of boiled things, and packed up. Andrew offered that this was the first time he had seen a Perfect Pace group ready to begin the day on time.

We headed out and took in the scenery as we hiked off towards the east along rolling hills, China Pines, non-native destructive Fennel, and other assorted flora.

The hike along Monta`Onon Ridge was gorgeous. Viewing the Santa Barbara Channel on the left and the Pacific Ocean on the right, with the fires in Malibu off in the distance provided an unparalleled view of the grandeur of nature and of California.

After lunch at the El Monta`Onon Peak, we headed down to our last campsite at Scorpion Canyon campground. Along the way, we were able to view the remains of a WWII-era aircraft wreckage, abandoned water drilling equipment from the mid-1900's, and beautiful rolling hillsides and vistas. Waiting for us in the campground that evening was the highly sought after, Santa Cruz Island Fox. These little creatures were scurrying around the edges of the light-zone of the camp ground all evening. Occasionally, one would be bold enough to jump up on an abandoned picnic table to drink water off of Chris' Camelback bladder.

The following morning on Sunday, we packed up our belongings, and went off on a couple short hikes to Potato Harbor, and also to Scorpion Rock. We were treated to the full photographic skills of Juan as he took over 300 photos of the journey of the weekend. He will probably have the DVD ready for sale soon.

We all made it back to Ventura Harbor slightly exhausted, but ready to do it all again. Most people had a drive of several hours ahead of them to get back home. Juan graciously agreed to give Chris and I a ride back to Oxnard airport. We took off after doing a cursory inspection of the plane and made it back to Carlsbad in a little over an hour. A nice calm flight to end a beautiful weekend with Perfect Pace. Thanks Glen!!

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Perfect Pace is a non-profit, gay backpacking and hiking organization, serving men and women for the Southern California area. With most of its members residing in Los Angeles and San Diego, the club is run solely by volunteers. The events are typically strenuous and cater to in-shape adventure seekers. Perfect Pace primarily focuses on overnight backpack trips in South and Central California and the Southwest, but also hosts many day-hikes and extreme power hikes. Click Here For More Information

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