Santa Rosa Island Camping Adventure - August 2011

Posted by Amy O. , Friday, September 2, 2011 5:09 PM

As long as I have known Patrick, I have heard about his adventures camping on the Channel Islands off the coast of California, and have wanted to experience this with him.  After a derailed attempt in October 2009, we finally made solid plans to go together, with Patrick's brother Jon, to Santa Rosa Island (one of two with running water, and the only one with showers, albeit very cold showers). 

Since it's on an island, one must, of course, take a boat to get there!  We booked 'passage' with Island Packers and set 'sail' on Friday morning.  It was a rather windy ride, the roughest Patrick had experienced (he's visited all the islands, and all but one twice!), but still quite exhilarating.


We had to drop some folks at Santa Cruz Island on the way there, so the trip took about 3 hours.


Approaching Santa Rosa

The pier is currently under construction so we were delivered to the island via skiff (the inflatable motor boat you see us riding below).  One of the many adventures of the island!  Patrick got taken on a skiff before Jon & I, who boarded with four women who had to be in their sixties or older!  I thought, "If these women can do this, surely I can do this!"




After some instructions by the ranger on the beach, we strapped into our backpacks and started up a horribly steep hill to get to the campsite.  Let's just say, that was not my favorite part of the trip.  After taking many moments to breathe normally again, we set up camp.  Each site (15 total) gets its own shelter, which is great since it's very windy!


Then we had some lunch!  To lighten the load of the backpacks, we opted for military-style MREs for our food for the trip.  They're pretty cool & come with all sorts of fun things in them & are mostly pretty tasty as well!  I for one was glad not to have to carry anything more burdensome!  Some of the older ladies who'd brought full coolers of food enlisted Patrick & Jon's help for getting them up the hill! 


The boat was coming back for us at 3:00pm on Monday, so we spent the next three days exploring the wonders of the island and mostly relishing in the quiet & solitude.  While it was enjoyable and breathtaking, it wasn't entirely relaxing - a lot of hiking up steep hills & packing things around & bracing against the wind.  But I found that I had to, in many cases, push myself to do things that I didn't think I could do and finding that I, in fact, could do them.  And that was really good for me, physically and spiritually!  And Patrick was absolutely in his element and that was fun to experience as well.


 Cattails!!





 Jon, making sand angels :-)
 When in California do you ever get a beach all to yourself???

 This is the view leaving the campsite!  Pretty spectacular to wake up to!!


Saturday we hiked up the Torrey Pines trail - to a grove of Torrey Pine Trees, which is the rarest pine species in the U.S.  They are only found here on Santa Rosa Island and in San Diego County.

 Catching our breath at the top...






 Then we had Patrick Teaches Amy To Snorkel In The Ocean Lesson #1.  Mostly I learned that it was way too windy & the current was far too strong to do any snorkeling there that day.
 Warming up back at camp...

 Sunday, we headed out to find a cove that was more conducive to snorkeling lessons...

 ...and found this great beach, teeming with wildlife!  Cormorants & pelicans!

 And suspicious sea lions!

 Testing the water...it was COLD!!  Painfully so, at first.  But then you got used to it.
 I so wanted to be brave, but I wasn't convinced I could do it...so first I watched Patrick...
 ...I got more acclimated to the water and the breathing technique...
 ...and before I knew it, I was in all the way, swimming right beside him!  With a very curious onlooker, too!

 A gorgeous place & we had it all to ourselves for the afternoon!!



 A playful raven back at the campsite
 Monday, we explored a bit more of the beach after packing up camp and while waiting for the boat to return

 A Happy Patrick!



The boat ride back was much calmer than the ride out and we got to see some amazing things, which we didn't get nearly enough photographic evidence of.  The boat driver actually took us into this sea cave, which looks tiny pictured here, but is really like this huge natural cathedral.  It was so awesome to go inside!!


At one point on the way back, we were surrounded by dolphins!!  It was absolutely incredible!!!  There had to have been a couple hundred dolphins of all sizes all around the boat, leaping up out of the water, swimming right alongside.  It was truly an unforgettable experience & I was utterly delighted! 

We made it back to shore safe & sound and, quite hungry, grabbed some dinner before heading back to Pasadena...quite exhausted & quite dirty, but also quite pleased with our adventure!  We certainly hope to do this again!