Catalina Backpacking Trip
As part of my list of “40 Things To Do Before I Turn 40,” I am going camping once a month. So, for the month of October we went to Catalina Island with Jess and Gordie! It was Jacob’s first backpacking trip and he did great! The Trans Catalina Trail has been modified since Jess, Fred, and I backpacked it five years ago. From Parsons Landing it doesn’t go to Starlight Beach anymore (although you can still go if you want, it’s just not part of the TCT anymore). Instead, it turns back to Two Harbors along the ocean which is a beautiful route. Our plan was to camp one night at Parsons Landing and one night at Two Harbors. I thought we were taking the original TCT route to Parsons Landing and back, but we decided to do the original TCT route to Parsons Landing and go back to Two Harbors along the ocean and enjoy the beautiful views. Jess got the camping permits, I got the ferry tickets, and we were set to spend Halloween weekend in Catalina Island!
We took the ferry from San Pedro and docked at Two Harbors. I don’t know if it’s because it was early in the morning or what, but the sea was angry and Jess got really seasick. I figured a drink would help me not get seasick – or maybe I was just making excuses to have a drink at 9 am - but thank God I was fine!
We got to Two Harbors and we split up: Jess and Gordie took the ocean side of the trail and Jacob and I took the original TCT. Even though I gave him the option, Jacob agreed that it was better to do the “hard way” to Parsons Landing (while we still had fresh legs) and get it over with, then go back to Two Harbors the “easy way.” Jess and Gordie believed that it was easier for them to go the opposite way seeing how they would take the “easy way” when their packs were heavier and the “hard way” when their packs were lighter after reducing the load by drinking water and eating some food the day before. In the end, what we did worked for us and what they did worked for them. It was good to get some quality time alone knowing that we would meet up at camp and be together again.
We took a little break about halfway and I sat down on the ground for a few minutes. When it was time to get up, I got a horrible cramp on my tummy and I felt like I was going to die! I might be exaggerating a bit but it was definitely painful and felt just like the pain I had at TRR in 2019. I don’t know what causes it; I drink a lot of water and I take in enough salt and electrolytes. I don’t get it. I’ve been told before that it's caused by too much electrolytes and I’ve been told it’s caused by too much water - I don’t know. But it’s horrible and I don’t know how to make it go away other than to take some Tums and wait it out, so our “little break” ended up being like 30 minutes. It was the worst. I’ve since been taking calcium gummies because that’s what’s in Tums and that’s what I was recommended at TRR to make it go away. I’ve asked my PCP about it and we still have no answers. Alas, I’m alive.
I was so happy when we made it to Parsons Landing after a grueling 7 miles and over 2000 ft of elevation gain. Jess and Gordie had gotten there way before us so their tent was already set up and Jess had even had a nap! It was a hot day so being next to the ocean was great! Jacob and I quickly set up camp and got into comfy clothes after a “camp shower” and enjoyed dinner at the campsite followed by s’mores by the fire! I wish I could’ve stayed up later, but I was exhausted and went to bed around 9 pm. I fell asleep with the sound of the waves crashing and it was amazing! I woke up with the same sounds too! It was a good thing I went to bed early because sleeping in wasn’t an option – the sun was bright out and the waves were loudly crashing, so we were up early ready to get the day started.
We had breakfast with Jess and Gordie and then they set out on the original TCT back to Two Harbors. Jacob and I finished getting everything ready and took the road along the ocean back. When I backpacked the TCT in 2015, we didn’t do this entire road because it wasn’t part of the TCT at the time. So, when we were offered a ride by Chad the Sheriff about 3 miles from Parsons Landing, we took it! It was good that I got a chance to do the entire thing this time around. It was about 9 miles and like 700ish ft of elevation gain. When I say it’s easy, I mean it. Even with a pack, it was nothing compared to the day before.
This time we got to camp before Jess and Gordie and we set up our tent. It wasn’t the best terrain, but we made it work. Jess and Gordie were already at Two Harbors getting some food, and when they finished eating they made their way to camp (it’s about a quarter or a mile – mostly uphill!) and we all hung out at the campsite for a bit. We took cold showers, put on clean clothes, and Jess helped me steam bake some muffins! They were delicious! We walked back to Two Harbors to get food and drinks, and I paced myself by drinking as many Jack and Cokes as I felt I could drink to still be able to walk the quarter of a mile uphill back to camp. Turns out, three is good. Next time I might try for four!
It was Halloween night and we didn’t dress up but some people did. I had my nails Halloween themed and they glowed in the dark – I thought it was funny!
When we were back at camp we had more drinks and hung by the fire. It was a full moon so it was pretty bright out. It reminded me of the last time I’d camped at Two Harbors five years ago – that night was a supermoon! It’s like I pick the bright nights to stay there or something…
The next day, Jess and Gordie went on a little hike bright and early while Jacob and I stayed in our tent. We weren’t sleeping anymore – we had some loud neighbors who were awake pretty early and woke up the entire campground, I’m sure. By the time Jess and Gordie were back, Jacob and I were up and packing up but our tent was a little moist so we had to wait for it to dry before we packed it. We had made reservations for a palapa down in Two Harbors at 11 am and we made it there right on time! We spent the rest of the day relaxing at the palapa, enjoying the sand and the sun, and just waiting for our ferry to arrive to take us back. It was a great day and the best way to end our trip!
The ferry back to San Pedro wasn’t as bad as the one to Two Harbors, and we made it without Jess getting seasick! We picked up CoCo ICHIBANYA for dinner since it was on the way – and it’s delicious! – and we all made it home safe, had dinner, showered, and went to bed! Another month of camping in the books and Jacob’s first – hopefully not last! – backpacking trip! I love Catalina Island. I definitely need to go there more often! Anyone wanna join me?!