Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale …
Whilst the rest of southern California baked in the recent heat wave, the intrepid explorers of Troop 201 ventured west and conquered Santa Rosa Island (part of Channel Islands National Park). We arrived at Ventura Harbor bright and early (well, early at least) for our voyage across the Santa Barbara Channel.
The last time I’d visited Santa Rosa, Island Packers was still executing the beach landings with the aluminum skiffs, so this time ’round it was a much easier (though less exciting) unloading of gear on the new pier at Bechers Bay. Our first day on the island began with the hiking of our gear the one and one-half miles from the pier to Water Canyon, where we settled into sites 9 and 11. We designated the adjacent wind shelters as kitchen and staging, respectively. And as with any good home with a posse of teenage girls, the kitchen was where all the fun was had.
Shortly after setting up the kitchen, tents, and storing the “smellables” in the critter bins, we hiked down to Water Canyon beach. There the Cadettes made excellent use of the clear water, powder-fine sand dunes, and picnic table to enjoy an afternoon of epically relaxing proportions.
After a hearty dinner, we all stretched out on the field and watched a smattering of the Perseids meteor shower (which has become something of a tradition for the girls since the marginally ill-fated Mt. Pinos trip a few summers ago). A solid night’s sleep followed.
The morning broke still and warm (a rarity in Water Canyon), but spirits were buoyed with awesome (if I do say so myself) bacon-and-egg breakfast burritos. Calorie- and carb-loaded, the crew endeavored to explore the Torrey Pines grove some three miles distant.
It was a hot trek into that copse of rare conifers, but a fine lunch beneath the boughs of the Torreys with views of those turquoise waters off Black Rock is a respite no Scout can dismiss.
And so how do young explorers cool off? With another visit to the beach, naturalement!
They hiked back to camp in file and beach towels singing camp songs, much to the other campers’ enjoyment (no, really). That evening, a stove-top fondue-cum-s’mores was devised by the leadership after dinner, Junior Ranger booklets were worked in, experimenting with headlamps and camera settings was achieved, and more meteors were witnessed. Good times!
The third day broke somewhat cooler, and a steady breeze accompanied us to our next destination: Carrington Point. An interpretive hike led by the inimitable Catherine French of the volunteer corps gave the girls a massive upload of flora/fauna/Chumash lore intel. The woman is an amazing resource.
We enjoyed field PB&Js at the large midden site at Carrington Point, and followed a faded singletrack to Arch Rock before heading up the steep hillside and returning to the pasture boundary.
Back at the pasture boundary, the girls interrogated (sorry, “interviewed”) Ranger Carl, and continued their studies toward Junior Ranger-hood.
Back at camp, the glory that is Mountain House lasagna was introduced to the ravenous lady mountaineers, and a healthy dose of meteor watching was rewarded with one supremely impressive blazing streak across the sky just before bedtime.
The next day was another day bereft of wind or fog, and was also our last on Santa Rosa. Before heading back to the pier for the 3:00p departure we took the time to explore the caves above the showers, and policed the entire campground for litter.
Being scouts of a punctual nature, we reached the pier with time to burn and spent a fine early afternoon again at the beach.
On the return voyage, the girls had the opportunity to see much of the western stretch of Santa Cruz Island (including Painted Cave), and were sworn in as Junior Rangers. The leading ladies and troop captains are all very proud of the girls, the miles they covered, and all they learned.
The island life for us!