Day-trip to Channel Islands National Park

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Oct 14, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, May 27, 2011

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I had a reservation today for a boat trip with Island Packers to Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park. Unfortunately, the winds were high and the seas were rough and the dock on Anacapa Island is not in a protected area. As a result, we were told before the boat left that we were going to go to Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island instead. To minimize travel time the Island Packers trips to Santa Cruz normally leave from Ventura and the trips to Anacapa normally leave from Oxnard My trip was now a Santa Cruz Island trip from Oxnard, which increases the travel time and decreases the time on the island. It's not what I would have preferred, but I can't do much about the weather or the location of the dock on Anacapa Island so I didn't have much say in the matter.

It got windy and rough as soon as we left the harbor. The boat trip out took about two hours. I don't get seasick but it was a miserable two hours for some of the people. It was low tide when we reached Scorpion Anchorage and we had to go ashore six at a time in a small tender, further cutting into our limited time on land.

There are ruins of a ranch near the anchorage. People used to farm and raise sheep and cattle on the island. There have also been military outposts on the islands. Two of the Channel Islands was made a national monument in 1938. Three more islands, including Santa Cruz, were added to the park in 1980 when it was given national park status. In spite of the new status, ranching continued until 1984. When that was no longer profitable, the owners made the island a hunting club. When the owner died in 1987, ownership passed to the Nature Conservancy. The park service obtained ownership of 24% of the island from the Nature Conservancy in 2000. The Nature Conservancy still owns the rest.  Both the park service and the Nature Conservancy have been working to undo the damage caused by the years of farming and ranching.

We only had about three hours on the island. The two-mile Cavern Point Loop trail sounded interesting so I decided to take that. The trail starts at the ranch, climbs up to the top of the cliffs along the beach, follows the cliffs for a while and then returns down to the ranch. The views from the top of the cliffs were nice but it was very windy with gusts up to around 60 mph so it wasn't a particularly comfortable hike.

I still had about an hour left when I got back to the ranch. I wasn't sure what to do but I soon came across a ranger giving a tour. Most of the tour participants were from the Island Packers trip that had left from Ventura. They were returning later than our boat so I couldn't stay for all of the tour. The ranger told us some of the history and natural history of the island. Two of the conservation effort success stories are the re-introduction of the endemic Island Fox and the Bald Eagle to Santa Cruz.  I didn't see any Bald Eagles but a couple Island Foxes wandered past the group during our tour.

The boat trip back was with the wind and waves so it was a lot less uncomfortable than the trip out. The Island Packers office was already closed when we arrived in Oxnard so I couldn't discuss my options with anyone. I have reservations for three more Island Packers tours to the Channel Islands over the next three days but my plans are bound to change due to the weather.
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