You don’t inherit the earth from your ancestors. You borrow it from your children. – Native American Proverb

 

We planned our trip to Channel Islands (named after the trough that separates them from the mainland) while staying with family in Los Angeles. Originally we had intended to camp overnight on one of the islands, but Skyler wasn’t feeling well and after a visit to a local vet we didn’t feel comfortable leaving her for longer than one day. Channel Islands National Park would be our first visit to a park in the last six months without our four-legged companion by our side.

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Skyler Blue

The park encompasses five of the eight California Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara). For our day trip we choose to explore Santa Cruz Island, the largest island in the national park. Because ferries to the islands can fill quickly, we booked early and kept our fingers crossed for good weather and favorable water conditions.

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It turned out to be a perfect clear day and we headed out early as we had an hour commute to the boat dock in Ventura.

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We booked the 10:00 ferry so that we could check out the visitor center before hand, as we knew the center would be closed by the time we got back (visitor hours are 8:30-5:00). There are lots of cool exhibits and an excellent park movie at this visitor center, along with knowledgeable rangers who helped guide us to the best hikes given our limited time on the island.

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The Pacific Ocean looked relatively calm, but we weren’t taking any chances after the stomach churning rock and roll boat ride we experienced the day we sailed to Dry Tortugas National Park (located off the coast of Key West). So when we boarded the ferry, we selected seats in the fresh open air in the back of the boat.

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Sixty minutes later we disembarked at Scorpion Beach on the Eastern side of Santa Cruz Island and climbed a short ladder to the dock.

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We had decided to hike through the campground and up Potato Harbor Road, which leads to some absolutely stunning coastal views.

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Once we gained the altitude of the cliffs we followed the North Bluff Trail and then hiked the Cavern Point Loop. We spotted kayakers down below. Next time!!, we acknowledged with a fist bump in unison.

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We took our time at the top and ate lunch on a cliff, ever on the lookout for the island fox, a notorious food thief, before heading back down to Scorpion Beach.

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The hike was around six miles and we would consider it a moderate hike due to the elevation change and the lack of shade. Looking down off the cliffs and out onto the vast ocean: that’s home, that’s us, the aggregate of our joy and suffering, our posturings, our imagined self-importance. The Pale Blue Dot.

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On the boat ride back we encountered a huge pod of dolphins. There must have been hundreds playing in the wake of the boat, racing alongside and jumping across our path.

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Our captain slowed the boat to take full advantage of their playfulness and we finally had to break off to make it back to shore before sunset.

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We stopped to enjoy the sunset and eat some seafood on the way back to Los Angeles and arrived well worn out and ready to hit the sack. Ready for the next park, the ninth and final national park on our trek through California.

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Up Next: Joshua Tree National Park