Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Love Affair with the Channel Islands

I've been heading out to the Channel Islands for over 12 years
I fell in love with the Channel Islands back in 2000
after my first trip to Santa Cruz Island
I have traveled alone to the islands for all but 5 trips
yet I have never felt lonely
Melissa Adylia Calasanz of Controlled Burn Fitness
Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park
Scorpion Anchorage
after scampering over 15 miles of Up and Down up and Down 8,000ft elevation gain
from Prisoners Harbor

If I was asked to do the math about how many nights I have spent out on the islands... let’s see...
In the first 2 years
I made 15 trips to Santa Cruz Island with a minimum of 3 nights per visit, and on 3 trips, I stayed for 6 nights.
I visited Anacapa on all but 3 of my visits to Santa Cruz Island, and made pit stops at Anacapa when visiting each of the other islands from 2000-2002.
I visited Santa Rosa Island 2 times in 2000, each trip for 3 nights; Santa Barbara Island one time for 3 nights; and San Miguel Island for 3 nights.
Hmmm, looking back, and doing the math, I guess I lived in my tent :)
I did my first back country backpacking/camping trip to Santa Rosa Island, spending 5 nights on a beautiful white sand beach happily; all by myself except for the adorable seals that were so curious about me, and the pelicans that entertained me with their amazing diving- for-dinner skills.

Smugglers Cove
Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park
One of my favorite hikes!
From Scorpion to the quiet beach of Smugglers Cove
Only about 7 miles round trip

One of my favorite places
Unforgiving weather most of the time, but when the weather is in a good mood
this island is stunning! 

The last time I camped on San Miguel Island
Constant winds of 40-45mph
Gusts up to 70mph
for 3 days

Melissa Adylia Calasanz of Controlled Burn Fitness
San Miguel Island
Trying to get warm and dry off after getting stuck under 3 sets of waves,
climbing up the cliff, soaking wet with a backpack, during an off-trail "adventure"
trying to return along the coast after visiting Simonton Cove
with one of the rangers and 3 other enthusiastic hikers

Melissa Adylia Calasanz of Controlled Burn Fitness
San Miguel Island
Many years ago, the last day on San Miguel Island
waiting for the Island Packers Boat to come and pick up the campers.
The sun had finally come out. The wind had died down to a gentle breeze.
Two Blue Whales frolicked in the bay for hours 

I don’t have any pictures from my days on Santa Rosa Island or Santa Barbara Island
Those were super-special days of extreme solitude.
On Santa Rosa, I enjoyed back-country camping for 4 nights at a time carrying all my essentials, including all my water for the entire trip.
There are no water sources, even for filtering, in June on that side of the island. The weight of my pack was reserved for water, food and absolute essentials. 
Taking pictures was never a priority in those days...I didn’t know anyone in those days who would appreciate where I had been.
To this day, I rarely take pictures when I am traveling solo. Stopping to take pictures pulls my focus away from the moment, and there are only a handful of people today with whom I'd care to share such special memories.

Over the last 10 years
I have spent countless night on all of the islands except Anacapa. However, I have recently begun volunteering with the Channel Islands Restoration Project, helping eradicate non-native plants and replanting native plants in Anacapa Island. Volunteering has given me the opportunity to give back to the amazing islands that have given me so many days and nights of peace and happiness.
Melissa Adylia Calasanz of Controlled Burn Fitness
Kicking up my heels on Anacapa Island
January 2012
While volunteering with the Channel Islands Restoration Project

January 2012, Anacapa Island
Channel Islands Restoration Project Volunteers hiking
in search of Island Dudleya
and working to eradicate non-native ice plant

I have spent several special occasions out on the islands
I've enjoyed 2 Thanksgivings out on Santa Cruz Island. During one of the Thanksgiving holidays, I had the entire island to myself for 4 days, except for one ranger. It was amazing! No day hikers/visitors or other campers! 75 degrees of crystal clear naked hiking, reading, eating, and sleeping.
I've enjoyed 3 New Years Eve’s on Santa Cruz Island. 
I have spent 3 birthdays on Santa Rosa Island (2 of mine and 1 of a friend).

Melissa Adylia Calasanz of Controlled Burn Fitness
Ringing in 2001
Santa Cruz Island
It poured the entire 3 nights and 4 days
No problem!
Plenty of bubbly, brie, pate, and unlimited miles of hiking made this gal super-happy!

June 14th, 2012
The most recent special occasion
Melissa Adylia Calasanz of Controlled Burn Fitness
and my wonderful husband Andrew Calasanz
I finally convinced Andrew to join me on an island adventure
He only agreed because it is what I wanted for my
40th Birthday

June 14th, 2012
Melissa Adylia Calasanz of Controlled Burn Fitness
and my wonderful husband Andrew Calasanz
about to board the Island Packers boat to Santa Cruz Island
the day before my 40th Birthday

June 15th, 2012
Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park
Melissa Adylia Calasanz of Controlled Burn Fitness
Happy with a pack on my back.
Exactly where I wanted to be for my 40th Birthday!

I've already booked my next San Miguel Trip for October 5th-8th
I will be traveling solo.
As much as I loved having Andrew with me on Santa Cruz Island for my 40th birthday, I love him enough to leave him at home.
He'd much prefer to be on the road while I'm out on the water, or on the trails with a pack on my back. 
I am so fortunate he understands how much I love to get away by myself.
Those times alone make coming home so much sweeter.