Trans-Catalina Trail Day 2: Mud and Tweas

 Damp Start

We woke up on our first real day on trail, and I have to be honest, I wasn’t super thrilled. Getting into our campsite in the dark and the rain the night before, was challenging, and it didn’t bode well for setting up our tents correctly in the timely manner we needed to. The ground was hard and filled with large rocks that made putting stakes in pretty difficult. It wasn’t the worst site that I have ever been in (considering it was a campground with running toilets only about a mile out of town). Unfortunately, the lack of stable tent, mixed with rain and cold weather, made for a chilly night at Hermit’s Gulch.

Hermit’s Gulch Campground ft. a lot of condensation

I can’t speak for Mountain Berry, but I had a less than ideal night of sleep, getting hit with harsh rain and wind in the middle of the night. My friends on trail like to joke around and call me “Runway-Funway” when I am having a miserable time, and that morning was definitely a Funway moment for me. My tent was wet, my sleeping bag was wet, my shoes were wet, and on top of it, one of my trekking poles wouldn’t properly snap into place. Regardless of all of this, I was determined to have a good day still.

Twisted Teas or Bust

We began the steep ascent on our first climb of the trail. It was a 1.5 mile, 1200-foot climb out of Hermit’s Gulch. The sun was shining and the fresh island air was engulfing. I took it all in. Without my hiking legs, the climb seemed a bit difficult, but nothing we weren’t already used to. Mountain Berry beat me to the top of the climb, patiently waiting for me at the picnic table with a Twisted Tea already in hand (yes, we are those girls). Being a more leisurely trail than we were used to, we dropped our packs and enjoyed the view.

picture of a picture of a twea

Only 1400 feet up and we could already see so much of the island. We looked down towards Avalon, where we could hear the rumblings of the cruise ship that was docked nearby. We looked to our right towards the Pacific Ocean, with endless breathtaking views. It being fairly early still, the early morning light was so warm and peered beautifully over the mountain tops.

Avalon Harbor, Santa Catalina Island

Onward and Upwards

We finished our Teas and packed them back into our bags. Luckily, this trail has a plethora of trash cans and stops, which made packing out fairly simple. We began to journey the rest of the day to Blackjack Campground around mile 10.8. The day wasn’t too difficult past our first initial climb. It gave us time to chat, take in the views, eat some lunch, and drink another Tea (don’t judge us). That is, until we got to the last few miles on trail.

Our friends from Kentucky had mentioned that there was a bit of mud that was hard to traverse around just before you get to Blackjack Campground. They weren’t wrong. We approached the muddy portion and there was really no way around it. I did some leapfrogging over some rocks, until eventually I gave up. I walked through calf deep and got completely covered in mud. Meanwhile, Mountain Berry managed to escape fairly unscathed, per usual. I’m convinced she makes me go first to take one for the team and work out a better path for herself. Smart move on her part.

Stupidity at its Finest

Not wanting to roll up to camp covered in mud, I thought it would be a good idea to wash off in the nearby pond. BAD IDEA. I walked over and stepped into the water with both feet and my pack on. The mud in the pond quickly pulled me down and I started screaming “oh no, oh no!”. It was that terrifying dream you have when you are a kid, getting pulled in by quicksand and never seen again. I thought, “This is it, it’s finally taken me”.

Luckily, I was able to plant my poles in the nearby dry land and pull myself out just as quickly as I got dragged in. Crisis averted. Unfortunately, I was even muddier than I was before. Mountain Berry had a quick laugh about it and I trudged along the last few miles in my soggy shoes and socks. I’m sure everyone can relate.

Days End

Blackjack Campground, Trans-Catalina Trail

We got to Blackjack by mid-afternoon and decided to set up camp. Being a real campground, I was fortunate that there was a water spigot waiting for me and I was able to wash my feet off before bed. We were exhausted and were planning on turning in early, especially because it started to get very cold as the sun went down. (If there was one thing about this trail I didn’t expect, it would be the temperature change from day to night. Bring layers if you plan to hike this trail!) Mountain Berry and I talked about our plan for the next day and were excited to get some sleep out of the rain.

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