Trans-Catalina Trail Day 4: Bison vs Berry

Good Morning, Beautiful

After the beautiful day spent at Little Harbor, Mountain Berry and I were ready to tackle the next day. Nights were pretty cold on the island, so as much as I wanted to sleep in, the cold ocean breeze in the morning jerked me awake. I got out of my tent around dawn and Mountain Berry was already up and taking her food bag out for her breakfast. Still half asleep, I began to meander over to her when I saw something turn the corner into the tent site. Since she was facing me she couldn’t see what was approaching her, and in my sleepy state I could only mumble “oh god, oh god” over and over again.

It was a Bison. A 1,000 lb-bison was standing directly in front of us and the only thing standing in its way was Mountain Berry. Thinking it was just some more pesty ravens, she turned around quickly and began to shoo them away. Upon realizing it was a bison, she let out the funniest noise. A loud squaw came out of her mouth, a combination of fear and hostility. Luckily, this was a friendly bison, and was almost unphased by our shenanigans. It slowly walked away and we let out a sigh of relief… and a LOT of laughter. That 6:00 a.m. wake up call was not really what we were expecting, but sure made for a memorable experience at Little Harbor. We packed up and were on our way.

Friends in High Places

The morning was filled with some of the steepest climbs of the trail coming out of Little Harbor. After an hour or two of steep climbs, we reached the summit stop, put our packs down, and had our morning snack followed by a Twisted Tea (our trusty drink of choice). A man not too far behind us came hustling down the trail and approached us with the biggest smile on his face. He was so excited he had caught up to us because he had captured a hilarious video of me on the steep climb we had just finished. We began talking and continued our walk with our new friend.

We reached Two Harbors by midday and stopped into town for a quick bite. After hearing about the fresh pizza at the general store, we were exited to get our hands on some. Unfortunately our timing was off and we weren’t able to get them. We made do with some frozen burritos and began on our way again. For those who are traversing the trail in a similar way, don’t underestimate the climb back out of Two Harbors. Luckily at this point our legs were used to the climbs, however, the hot afternoon sun made the steep climb out hot and endless. We reached the peak and could see endless views of the Pacific Ocean and onto the California coast. It was amazing.

Friends in High Places

We could see Parson’s Landing from the top of the mountain, the last camp on our trip. We began to climb down the mountain, and boy was it steep. With not much to hold onto but Cactus branches, we ever so slowly walked and slid down the trail. I couldn’t imagine doing this portion during a rainstorm, as it was some of the steepest downhill grade I have ever been on.

A Fire Finish

And with that, we made it to Parson’s Landing, the most primitive site on the Trans Catalina Trail. It was incredible. The sites are right on the beach, and is limited to only a few hikers at a time, once again based on a reservation system. Our new friend we had met in the morning had carried in hot dogs and chorizo all the way from Two Harbors. We also made friends with a few other women hiking the trail, and one happened to be an herbalist. We learned a lot about foraging and enjoyed cactus over the fire as well. We had ourselves a feast. It was the perfect ending to an amazing hike.

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