Sunday, April 12, 2009

Channel Islands National Park

Chris and I decided to finally visit the national park that sits right in our back yard. That would be Channel Islands National Park which encompasses five (of eight) islands: Anacapa, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, Santa Barbara, and the one we visited, Santa Cruz, the largest at 96 square miles. We were deposited at Scorpion Anchorage (below) by Island Packers on Thursday morning and walked the flat 1/2 mile past the old Scorpion Ranch to the Park campground, our home for the next two nights. In this photo Anacapa Island is visible in the upper left corner:

Like the better known Galapagos Islands of South America, Channel Islands' isolation has allowed evolution to proceed independent of the mainland. Eight plant species and one bird, the island scrub jay, are known only to Santa Cruz Island. The island fox, which wouldn't stand still for a photograph--we saw about a half dozen--lives only on the Channel Islands and is making a great comeback after numbering in the double digits in 1994!

The topography of Santa Cruz is remarkably diverse with grasslands, rocky mountain ranges (high point 2000+ ft.), pine forests, chaparral, and 77 miles of jagged coastline, with lots of sea caves, tidepools, beaches, and solitude. With over 50 miles of accessible trails and old grassy ranch roads--and no cars!--the island is a runner's paradise. :)

Montanon Ridge was surprisingly rugged. The grassland above was only minutes away from this rocky scramble.

We crested the ridge, then took a well-worn herd path almost a mile to the summit. There was even a register up there!
Some of the grassier trails were mowed, a joy to run on.

It got into the 40s at night, hence the down jacket. Daytime temps were in the 60s. This is part of the two-mile scenic loop from the campground:

Crazy trees out of the Wizard of Oz!

Part of the fox recovery plan involved the controversial eradication of non-native feral pigs. We were told that about 8,000 of them were trapped and shot--both on the ground and "Palin style" from helicopters. The last pigs were killed as recently as October 2006. We found a Golden Eagle trap (?) on stilts, next to a piggie cemetery.

My, what big teeth you have...


Anonymous said...

This is great - you should be on Facebook

olga said...

Sue, what awesome adventures you are living!

RunSueRun said...

I don't do Facebook. :D

Nice skirt Olga!

meredith said...

What awesome pics! I love "the mask" mer