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.