I got on the ferry at Long Beach at nine in the morning and over an hour later made landfall at the harbor of Avalon, one of two small towns on the island. Avalon is a very compact and interesting town where the majority of inhabitants drive golf carts as their primary vehicle. After getting my hiking permit at the Catalina Conservancy Office I went to track down a bus that would take me about 5 miles into the interior to get to the start of the trail to climb Orizaba. But upon visiting the offices of both bus companies on the island I came to the seemingly devastating conclusion that I would not be climbing Orizaba that day as there were no buses running into the interior. I thought briefly about trying to make it to the summit hiking from Avalon but I knew if I tried such a thing - over 20 miles round trip - it would be dark by the time I hiked back into town and I might miss the last ferry back to Long beach.
The islanders were of a friendly sort though and one older man who saw me looking at my map simply suggested I hike up into the hills around Avalon. As I climbed into the hills above the town I realized that this day would not be a disappointment. I was amazed by the beauty of my surroundings as I hiked along the crest of the island. The Pacific Ocean stretched into the distance with San Clemente Island in the foreground to the southwest and to the northeast was the blue of the San Pedro Channel and the snow-capped mountains of Southern California in the distance. While it was obvious that this island was a much more arid environment than my home in Western Washington I was surprised by the lush growth of a wide variety of shrubs, trees and plants as I hiked around.
Dodecatheon sp. - lots of these at the lower elevations.
Looking to the north - some interesting trees and the southern Californian mainland in the distance.
My initial goal had been Mt. Orizaba, the highest point on the left. Maybe next time.
A green hillside on the southwest side of the island. If you look closely you can see a lot of Prickly Pear cacti (Opuntia) on the hillside.
Looking to the northwest. The town of Avalon in the foreground. In the distance is snow-capped Mt. Baldy, highest point in Los Angeles county.
After hiking for about five hours I found a great place to watch the sun set over the Pacific. I had brought City of God with me so I read an interesting chapter where Augustine recounted various healing miracles he had witnessed during his ministry. The sunset was quite impressive and it was dark by the time I made it back to town - just in time for the 6:15 ferry.
Sunset from Catalina
My ride back to the mainland.