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August 28, 2011

On a Deserted Island

Santa Cruz Island

Santa Barbara Channel sea lions

Santa Cruz Island fox

Santa Cruz Island

After the rockiest boat ride of my entire life and a mild case of motion sickness, I arrived at Santa Cruz Island on Friday afternoon with some family members for some hiking and relaxation. Many visitors go to the island for kayaking, snorkeling, and camping trips, but we only had a few hours to enjoy the scenery and explore the trails.  After happily disembarking from the boat, spotting a few of the endemic island foxes, listening to the birds sing, and stowing our lunch in a raven and fox proof box, it was time for a short but steep hike.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, the island is home to 4' long gopher snakes, but fortunately for this ophidiophobe, we did not spot any. (Had I known about the aforementioned reptiles, I would not have enjoyed the hike nearly as much.)

Being on the quiet and pristine island certainly gives you a perspective on the impact humans have on nature. As close as the adorable and tiny island foxes came to us, we weren't allowed to feed the wildlife, nor could we leave behind any trash on the island.  (The lack of trash cans reinforced this rule.) It's quite a remarkable experience going from a bustling southern California city to a seemingly deserted island only about 20 miles from shore.

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