Habitat Restoration Trip to Channel Islands

On October 15-19, 1998, a group of nine volunteers from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) Habitat Restoration Team (HRT) went down south to the Channel Islands National Park. Our mission was to eradicate some Tree Tobacco and visit with Steve, an ex-intern from the GGNRA, now a ranger at the Channel Islands.

Click on any thumbnail picture to get a larger version

Sunset at Ventura

Some of us arrived early enough Thursday evening to ponder the sunset at the beach in Ventura. Most arrived after dark, though. Fortunately, the host at McGrath Beach State Park campground didn't lock the campground gate, because some of our crew arrived in the wee hours of the morning (2:00 am).

On the Boat

We got up near dawn Friday morning, loaded our gear onto the large Park Service boat, and took an hour-long ride to Scorpion cove on Santa Cruz Island. Here you see Dina, Maria, and Roy trying not to get seasick.

Santa Cruz Island

During most of the boat ride, we couldn't see much of the island, since we rode on the rear deck of the boat. Here's a view of the island when we're almost there.

Landing in the Zodiac

There's no dock near our landing spot, so getting ashore is quite an adventure. The boat has a crane which is used to lower the inflatable Zodiac into the water. Then the crane is used to lower our gear into the Zodiac. Finally, the Zodiac goes to the back of our big boat, and passengers climb down the ladder into the skiff. The Zodiac pilot does an excellent job of landing in the surf, bringing the boat to a stop on the beach so that we hardly get our feet wet disembarking and unloading. It took about five or six trips to get everything and everyone ashore.

Gear Loaded

At Scorpion Ranch, where we landed, we loaded our gear onto some trailers pulled by little Honda 4X4 ATV's. Here you see Dina, Jaime, Laurie, Roy, Ingrid, Maria, and Steve planning our next course of events. Notice the bright green Sea Noodle on top of the trailer. These provided no end of fun in the surf. Also notice the case or two of beer precariously perched on the back of the trailer. Fortunately, the beer made it across the island OK.

The ATV's drove over to Smuggler's cove, a 3.5 mile trip. The rest of us hiked. It wasn't long, but the trail was a bit steep in places.

Jaime at the Adobe

Editor's note: this one is worth clicking on the thumbnail to download the big image, although it will take awhile.

An old Adobe ranchhouse was our base of operations at Smuggler's Cove. Here's Jaime on Saturday morning, bright and early as you can see from the sundial built into the wall above the front door.

We cooked meals at the Adobe, and camped about a quarter mile away on the beach.

Scouting for Aliens

Here are some of us on Saturday afternoon, scouting for tree tobacco in the deep, steep canyons around Smuggler's cove.

In the Canyon

Our return trip Saturday afternoon took us through a beautiful deep narrow canyon. Good thing it wasn't raining, because it wouldn't take much to produce a flash flood!

Pre-dawn at Smuggler's Cove

On Sunday morning, I awoke to this view of the crescent moon over Anacapa Island in the pre-dawn twilight. Several boats spent the night near us in the shelter of the cove. I took this photo from inside the cozy warmth of my sleeping bag. I confess that I snoozed for another hour or so before actually getting up.

The thumbnail really doesn't do the crescent moon justice!

Smuggler's Cove

Here's a view from one of our worksites, showing Smuggler's cove, where we camped on the beach. That water was cool and looked refreshingly tempting during the heat of the day.

Maria using Chainsaw

And finally, here's a picture of us actually working! That's Maria attacking the tree tobacco using a chainsaw on the steep slopes.

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©1998 Richard Cochran
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