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Backpacking the Trans-Catalina Trail in a weekend, Day 2

August 5, 2010 |  4:35 pm


Last month I wrote about the first leg of my trip along the Trans-Catalina Trail, and I've finally found time to finish my story.

For readers who, like me, have minimal time off work and wonder if backpacking the trail is possible in a long weekend, my last post made it pretty clear: it is not recommended. Navigating the hills from Avalon to Little Harbor was already going to be a 20-mile trip. Most would tell you that's too ambitious for the first day, when you're still getting used to carrying the load. But when you get lost twice on top of that, arriving at your campsite after dark with blisters on the bottoms of your feet, the next day seems impossible.

And that is why we decided to take the Safari bus the next day to Two Harbors. Call me naive, but going into the weekend, I didn't think we'd have to do it. I took comfort in my new walking poles, and the fact that Catalina's highest point is only about 2000 feet.

The 20-minute ride from the south coast to the north cost was $20 a person. Like the $66 round-trip ferry ride to Catalina, the only cheaper option is to walk (or sail).

Two Harbors is a smaller town than Avalon, with nicer views. Tourists kayaked and snorkeled offshore, as others gathered in the bar to cheer on the U.S. World Cup team. There is one hotel available. As we ate a buffalo burger, a waiter explained that people who live and work in Catalina get access to better jobs and maybe even a car with time. (The island can be strict in allowing residents to bring cars.) The buffalo burger was indeed buffalo, he said, but from the Midwest, not the island's bison.

Hike A mostly flat, seven-mile hike along the coast from Two Harbors ends at secluded Parson's Landing, our beachside campground for the second night. A reservation at one of the eight sites, while not cheap, includes a bundle of wood and water. Hobbling in on sore legs, we made friends with a solo camper, who agreed to combine firewood. She shared her beer; we shared our stories from the day before. Falling asleep and waking up to the sound of waves was serene, and the backdrop of large gray rocks and clouds calming.

If you're aiming for a less ambitious weekend trip than ours, try taking the ferry in and out of Two Harbors,  as our friend did. Camping at Parson's Landing is worth the hike in, and other trails surround the area, if you want to get a view from the hills or go all the way to the western tip of the land.

But if you want to backpack the Trans-Catalina Trail, learn from my mistakes: give yourself at least four days and three nights.

-- Clare Abreu (clare.abreu@latimes.com)

Top photo: Parson's Landing campground. Bottom photo: Hiking the final stretch to Parson's Landing.

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