Twas the week before Thanksgiving and all through the house, Tara and Sylvie were madly packing for their first adventure out. Okay, so it wasn’t our first-first hiking or even overnight camping adventure, but it was our first expedition where we would hike into a campsite, overnight there, and then hike out to the next campsite the next day.
We had been planning to go hike the Trans-Catalina Trail for a few weeks, slowly gathering the gear we would need and the food, reviewing trail maps, and planning where we’d camp. Sylvie booked our ferry, and I bought our permits/booked our camp sites.
Technically you can book the sites through recreation.gov or reservaamerica.org, but we ran into two problems with this. First, we were planning on hiking on Thanksgiving weekend, and the websites have a two-night minimum on most major holidays. We did not need two nights at each of the sites, but only one night. Second, you need to register to hike the actual Trans-Catalina Trail, and I couldn’t seem to find where to do that via those sites. So, I called the friendly folks at the Catalina Island Conservancy and they directed me to speak with the Santa Catalina Island Company (specifically Janet Slathers).
Janet rocked! She took care of helping me book and overcoming the two-night minimum, and said that they way we’d done this now included our hiking permit. So, if you decide you want to go hike the trail, don’t try to figure out the website, call Janet.
Based on BearfootTheory’s post on the trail, we decided to camp night 1 at BlackJack and night 2 at Two Harbors. We only had three days, so we would go as far as we could on day 3 from the isthmus on. Or that was our plan.
We had also planned to find a time before we left to pack our supplies together. With the Thanksgiving holiday, that just didn’t happen. In the future, I really think we need to make sure that we pack together so that we can eliminate excess weight by doing things like packing one toothpaste instead of two. As it was, my pack weighed in a 50 pounds and Sylvie’s at 35. Both of those are pretty much at the upper limit of what we should be shouldering.
So, turkey day arrived, and I had to joy of dining at my former roommate’s place, who has hosted an amazing fete since he got his own gorgeous place on the beach 6 years ago. Now that he has children, this year’s gathering was smaller than in past years, so the conversations were more in depth. As I caught up with others around the room, the plan for hiking the John Muir Trail kept coming up. Everyone was very supportive, but one thing people kept asking me if we were inspired to do this hike because of the movie Mile… Mile and a Half. I kept replying, “no,” because I’d never even heard of the movie.
So, full of turkey and good cheer, I went home to finalize packing and prep for our early morning ferry the next day. But the thought of this movie that had so moved everyone kept popping into my head. So, when I had weighed the pack, pulled out as much as I could and then reweighed it at 50 pounds, I gave up and decided to see if I could find the movie.
Luckily, it was on Netflix. And I am so glad I watched it. Mile… Mile and a Half is a documentary about a group of artist friends hiking the John Muir Trail a few years ago. The images they show and the way they talk about the journey are so inspiring. And a little daunting too. But, watching them do it made it all feel a little more real to me. As I tucked into bed that night, I was nervous and excited and inspired for the adventure facing me the next day, but the movie somehow provided a little more comfort that I was on the right track with the goal of hiking this whole behemoth the next year.