One of the tests for this trip was changing my sleep setup. Given I mostly sleep on my side, I decided to switch to a quilt instead of a traditional sleeping bag. It works so well! No longer was I fighting with my sleeping bag during the night. I was able to also solve my pillow height issue as well. For sleeping in a tent, I did fairly well.
Today’s route was really one of two parts; the first is a short 2.1-mile jaunt to the airport and the second is 6+ miles of mostly downhill into Little Harbor. I wanted to arrive at the airport closer to lunchtime, so I took my time enjoying my coffee and oatmeal. Once done with breakfast, I loaded my pack and headed out.
When I saw the airport the previous night when I tried to climb Mt. Orizban, it did not look too far away. Like many things on Catalina, however, nothing is a straight line.
I had some water in my internal bladder, but my side bottles were empty to save a little weight for a while. The route took me down a ravine before climbing back up again. Since I was in no hurry, I took a leisurely pace. I actually had a small water crossing. It had rained the week before and some of the water was still around. As I made my way up, I spotted 3 hikers heading toward me. It was a bit early for anyone coming from Little Harbor. It turned out they work for the conservancy and they were out counting snakes. I happily informed them that I had neither seen nor heard any today.
Once at the airport, I dropped my pack, found some shade, and enjoyed a cold soda. While the TCT is quite challenging, it intersects with civilization quite often. The airport was one of those intersections. After that cold drink, I ordered my bison burger with fries and another soda. I was here before when the twins and I had flown over with my friend Susan Bell for the same lunch. I let lunch settle a bit before starting to head out. Little Harbor is said to be a fantastic campsite so I wanted some time there. I filled my side bottles and bought two more sodas and an oatmeal raisin cookie for later. With mostly a descent ahead of me, the extra weight was fine.
A modest portion of this section of the TCT is on the road, so I encountered some actual traffic. First, a SoCal Edison truck passed me, and then an LA County Sheriff. Both slowed so as not to kick up any road dust. About 10 minutes later a paramedic and another sheriff’s jeep were headed toward the airport. Since they did not slow down, one could only assume someone was being transported. The day was warm and there was almost no shade. As I left the road and back onto a traditional trail I looked at my map and saw there was a shade shelter somewhere around mile 17. I could see it down below me and was looking forward to dropping my pack and sitting a spell. When I got there, however, surrounding it was a herd of 20+ bison! Some were standing, while others lay down all across the trail. Since I did not think they would be moving anytime soon I began figuring out plan B. I could just wait and hope they move one but the surrounding terrain looked fine and I took off cross-country around them.
I strolled into camp and found my site. I booked one further back in part for the quiet. I set up camp and then went exploring the campground. What a beautiful spot! I can see why folks would camp here multiple nights. I took off my shoes and let the cool Pacific Ocean wash over my feet. Then I headed back to my campsite and chatted with the woman in the next site over. I made my dinner, then headed to a nice spot to watch the sunset. No green flash this evening, but it was still lovely. I decided not to put up my rainfly and just stare at the stars from in my tent. The moon would be setting soon, so I could enjoy them as I listened to an audiobook before drifting to sleep.