9 miles / 1,969 feet ascent
In the middle of the night, I woke to the sound of my quilt draft stopper flapping in the breeze. Stars lit the night sky overhead, while below, I could see the few lights signaling Two Harbors. It was three a.m. and the temperature was warm. I tried to calculate how long it could take to hike the remaining miles to Parson’s Landing and Two Harbors. I had gone to sleep near seven p.m., so I’d already slept for eight hours. I decided I’d gotten enough sleep and that it was a good time to pack and start walking. In my hiker-brain mode, I also tried to calculate whether I would have enough water to add the out-and-back to Starlight Beach, but my brain just wasn’t going to do the math.
The Franko Map that I was carrying directed me to take Boushay Road, but the detailed map from the visitor’s center showed the trail on Fenceline Road. I decided to follow the detailed map and continued on. Once I started hiking downhill on Fenceline Road, I realized that this was the hair-raising, steep and slippery road that my friend Sunkist had written about (https://mizipatty.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/ups-and-downs-on-the-island/). At several points, even while taking the smallest, most careful steps, my feet would become forced to move faster because of sheer gravity. I kept having to stop myself by running off the road into the grass much like a runaway truck. When I was luckier, I would stop myself on the road like I was pulling the emergency breaks. I would then start inching downhill again as carefully as I could. Luckily in the dark, I couldn’t see just how long the section would be, and that kept me calm.
Eventually, that harrowing slope ended, and I reached a sign telling me I was close to Parson’s Landing. I could now hear the waves crashing along a beach. A few minutes later, I passed the quiet campground which sat along the water. It was still dark, so I continued past the campground, not to disturb anyone sleeping. Here, I checked my remaining water and decided I wouldn’t have enough to hike the ten-mile out-and-back to Starlight Beach in addition to the seven miles back to Two Harbors. Regretfully, I had to let that go.
Just after five a.m., a dim red glow lined the horizon. After miles of steep climbs and descents, West End Road was an extremely flat and fast hike. Now, seeing just how fast these last seven miles would be, I wondered if I would have had enough water to do the ten mile out-and-back to Starlight Beach. I wished I had thought to bring six liters of water instead of only four. It wouldn’t have been much more of a water carry, and I would have been able to hike to Starlight Beach. Perhaps I’ll plan this hike again, and next time, be prepared for a longer water carry.
As I reached Two Harbors, a couple in their fifties sauntered on an early morning walk, paper cups of coffee in hand. We exchanged greetings and as I passed them, I knew I was near the end.
At Two Harbors, I jumped in the hot showers rinsing myself and my clothes as much as I could, then put the rinsed clothes back on. I exchanged my ferry ticket for the noon ferry departure, and bought a coffee and breakfast burrito from the general store. I ran into two hikers, Mark and Kira, whom I had met the day before. We exchanged stories while other hikers sat at the tables around us, all of us eating much appreciated fresh food. One thing about these shorter trails in comparison to the Pacific Crest Trail, is that people are hiking to bond within their own groups, but are not very interested in talking to others. It reminded me of when I met John Muir Trail hikers after months of hiking alone on the PCT. Despite having looked forward to their company, I discovered that they weren’t as interested in meeting strangers, especially loopy-brained strangers desperate for human contact.
Perhaps I’ll come back to the Trans Catalina Trail again, next time completing the out-and-back to Starlight Beach. It’s a very new trail of mostly steep road walking, but I’m glad I took the time to do it.