January 18, 2010
The Trans-Catalina Trail
Posted by Gordon Smith

In a post on New Years Day, I mentioned that my twin sons reached their goal of earning all 121 Scouting merit badges by the end of 2009. (More to come in 2010!) When they established that goal at the beginning of last summer, I realized immediately that the most difficult merit badge would be Backpacking, which requires, among other things, "at least three backpacking treks of at least three days each and at least 15 miles each" and "a backpacking trek of at least five days using at least three different campsites and covering at least 30 miles." 

Our first three-day trek was to Yellowstone National Park, where we saw a bear. The boys took two subsequent three-day treks with their Scout leaders -- one to the top of Kings Peak, the highest peak in Utah, and the other in Moab, in southern Utah. That left only the five-day trek, but we had run out of summer, so we started investigating various possibilities for the holiday break. 

One of our neighbors suggested Catalina Island, and I was thrilled to learn that the island is transversed by a 37.2 mile trail. which opened just last year. What's more, the Trans-Catalina Trail has a series of campsites at just the right intervals for a five-day trek. Watching the video, I didn't focus on the fact that Catalina has some pretty high mountains of its own. They aren't the Rockies, but when you are lugging a pack, they are plenty steep.

The temperatures dipped into the 40s at night, but the days were mostly in the 60s. We ate peanut butter and jelly tortillas for lunch and freeze-dried food for dinner, but we camped next to the ocean on three of the nights, and we saw some amazing scenery. We finally retrieved the photos of our trip from my son's camera. Here is a taste of our adventure ...


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