June 22, 2011
By Sabrina Lawrence-Gomez
We spent today flagging the trail all the way to the summit! We started at the Picnic Oak where we ended yesterday and placed markers all the way up. We were lucky to have Sarah Ratay, the Conservancy’s Senior Plant Biologist, joining us. Because we want our trail to be as minimally invasive as possible, we needed Sarah’s expertise to ensure we weren’t harming any rare plants. She walked the trail with us and made some suggestions to help circumvent some rare plants. Chris and Charlie hiked ahead to help us find more control points while the rest of us spread out through the area trying to find feasible routes. We reached a couple of roadblocks.
First, the fence-line on the left hand side of the trail prevented us from crossing the hillside to gain a more reasonable slope and cross-slope. The fence was placed in this area back when the Conservancy was eradicating the goats and pigs from the island. It is part of a system of fences that break the island into smaller containment or management zones, that help land managers deal with each parcel and each problem at a time. The fences are still in place to help manage deer and bison, although the latter are capable of simply walking through the barrier!
The second obstacle we reached was the drainage area on the right hand side. What creates a beautiful feature lower on the trail, is a great rock cavern higher up the hill. The third obstacle was extremely high slope with little cross-slope. The area was pretty much vertical. As we hiked up a stretch, we turned back around to measure the slope and it was laughable how ridiculously steep it was. We solved all of these problems by hugging the fence-line to the left and making a slow and steady ascent across the hillside reaching the right hand side. We continued up the hillside in the other direction and found a great path through some trees with some natural rock steps leading up. Once we reached the summit we were greeted with the Catalina Crososoma, a Channel Islands endemic plant, and some Indian paintbrush, or Castilleja, an iconic American species. It was a great find at the end of the trail! At the top you reach the road to the interior and the bison gate. The gate is in place to keep animals in the interior, but some rogue male bison still break through and wander the hillsides of the west end.
I feel very confident in the trail route we created and I think it will be a great addition to the Wrigley campus. Having the trail connect to the road that leads interior is a very valuable; it will allow hikers to access the Wrigley campus from the main road, making the amenities offered even more accessible. Troops of Boy Scouts and other camps often hike down the main road, so maybe trips to Wrigley’s touch tanks, kayaking, and snorkeling can be added to their adventures! I also hope that this trail can serve as an informative interpretive hike that encourages people to learn more about Catalina while they enjoy the outdoors.
For more photos see Day 11 Scouting and Flagging the Trail