26 January 2011

Parsons Landing toward Starlight Beach

Date:  23 January 2011
Who hiked:  Hubby and I
Where:  Parsons Landing toward Starlight Beach and back
When: 1120 - 1430
Distance:  5.75 miles (measured on GoogleEarth)
Weather:  sunny and clear, temps in low 70s

View of Parsons Landing from atop the waterfall
On Saturday night, Hubby and I ran into a friend, Mrs. Great Dane, who has a son the same age as Thing1.  She invited both Things to their home (farther out on the west end of Catalina) for Sunday afternoon.  Hubby and I viewed this as a prime opportunity for us to do some hiking together sans Things and took her up on her kind offer.

Sunday morning we motivated the kids to finish their Sunday jobs with the promise of a day with Great Dane boy and their new Great Dane puppy.  It was not a tough sell.  We set out for the West End, along the treacherous West End Road, dropped the Things off at Camp Great Dane, then proceeded to the bargate before Parsons Landing.  Our plan was to hike along the Trans Catalina Trail (TCT) between Parsons Landing and Starlight Beach.  We didn't intend to reach Starlight, though we were curious to see how far we could get before we needed to turn back. 

The trail was very nice, with steep uphill portions at the beginning (and even some switchbacks!) that flatten out after rounding Stony Point.  From here, the trail follows the eastern edge of Catalina with lovely views of the water and the western end of the island. 

Lemonade berry flowers
It is a beautiful time on the island, with lemonadeberry in bloom and toyon in fruit.  There are some wildflowers, but not many yet.

I have blogged about Parsons Landing before and won't belabor that portion of the hike here.  We hiked on the road, taking the fork that leads uphill (away from the beach).  In about 0.6 mi, we reached the Trans Catalina Trail (TCT).  After about 0.4 mi, the trail snakes up the face of the hill and leads to the top of a seasonal waterfall in about 0.5 mi.  The creek bed is a good place to look for amethysts and I found a nice one.  From the top of the waterfall, it's only about 0.2 mi to Stony Point, where the trail flattens out.

View of Black Point from our lunch stop
After Stony Point there are only occasional climbs, most of the walking is nice and flat.  And lovely.  We found a picturesque place for lunch and took a breather.  Then we continued until we were above Black Point (about a mile from Stony Point) where we turned around and retraced our steps.

On our return, we decided to take a side trail that forked off the main trail just beyond the seasonal waterfall.  The trail was obviously less used -- shrubs encroached on the path and grass grew at our feet.  We followed this footpath for about 0.2 mi to a makeshift bridge crossing a stream (complete with running water), and then the trail led us downhill.  There were old timbers of a hunting lodge here, which had been used by pig hunters during the boar eradication program of the 1990s.  

We picked up the road again a short while later, and crossed the TCT in about a quarter mile to continue to the beach at Parsons Landing (a distance of about 0.4 miles).  After a brief stop in the port-a-potty, we walked back to the road via the trail between Parsons Landing (about 0.5 mi) and the road that we had used on our previous hike here.

We are looking forward to hiking this with the Things -- they will really like the flat bits.  Perhaps for an overnight to Starlight Beach?

Birds:  Catalina quail (large coveys), Northern ravens, Red-tailed hawk, Western gulls, Orange-crowned warblers (heard), Spotted towhees (heard), Bewicks wren (heard)

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