Santa Cruz Island, Willows Anchorage, Channel Islands NP 2018

I've recently been looking for more new and wild places I can go having been once again bitten by a crazy adventure bug. I was looking for a nice weekend trip and lazily thought that I should try to visit Anacapa. But when I went to go search for tickets I saw this "special trip" Island Packers had arranged...a landing on the south side of Santa Cruz on Nature Conservancy property. I signed up immediately! I had inquired about a hiking permit from them before and was quickly denied, so it was a great opportunity.

When we started off from Ventura it was cloudy outside, and actually had a little misty rain driving down. As the boat got closer to Scorpion where we were dropping a bunch of people off, the clouds started to break. And leaving Scorpion now I was on an adventure, seeing new parts of the island I'd never seen before. As we swung around to the south side we passed by some wonderful outcroppings of giant coreopsis nestled into gorgeous eroded cliffs, beautiful cliff uplift strata patterns, and the colors of reds and greens like back in a few areas I've been here.

But then we got to Willows. The south side of the island was cmopletely cloud free and sunny, a beautiful day. Taking skiffs from the boat we landed on one of the prettiest beaches I've ever seen. But the wildflowers! One hike was up along a creek bed, and the flowers were gorgeous. Huge lupine bushes the size of small trees, enormous stands of monkeyflowers of lots of different orange, red and yellow varieties, the lovely island succulents, some lovely morning-glory stands, a sole wild rose, and others I have yet to identify! I felt like a little kid again just fascinated with all the flowers, the variety, and just how huge some of the plants were.

A second hike took us up onto a ridge overlooking the beach for a fun ridge hike, rolling up and down what was marked as an old trail. Gorgeous views of the creek canyon, the surrounding hills and the ocean awaited while surrounded by the island buckwheat and lupines alongside.

And of course had to spend some time on the beach. A little cold snorkeling for me, but still wading in the tidal pools of this gorgeous turquoise water looking at all of the interesting mussels that had attached themselves to the rocks was so relaxing.

Riding back, continuing to see the beautiful island, I hope the Nature Conservancy realizes how great of a thing it is not just to preserve and restore a place, but also to share it. Beauty like this shouldn't be walled off; at least share it with some of us who can be ambassadors for this special land. I still want to get inland and see the canyon...if Willows is any indication all the places I see only in my head from looking at maps must be equally as precious and stunning.

The Photographs

Picutres were from the a900 system with the 24-70, 70-400 and 100 macro lenses and an iPhone SE.

Click "Next" in the upper right to begin.