Fill up the Knapsacks And Hit the Trails of The Great Outdoors

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During this harsh economic recession, we've all had to make tough sacrifices. But if island getaways, trips to isolated beaches, and stunning ocean vistas are not among the luxuries you're willing to give up, there is good news in these trying times: you don't have to.

Last spring, the Catalina Island Conservancy opened the Trans-Catalina Trail-a 37.2 mile hiking trail through the interior of Catalina Island-to the public, giving the adventurous souls among us a great way to explore this Southern California gem.

Backpacking trips require much more preparation than most vacations- you don't want to end up stranded in the middle of the wilderness with no food or missing equipment. Before embarking on your journey, visit Sport Chalet to rent equipment, take a trip to grocery store to stock up on beef jerky and trail mix, and visit the Catalina Island Conservancy website to get hiking and camping permits for the island.

After a quick ferry ride to Avalon Harbor-the only real city on Catalina Island-it's time to hit the trail. A recommended trip includes three days of hiking, and staying at two different campsites on the island (Blackjack and Shark Harbor). The hike ends at Two Harbors, the lesser-known harbor on Catalina, where you can catch a ferry back to LA.

The hiking is challenging, especially since backpacks full of equipment can weigh upwards of 40 pounds, but the trail is spectacular. The hike is full of breathtaking ocean views, surprisingly varied island ecosystems, and even the occasional bison spotting.

One of the highlights of the trail is the the beach at Shark Harbor, where you may want to set up camp after your second day of hiking. Swimming at this isolated and picturesque beach offers a great way to cool off after a long day's trek, and sleeping in the sand with no one around and the sound of waves crashing on the shore is absolutely surreal.

Spring offers the best time to enjoy the trail as the vegetation will be in full bloom and the weather will be most forgiving. This hike is definitely not for those whose idea of a vacation includes 4-star-hotels and room service; but if you are willing to brave the wild terrain of Catalina Island for a few days of rewarding hiking, this is the trip for you.

Contact Shaunt Attarian at [email protected]

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