We decided to do a low-key overnight trip on Catalina Island by taking the ferry with our folding kayaks (the last ferry service that I could find to carry a hardshell went out of business a couple of years ago).   The unimproved boat-in campsites on the island are actually quite beautiful.  You have to reserve them on-line and it pays to do so early since they can fill up quickly in the summer with powerboaters looking for a place to camp.    The Badger had done a long camping trip on Catalina two years before, so we chose to stay at Cabrillo Harbor, a large, rocky beach with a beautiful protruding rock just offshore.  To begin the trip, we drove to the Dana Point harbor and hopped aboard a Catalina Express ferry to Avalon, the main city on Catalina Island.  The trip was beautiful despite some clouds and we could see the island from more than 15 miles away.  After landing at Avalon, we went to a small beach about a quarter mile from the terminal, built our boats and packed our equipment and food for the night before paddling into the azure water in the main Avalon cove.  The island had been hit with a massive wildfire only a year prior, but it looked like the island had recovered nicely and there was little evidence of the destruction.  The wind picked up quickly, but we were protected by the island, although we could see that the water about a quarter mile out from where we were paddling was very stirred up.  That's one of the great things about Catalina;  if you're looking for a gentle ocean paddle, you can always find it.  We made our way up the island, leisurely exploring coves and rock formations as we made our way to the campsite.  The surf is negligible on this side of the island, so landing and launching doesn't require breaking the surf.  We landed early, made camp and just relaxed on the rock beach, picking up pearlescent shells and rocks smoothed by the gently crashing waves.  We discovered a path cut by a small stream that led up the side of the steep cliffs that surrounded our campsite and took a three hour detour to climb it;  we reached the top after a 1000 foot climb through beautiful woods (most of it fairly vertical) and were treated to a grassy plain that afforded us a stunning view of the island and the surrounding ocean.  The way down was quite a bit trickier due to the steepness of the terrain, but we made it back down in one piece (with at least one tick attacked; as a note, Lyme disease is endemic on Catalina) and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing.  After an early wakeup the next day, we packed the boats and slowly made our way back to Avalon where we landed at the same beach and took apart our boats before checking them at the terminal storage facility ($20 for the day to store your stuff) before grabbing lunch and walking around the town. 

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