Aztec Adventures

Channel Islands National Park Backpacking

Upcoming Channel Islands National Park Backpacking Outings




Left Double Quotation Mark

I was very impressed with the leadership. My experience was incredible and I will for sure go on another Aztec [Adventures] trip



Awesome. Period. Just awesome.






About Channel Islands National Park Backpacking

Twenty-five miles off the coast from Ventura, Santa Cruz is the largest island off the coast of California.  The island is a tableland of lush grasses and wildflowers, with 77 miles of jagged, rocky coastline dotted with sandy and cobbled beaches. The Channel Islands’ largest land mammal, the island fox, can be seen frequently on Santa Cruz.  Lying directly on the boundary between cold northern and warm southern waters, this island hosts unique plant, animal and marine communities’ representative of nearly 1000 miles of California coastline.  

Our goal is to introduce you to Channel Islands National Park backpacking by selecting a route that offers challenge, good scenery and excellent camping.  We will spend our time learning Leave No Trace skills and numerous backpacking techniques as we traverse 21 miles, up and down, of Santa Cruz Island.  This trip is a great opportunity for first time backpackers and visitors to the Channel Islands. However, our packs will start off being heavy as we each will be carrying 8 liters of water in addition to the rest of our gear and food.

Channel Islands National Park Backpacking

Itinerary

Pre-Trip Meeting: The mandatory Pre-Trip Meeting is held the Monday, the week of your trip, from 6-7:30pm in the Aztec Meeting Center (AMC), right outside the ARC. You will meet the leaders and other trip members, as well as cover all details such as weather, menu, safety issues, and clothing requirements.

Day 1: Depart SDSU by 6 p.m. and we will drive approx. 2.5-3 hours to Ventura where we will camp for the night.

Day 2: Wake up early to take the Island Packers ferry and be taken 25 miles across Pacific to our trailhead at Prisoner’s Harbor.  Once we unload the gear, we will have lunch then proceed 3.5 miles to the Del Norte campsite which is located in a beautiful pine and oak forest protected from the frequent winds.  Our campsite is a short walk from the “vault” toilets and our amenities include plenty of tent space, picnic table and animal proof boxes for storing all of our food and toiletries.  The only drinking water will be that which we carry in.  So after setting up camp, our first challenge includes cooking dinner with one burner stoves—an essential skill for all backpackers.  After dinner, for those that still have energy, a sunset hike to the top of the island is in order. 

Day 3:  Wake up early Saturday morning and cook a nutritious and filling breakfast before loading up our backpacks for the slow, steady and scenic island traverse to Scorpion Anchorage.  Our day will start with a steep climb, but once we reach the ridgeline it will be mostly downhill to our campsite at Scorpion 11 miles away.  There will be opportunities to drop our packs for side hikes with the favorite being Smugglers Cove on the south side of the island. The plan is to reach our reserved group site in Scorpion Canyon with plenty of daylight for setting up camp and cooking our second dinner together.  Drinking water and vault toilets will be available.

Day 4:  Sleep in and enjoy a late breakfast.  Pack up one more time and enjoy a 6 mile hike to Potato Harbor and Cavern Point before ending our visit at the Scorpion Anchorage.  Trip members can explore the Visitor Center/Museum before our Island Packers boat arrives at 4pm.  Weather permitting the boat ride takes an hour and we should have the van loaded and on our way by 6:00pm.  Plan to arrive back at SDSU by 8:30 pm.



Packing List

We are limited on space, and the less stuff you bring, the less you have to carry around. Ask yourself…What would I want in the coldest weather or the hottest weather? Pack to be prepared for both!

Things that should be packed inside your personal day pack
and kept with you inside the van:

  • Small day pack
  • NO FLIP FLOPS!
  • Money for road meals
  • A warm layer
  • Headlamp
  • Travel size pillow
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Camera

 


 

PERSONAL EQUIPMENT:
  • Sunglasses w/retainer strap
  • Personal stuff — extra contact lenses, chap-stick, sunscreen, baby wipes, baby powder, ear plugs, hand lotion, medications you usually take…
  • 2 durable crush proof one liter water bottles or a hydration pack
  • Toilet paper in a Ziploc bag
  • Small, light weight fast drying camp towel



CLOTHING LIST:

HEAD:

  • Wide brimmed shade hat
  • Beanie / stocking cap
  • Bandana

HANDS:

  • Gloves

FEET:

  • NO FLIP FLOPS!
  • Tennis shoes with good ankle support
  • Hiking Socks
  • Hiking Shoes / Boots

UPPER BODY:

  • Cotton or synthetic blend hiking shirt (breathable layer)
  • Cotton or synthetic camp shirt (a clean shirt to wear at camp)
  • Synthetic Long Sleeve Top(s) – Polypro, Capilene, or polyester.
  • Fleece jacket or sweatshirt
  • Sports bra
  • Windbreaker

LOWER BODY:

  • Nylon shorts
  • Light weight long pants/ cotton or synthetic hiking pants
  • Rain Pants (Aztec Adventures can provide this if you don’t have your own!)
  • Sweatpants
  • Underwear
  • Synthetic long underwear (top & bottom)
  • Bathing suit



Personal Equipment:
Provided by Aztec Adventures

  • 20˚ sleeping bag and Thermarest sleeping pad
  • Ground Tarp
  • Tent with rain fly (sleeps 2-3)
  • Head lamp
  • Camp chair
  • Rain gear (if you don’t have your own)
  • Coffee mug, bowl, and utensils
  • Trekking Poles
  • Gregory Backpack (+5500 cubic inches)

Group Equipment:
Provided by Aztec Adventures

  • Expedition First Aid Kit
  • Ground Tarp
  • Stoves, fuel and all cooking gear-pots, pans, utensils, spice kit, etc.
  • Repair kit for tents, stoves, packs, etc.
  • Water bags — 2+ gallon bags for camp use
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts
  • Satellite Phone
Channel Islands National Park Backpacking

Outfitting

We take great pride in the equipment we provide our trip members. We fully realize that sleeping warm and comfortable, staying dry and being able to see in the dark, just to mention a few items, is essential to a successful and safe trip. We carry top of the line tents, sleeping bags, foam pads, backpacks, dry bags, rain gear, head lamps, wetsuits, spray jackets, and much more. The cost of your trip includes group-gear outfitting.

Food

Aztec Adventures aspires towards a sustainable future. We work hard to prepare meals that are nutritious, delicious and sustainable. Most of our menu consists largely of vegetarian meals as we believe eating lower on the food chain is both healthier for us and the planet in the long run. Our primary goal is to expose and educate our trip members to the joys of eating good food while camping and adventuring. We have found, over many years that our trip members thoroughly enjoy the food we prepare and serve and do not miss a meat centered diet. In addition, when travelling by vehicle to and from our outdoor destinations, we make every effort to stop at locally-family owned restaurants and eateries so as to ensure the majority of the money we spend stays in that community and with the family.


No showers will be available. Pit toilets are available both nights with running water only available on night two.   The remainder of the trip is without restrooms, requiring everyone to practice the Leave No Trace Principle of Disposing of Waste Properly (see Leave No Trace Principles).  Light weight tents, warm synthetic sleeping bags, foam pads and ground tarps will be provided to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep. We will have a reserved camp ground on hard packed soil both nights on the island. Personal hygiene will be addressed at the pre-trip meeting to keep oneself healthy and clean in the wilderness.


Physical Challenge

Trip Members must be comfortable camping in a primitive environment and have a desire to challenge themselves both physically and mentally throughout the weekend. Trip members should be in good physical condition for hiking on very steep terrain and capable of carrying a backpack of approximately one third one’s body weight filled with your personal gear as well as group gear (covered at pre-trip meeting). From now until the trip begins, we highly encourage you to get in shape. Locally speaking, if you can comfortably hike up and down Cowles Mountain with a 25 pound pack twice in a matter of a few hours, consider yourself prepared for the hiking portion of this trip.

TRIP RATING 3 out of 3

This is a physically demanding trip covering rough terrain. On average you will be hiking 7 miles per day for 6 hours per day.  Pace of travel is moderate as you will be on a designated trail or dirt road. Plan on carrying your pack for two hours the first day; six hours the second day, and three hours the third.

Prerequisites

Each participant enrolled in an Aztec Backpacking Adventure must be able to carry a backpack weighing approximately 50 lbs or one third of your body weight.


No showers will be available. Pit toilets are available both nights with running water only available on night two.   The remainder of the trip is without restrooms, requiring everyone to practice the Leave No Trace Principle of Disposing of Waste Properly (see Leave No Trace Principles).  Light weight tents, warm synthetic sleeping bags, foam pads and ground tarps will be provided to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep. We will have a reserved camp ground on hard packed soil both nights on the island. Personal hygiene will be addressed at the pre-trip meeting to keep oneself healthy and clean in the wilderness.

Emergency Care

In the event of an accident, injury, illness or missing trip member, the leaders of your outing will attempt to provide first aid to the level of their training and arrange search and evacuation assistance when determined necessary. Our leaders may or may not be carrying communication devices and emergency help may be difficult to arrange. Costs of evacuation or search (helicopter, etc.) and of medical care beyond first aid that is provided by the leaders will be the financial responsibility of the ill or injured person. Emergency services in remote areas are costly. Short term medical and evacuation insurance is advised for those without a comprehensive policy. Please check with your doctor if you have any health problems that may interfere with participation.

Channel Islands National Park Backpacking

Trip Member Expectations:

Our hope is that each trip member will commit to making a positive contribution to our group of 10 to 12. We will travel as one group, and share the work as one collective group. The leaders will at times need to make decisions based on the needs of the group—not the special needs of one individual. This is a group experience and everyone is expected to help with all the camping tasks such as cooking meals, and clean up, setting up camp, and organizing gear. The Aztec Adventures Outdoor Program is all about promoting a healthy social environment where everyone feels comfortable and is included in the process of becoming a close-knit group. Unfortunately, if you are the independent type that prefers to do things alone, our trips may not be a good match for you.

Trip Member Responsibilities:

  • Please accurately and completely furnish all personal information requested on the Medical Disclosure Form.
  • Carefully review all information about the trip. Ask questions if you have specific needs or concerns.
  • Thoroughly understand the physical and mental demands of the outing as well as the risks. Acknowledge and accept those risks to be encountered.
  • Equip yourself in accordance with the packing list and recommendations of the Aztec Adventures staff.
  • Follow Leave No Trace practices and safety guidelines established by the trip leaders and land management agencies.
  • Respect the customs of locales to where we will travel and visit.
  • Always respect the rights and privacy of other trip members.

Since our outings travel in small groups, we have found that all it takes is one person disregarding policy to create a negative and/or dangerous experience for the whole group. Our leaders do not enjoy being disciplinarians, but will take action when someone is jeopardizing the safety of others and ultimately the future of our program. At the leader’s discretion, a trip member may be asked to leave the trip if it is felt that the person’s further participation (or lack of) may be detrimental to the outing or to others. In this case, the excluded person will be responsible for signing an additional liability waiver and covering all costs related to leaving the trip.


EAT GOOD FOOD - all successful expeditions throughout history have depended on good food and ample quantity. Great outdoor leaders take real pride in the meals they prepare and serve to trip members. It is widely agreed upon in our profession that food is one way extraordinary programs distinguish themselves from the ordinary. No matter the weather conditions or physical challenges of any given trip—every trip members’ attitude and enjoyment become more positive when served a delicious meal.

BE KIND - to the natural environment, to each other and the local populace or communities we visit. A commitment to teaching and embracing Leave No Trace principles and practices is vital to protecting our program areas. A perceptive outdoor leader is always kind and understanding, showing genuine concern for trip members’ wellbeing. Kind leaders greet people with a big smile; make a point of immediately learning names, and answer questions cheerfully and thoroughly. They are aware that the outing is the trip member’s big adventure and enters into their excitement—thereby renewing their own. Above all, the perceptive leader knows that sincere kindness is deeply reassuring to our trip members.

TELL THE TRUTH - about our personal limitations and abilities as well as in all of our "programmatic" endeavors. It is very important that leaders possess the integrity to acknowledge what they know and what they don’t know. Only when a leader is aware of their weaknesses can s/he work to improve. It is also vital to the future of our program to act and communicate with the utmost honesty with all of our partners whether they are public land managers, local businesses or our trip members. We strive hard to eliminate all hidden costs from our program fees and promote the facts behind our Aztec Recreation/A.S. budget subsidy.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE - in the lives of our trip members and staff through meaningful and complete outdoor experiences. Every person that makes a commitment to become involved with our program deserves the best effort we can put forth to make their time with us or trip a special experience. Leaders should always expect that the next trip they lead has the potential to make a positive change in their trip members’ lives. Our staff, in turn, should expect that their hard work and dedication will be acknowledged in ways that will continue long after they graduate or move-on from the program.

LEAVE NO TRACE – Aztec Adventure programming is committed to role modeling an environmental ethic and teaching our trip members to minimize their impact. We abide by LEAVE NO TRACE—Center for Outdoor Ethics and regulations of the places our programs visit.

LEAVE NO TRACE is a national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations. For an amazing amount of information visit the Leave No Trace website

Channel Islands National Park Backpacking

Our trip prices strive to be all inclusive. Round trip transportation, quality instruction and leadership, all meals, including snacks and desserts while in the field, and personal equipment outfitting are included in the cost of the trip. Of course we provide all safety and group gear, along with camping fees and permits. Aztec Adventures receives a small subsidy from Associated Students annually through student activity fees. The subsidy offsets a portion of our administrative costs. Please do not let the price be the deciding factor as our trips have amazing intrinsic value that will provide lasting memories.

In the event you must cancel from your trip the following fees apply:

  • 1-5 DAY TRIPS:
  • 21+ days prior to departure
    75% Refund
  • 15-20 days prior to departure
    50% Refund
  • 0-14 days prior to departure
    No Refund
  • 6-30 DAY TRIPS:
  • 60+ days prior to departure
    75% Refund
  • 30-59 days prior to departure
    50% Refund
  • 0-29 days prior to departure
    No Refund

Transferring from one trip to another is equal to a cancellation and must be done within the aforementioned deadline to avoid loss of fees.

Sometimes we must cancel a program due to low enrollment. In this situation we contact trip members a minimum of two weeks prior to the program and they are eligible for a full refund or credit voucher good for the remaining academic year.

In the event of cancellation due to unforeseeable circumstances (bad weather, natural disaster, or staff emergency), we will make every effort to reschedule the outing. Again, trip members are eligible for a full refund or credit voucher.