Catalina Island 2016

I got the chance to go to the beautiful Catalina Island, along with many other Wilderness Club members, and experienced things I never thought I’d get the chance to do.


Haylee Haupt

Pictured: Juniors Emily Bukoski and Roslynn Amparano

Haylee Haupt, Columnist

The Catalina Island trip is an annual event planned by Wilderness Club, where students and teachers get to spend three days (four days including travel) on the incredible island off the coast of California. This year, we went over fall break from October 13 to 16.

Day One:

We all had to meet at Horizon Honors by ten o’clock at night, but one student came late, so we didn’t end up leaving until eleven. The bus ride to Long Beach took six hours, and we had one pit stop at Love’s, where we could stretch and buy snacks. I enjoyed the ride, and the bus was comfortable (one charging port for each seat ).

Day Two:

When we got to Long Beach, we had breakfast at McDonald’s and waited to depart on the ferry. The boat ride took two hours, and we could either sit out on the deck or inside. I ended up napping the whole time. When we got off the ferry, we were greeted by all of the island’s counselors, as well as the other schools leaving the island. They handed us our lunches (sandwiches, chips, fruit punch, and Oreos), and then got time to choose our rooms. Some rooms had two beds, some had four, and one had six. Each building had one bathroom with multiple stalls, sinks, and showers. The island was in a major drought, so they challenged us to go the whole weekend without showering and to not flush the toilets as much as possible (which most of us accomplished). After we settled in, we were divided into four groups with one chaperon and one island counselor, which would be our group for the entire trip. We got a small tour of the island, had different activities where we learned about Catalina and biology, and got to touch sea urchins, sea hares, and sea cucumbers. We also viewed a king crab and some lobsters up close. When we walked out onto the dock, the water was crystal clear, and we saw a leopard shark swimming on the ocean floor. We then transitioned into free time, and went into the dining hall for dinner (spaghetti and meatballs, bread, and rice krispies). Food was served in a buffet style for every meal, and there were vegetarian and gluten free options. We cleaned up, then had a squid dissection. The counselors called up some volunteers and proceeded to put different parts of the squid on their faces, making mustaches, eye patches, and earrings (the volunteers, juniors Nicole Leake and Haley Greene, senior Trevor Tam, and freshman Kate Allen, were good sports about it). They asked for a new set of volunteers (senior Alex Weixler and juniors Nik Dave, Kenzie Knippers, Roslynn Ampie, Emily Bukowski) to perform a squid mating play, where the girls were the male squids and the boys were the female squids. Their performance filled the room with laughter. We then cleaned up the tables, and went to our rooms to get refresh ourselves. They opened up the island shop, where we could buy t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, water bottles, postcards, and chapstick. Each of us got $30 to use at the shop. I bought a grey and blue CIMI (Catalina Island Marine Institute) sweatshirt, which I wore around the island for most of the trip when I got cold. The shop closed, and we went into quiet hour to get ready for bed.

Day Three:

We woke up early on Saturday and went straight to the dining hall, where we had breakfast (scrambled eggs, sausages, potatoes, danish pastries, and cereal). After breakfast, we were sent to our rooms to get in our swimsuits for our first snorkel. We met at the dock on the beach and spent about half an hour going over how to put all of the pieces of the wetsuit on with our partner in our groups. I had some difficulties when it first began, because I’ve never been snorkeling before and felt constricted in the wetsuit and flippers. But as we swam more, I felt more comfortable and started focusing on the ocean below me instead of how I was breathing through the snorkel. My group saw many Garibaldi and other fish I didn’t recognize. I’m not sure how much time we spent out there because I lost track of time, but it felt like it was about an hour or two. They let us take off our wetsuits and swim around for awhile afterwards, and some of us decided to go play gaga ball, a popular game played on the island, where you hit or kick around a ball in a hexagon ring filled with sand with many other people, including chaperones, island counselors, and students from the other high school also on the island. The main objective is to get everyone else out by aiming the ball between the knees and ankles. Afterwards, we ate lunch (corn dogs, salad, fries, and cookies), and went into another freetime. During free time, we could either go snorkeling again, go rock climbing, or catch eels. I chose to go eel catching, and loved it so much. We had to tie a dead squid to a string, and stand in this shallow rocky area on the side of the beach. Our island counselor spend over an hour trying to catch this massive eel hidden in a little cave with some of the students and Mr. Huber. I watched them use half a bag of bait on this eel with no success. They did manage to get the eel out of the water a few times, which was really cool to see. We also picked up two octopuses and one baby octopus, which was the weirdest feeling ever. I went exploring a bit, and found some crab legs, a lobster shell, deer bones, and a pure white snake skull. This lasted a few hours, then we got cleaned up again, and ate dinner (chicken nuggets, salad, mashed potatoes, and biscuits). We got ready for the night snorkel afterwards, which didn’t take too long since we already knew what to do. They tied different colored glow sticks to our goggles so we could see each other while we swam with our partners, and gave us waterproof flashlights that we could tie around our wrists. The water was surprisingly less cold then it was in the previous snorkel, and I adjusted more quickly than before. My favorite part was when they told us to turn off our flashlights and move our hands around in the water. When we did, we saw small glowing spots all around us, which were bioluminescent plankton. Apparently my group swam over a shark as well, but I didn’t see it. When we got out, we dried off and got hot chocolate, then sat around a campfire until it was time for bed.

Day Four:

On the morning of our last day, there was an optional sunrise hike we could take if we woke up early enough. The hike took about thirty minutes, and when we got to the top of the mountain, we got a beautiful view of Toyon Bay and the ocean. When we got back down, we had breakfast (pancakes, eggs, and coffee cake), and had our final free time. I watched a game of gaga ball for a bit and then went through the maze – which if you want to know about, go on the trip! We went back to our rooms, packed everything up, cleaned our rooms, and lined up to go back on the ferry. On the boat, they gave us the same lunch we got on the second day when we arrived on the island, but I ordered some food from the boat’s restaurant. The crew members played The Good Dinosaur on the television, which I watched with some friends. On our drive home, we stopped at In-N-Out for dinner, and returned to the school at ten.

I would recommend this trip to every student. I had an amazing time, and going the weekend without my phone was actually very relaxing. So if you want to get away from your worries and have fun on an island, this trip is for you.

The Horizon Sun: What was your favorite part about the trip?

Jenna Clark, Junior: Hanging out with my friends and going through the maze.

Kelly Heiberger, Junior: My favorite part about the trip was the three snorkeling experiences that I went on, two of them were during the day and one was at night, and it was really cool to see all of the fish.

Tiana Oster, Senior: The snorkeling was really fun, and just being on the beach with a bunch of my friends.

Ethan Pace, Sophomore: My favorite part was the beach.

Hannah Rutledge, Junior: Being able to see other sides to people, because you only get to see one side of them at school, so it was really fun for me to get to know people.

The Horizon Sun: What was your least favorite part?

JC: I went last year, so I knew all of their [the island counselors] jokes and knew what to expect.

KH: I didn’t bring the correct shoes; I didn’t pack flip-flops so I had to borrow someone’s. I also didn’t really like the boat ride that much, it took awhile to get to the island.

TO: My least favorite part was the no showers and the beds.

EP: The beds.

HR: It was freezing, I was shivering so much. Also the lack of sleep.

The Horizon Sun: What was your favorite thing you saw in the ocean?

JC: I liked the little sea urchins that wrapped their needles around your finger.

KH: I liked the Garibaldi, and I liked that on one of the snorkeling experiences I got to swim up close to the seaweed and the ocean current brought me through this little canyon area.

TO: I saw a horned shark, and the eels and the octopus were really interesting.

EP: The bioluminescent plankton were cool.

HR: The reef was really cool to see.

The Horizon Sun: What tips do you have for anyone who wants to go on the trip in the future?

JC: Bring a fluffy blanket, it gets so cold.

KH: Bring the right clothes.

TO: Don’t pack shampoo and conditioner unless you plan on showering.

EP: Rinse your feet after gaga ball.

HR: Take a nap before you leave, and expect not to get a lot of sleep. Bring snacks, too.