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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
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March 27, 2009     The Catalina Islander
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March 27, 2009
 

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Friday, March 27, 2009 The CATAUNA ISLANDER Page 7 I II I [ BY GRAY ROBINSON When March comes, the only problem for Islanders and visi- tors alike is how best to enjoy the spring. The days are temperate, the crowds thin, and the island brimming with things to do. With such favorable conditions, spring is a great time for camping. According to personnelat the Two Harbors Visitor Center, traffic through Catalina's public campgrounds begins to pick up on the weekends in March. During the business week, however, the number of camp- ers remains low until the season commences over Memorial Day weekend. For tho e with a penchant for fair weather as well-as camping without summer crowds, March is the sweet spot of the camping season. With daily temperature highs in the 60s and 70s, the weather through March has been perfect for camping and the outdoor activ- ities that go with it. The days are cool enough to hike, bike or run comfortably, yet warm enough to lounge on the beaches or in the grass and enjoy the sun on your face. You won't find manypeople swimming without a wet suit, but those who enjoy the cooler waters of the Pacific will find no need for a wet suit during a short swim. The wild ranges of the Island, lush with spring growth,' are wait- ing to be explorea. Patches of wildflowers are blooming. Animal life is thriving. There is a host of tld ffli t0 Catalina, of which are out in plain view on the undeveloped sections of the island. While you are not likely to encounter many people along the hiking trails in March--if any at all--in some regions you will ah:nost certainly run across wild bison, which can become aggres- sive if provoked, and rattlesnakes (as the days grow warmer). Do not fear. Their presence is part of what makes Catalina so rugged and unadulterated. Be aware of the possibility of an encounter, keep a safe distance and you'll be fine. Another encounter campers might have is with a man called Popeye, who periodically visits the campgrounds to tend to the homemade bee traps hanging from the sunshades built on each camp- site. "Trying to catch the queen bee before she lays her eggs," he'll say and smile. The bees, and other insects, aren't a problem in March, par- ticularly around the campgrounds along the coast. Still, campers should keep their site free of uncovered food. It is a good idea to stow away and hang food in food bags to avoid a raid by the many wild ani- mals present at any given time. Campers get to know well the bone-chilling caw of the Raven and the heavy sound of its wings beating the air. These creatures prowl continuously for a free meal. Remember: once the food is gone, the store is a long way away. During the summer sea- son (mid-June through early September), there is a live-in rang- er at each campground. However, in the offseason a ranger only patrols the campgrounds daily and stops by each at least once a day. The absence of a live-in rang- er adds to the remote feel of the campgrounds in the spring, but campers should heed certain pre- cautions to avoid problems. Gathering and burning wood from the natural landscape is pro- hibited, so campers must bring firewood or arrange for it to be delivered to their campsite. Firewood can be preordered (for $8 per bundle) through the Two Harbors Visitor Center. Campsite reservations and fire- wood orders can also be made through the Pavilion Lodge in Avalon. However, Pavilion Lodge is responsible for relaying the infor- mation to the Two Harbors Visitor Center (which runs six of the seven public campgrounds on the Island) and sometimes miscom- munications happen. To avoid a cold, fireless night, there'are a few things you can do. First, make reservations through the Two Harbors Visitor Center. Second, place your order for fire- wood and request for delivery prior to the day you plan to begin camping, or as early in the day as possible. If you place your order at the Pavilion Lodge, do not leave until you are sure the person helping you has relayed your order by phone to the Two Harbors Visitor Center. It is also a good idea to obtain the number for the on-duty you into tile interior of the Island. In general, each camPground pl:ovides the following facilities: fresh (potable) water, showers, chemical toilets, lockers, bar- beque and fire pits, benches, pic- nic tables, and sunshades. Parsons Landing does not have a fresh water supply, so campers destined for this campground will need to bring their own water. One bundle of wood and 2.5 gallons of water are included in the stan- dard fee for one night's camping. Additional firewood and watercan be purchased and delivered to the campground if need be. Campers must bring their own tent, sleeping bag, charcoal, food, beverages, cooler, and ice. Any old tent with a sturdy rain fly to protect against the dew and the moisture blowing inland from the beaches will do. A three-season tent with good ventilation is ideal for spring con- ditions. A standard 40-dedgree sleeping bag is plenty warm for the cooler temperatures at night, which drop to around 50 degrees on average. A warm jacket or outer layer is also advisable this time of year. All of Catalina s camp, grounds, save Parsons Landing and Ben Weston Beach, are acces- sible via dirt roads, so campers can get to them by shuttle, taxi or personal vehicle. A shuttle runs by several of the campgrounds once daily in the offseason. All of the campgrounds are accessible via hiking trails. For those interested in hiking to their campsites without lugging gear, arrangements can be made with the park rangers to have fire- wood, water and gear delivered to the campsite. Camping on Catalina any time of year is surely a fine thing to do. Spring simply brings a particular set of perks, none more brilliant than the possibility of enjoying the natural treasures of the island in solitude. For more information about camping on Catalina Island, visit www.visistcatalinaisland.com or call the Two Harbors Visitor Center at (310) 510-4205. A tent cabin shown here at Two Harbor Campground over- looking the ocean. Life's expensive. That's why, if you make less than $42,000, it's smart to find out about the Earned Income Tax Credit. You could got up to $4,800 extra back from the IRS when you file your t es. So you could catch up on bills, build up your savings or just enjoy life a little more. Visit irs.gov/eitc, or call 1-800-829-1040 to see if you qualify. .... Ufe's a little easier with