Thanks to Mistal and Mike, and TJ’s magic, Phoenix kids are the only school group, ever, to get to go to the island’s back side. Into the SUVs we scramble, and up, up, around the winding switchbacks and over the top of the ridge we go. As we descend to the other side we see the wide Pacific breaking on the beach below.

Billowy clouds roll in over the water sending blankets of fluffy clouds sneaking around the mountains enveloping them in white. Phoenix kids hike up the steep, rocky trail ascending through the clouds until we look down on the wooly coverlet below, hiding the pounding waves from view. Higher we climb until we reach the ridgeline and the official Trans-Catalina Trail that takes us along the top of Catalina Island.

Mason’s words takes us along the Trans-Catalina trail over the backbone of Catalina’s rugged and steep mountains.
Scorching hot sun beats down on me from behind. Navigating my way through pure pain-inducing cacti and climbing the steep mountain trails make my legs ache and turns my mouth as dry as the sun-baked dirt under my feet. As we climb up to even ground we find a ripe, red prickly pear. The fruit splits under the force of a sharp rock striking it. My mouth begins to water. The sweet juice and moist seeds of the prickly pear linger in my mouth. What a delicious adventure.

Some of us leave the group to hike even further along Catalina’s ridgeline and find sweet prickly pear juice to refresh our parched throats. Others return to the sea to search for kelp as we snorkel along Whale Tail, an outcrop named for its shape between Shark Harbor and Little Harbor. We are lucky to find kelp as well as Garibaldi, an octopus and a sea lion in the murky waters. A few stay behind to enjoy watercoloring a journal spread page under the warm sun and reflect on our wonderful day on the “back side.”

Under the light of a waning moon, we gather around the crackling campfire, soaking up its warmth, appreciating everything that we have done this week. We read our favorite writing and share high points of our stay at CIMI, with TJ and each other. We have all had the same experiences but we have such varied high points. We listen intently to TJ’s ghost story, and wonder if we will meet the two red-headed children that are said to roam the camp as ghosts. We enjoy the camaraderie of being together on our last night. TJ breaks out marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers….we break out in smiles all around. Too soon our fire is doused and we walk quietly through the dark to our dorms. The moon will set and tomorrow’s early sun will rise over the ocean.

Night into Day
Shimmering dots of blazing plasma
Melt my face,
Pulling me to the stars,
But I continue to look.
A murderer runs through the sky
Killing our Blue Moon
And dashing off.
Blood Moon bleeds all night.
Sun creeps up,
Doing the Moonwalk