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Anacapa Island Trip Report and BTS

Welcome all! I will be posting various trip reports, blog posts, behind the scenes work, and other fun things every once in a while here on my website. I hope you enjoy! We begin with a trip out to Anacapa Island last weekend with friends to shoot for Revo Sunglasses. Of course none of these trips ever really begin at the location. Lots of preplanning and preproduction goes into making a production happen out on an island 11 miles off the coast of California with 7 people to coordinate; Not to mention an island that requires you pack everything in and out, water included! There is no fresh water out there, at least for us. You will see what I mean later...

 Waiting to load our boat in Oxnard, CA

Waiting to load our boat in Oxnard, CA

After some back and fourth between fellow Revo Ambassador Troy Kellenberger and I, who also happens to be my great friend, we decided that we would shoot on Anacapa while he was here visiting from Colorado. After many weeks of organizing with our friend group who would be joining us on the island, most of which are outdoor professionals, it was time to roll out. Thursday evening 9/14, we all double checked our gear, loaded up, and drove a few hours south to the California Coast in Ventura to crash for the night. Being a Thursday, we all thought we'd have the place to ourselves, however, literal MILES of RVs dictated to us otherwise. So we adapt, pull over and begin searching for BLM campsites and other camp spots. We were finally able to settle for a county camping area about 10 minutes north of our location at the time. A late night that was after we got all set up (or down) for the night. I decided to do the "sleep in the truck cab," and had an awful few hours of tossing and turning and, "I wish I could stretch my legs out-ness." My own fault...

Arriving to Anacapa Island

If there one thing I'm trained really well on, it's being able to operate at 110% after a night like that. The next morning, we all headed down to grab a few last minute items at Vons, then we headed for the harbor at which our chartered boat was to leave. We loaded up relatively quickly and got out on the water by 9:30a. The ride is about an hour from Oxnard, CA, across mostly smooth water. Usually there is plentiful ocean life, however we were only greeted with a California Oil Rig— amazing engineering-wise, a travesty environmentally. Arriving to the island is a bit mystical-feeling. It feels like you're arriving on something from Homer's The Oddesy. Blue water, kelp forests, tall sea cliffs, natural archways... etc. Anacapa Island is a complete cliff-surrounded island— the landing the boat dropped us off at required a lot of stair climbing to reach the trails on the top. The captain of our boat did a very precise backup maneuver to hold this boat against the landing as we and another team pulled our gear off and hauled it up the stairs to the top. Once unloaded we began carrying all of our gear the half mile or so to the campsites, making one brief, but false campsite arrival during that time.

 Traveling across the island, hauling lots of gear.

Traveling across the island, hauling lots of gear.

A view of the mission-style buildings.

A bit about the island; The layout of the island is actually very interesting. It sits a bit tilted on a slant and has very windy, hilly trails. In the center are a few California Mission-style buildings— one a ranger residence (which was uninhabited at our time of stay), a maintenance building, a visitor's center, and a church-like structure with a greenhouse attached. I was informed that the church-like structure was a response to 1940's & 1950's era issue where passing sailors would shoot at then-exposed open water tanks for target practice. You know what nobody has done since the building of a church-ish structure around them? Shoot at it. Genius! Now, remember how I said there was no fresh water for us? There is water in those tanks— but it's reserved for the rangers and the hydroponics at the green house for ecological repopulation, as it should be! It was quite the slog to the camp area with the 60lbs of gear or so we each had. We wasted no time, however, and we set up our site and immediate began to scout the island, taking in the views and selecting potential spots for photos later in the day when the light softens. Our first location was not too far up the hill by our site.

Cliffs trace the island..

Saturday morning sea kayaking in the Orus.

Following a simple trail takes you to the island-edge overlooking the long cliffs that trace the outside of the island. Magnificent. We explored, ate lunch, then made our way back down to the boat landing to do a bit of swimming, cliff jumping, and sea kayaking in the Oru Kayaks we brought. It was so incredibly beautiful! The water was so clear and refreshing. There was another group of professionals out of the island with us— a small group of three sea kayakers/spear fisherman/divers/etc. Through some back-and-forth friendly banter, we began to know each other as members of an "obvious army." Me, General Obvious, our sea kayaker friend Scott, Major Obvious, Kendall, from my group, was Captain Obvious, and everyone down the line were just the soldiers of this fictitious army. Why? Why not. ;) 

All those white dots— birds.

Throughout the island there were huge deposits of bird poop, seemingly everywhere. During the day, we saw very little avian life, so we were all a bit puzzled at where it was coming from. At around 5pm, we quickly learned where it all came from. Like a large cloud of contagion you would see in a sci-fi movie, huge swaths of birds came up from the sea and began to populate the island. The noise from then on and through the night was shockingly loud and every direction you looked were bird populations. It was fascinating! 

Sketchy scurvy-era rope.

We moved on from there to dinner time. Troy and I, through many past trip experiences, have figured a perfect adventure dinner which, I'm pretty sure, is scientifically proven to be the tastiest and most nutritious post-epic-day meal: refried bean and couscous burritos with salsa/hummus/avocado. Too much good wrapped in a little blanket of flavor. Good fuel out on missions is incredibly important to stay pumped and feeling well. Sunset time was poised to be our most ambitious shoot-time, so it was a quick cleanup and rollout. Troy and I discovered an access point to scramble across the ridge line at the tip of the habitable portion of Anacapa. This was going to provide us an amazing background to create photographs with— but by far a dangerous one. The slippery, rocky scramble is over complete choss– otherwise known as the crumbliest, most unstable rock out there. We slightly amended the danger of this by running back to the boat landing and grabbing whatever spare rope we could find. Being a group of climbers, the only rope available for use made us all cringe. It was an old, crusty, thick rope that look like it came off of a boat from the medieval era. Nevertheless, we were able to create a viable anchor and human backups to raise and lower Troy. Thankfully, he is a master of these tight situations and successfully executed his mission across and back without the need of this sea rope. See images below for the results. Very worth it.

 Looking back along the ridge line of Anacapa. What an amazing place..

Looking back along the ridge line of Anacapa. What an amazing place..

Our night only got better from there. After we popped off a few more images, the sky went dark. We made our way back to camp and played some games in the condo-tent our friend Michael brought. After a few rounds it was time to call it a night since we had an early start to the next morning. We began to be worried about Major Obvious and his crew since it was well past dark and they were not back from their island circumnavigation mission. After some deliberation about what to do, we heard their voices approaching. Phew. Off to bed everyone went. I immediately fell asleep since I had slept pretty poorly the last couple of nights. I am told that the others had quite the time getting there due to the sheer noise on the birds and the noise of our sea kayaker friends burning the midnight oil in the form of whiskey. 6:00am comes around and all but two get up to watch and photograph sunrise. Everything about this place was beautiful, but especially the sunset and the sunrise. They never get old.

 TK wear Ryker frames in White.

TK wear Ryker frames in White.

 TK wears Huddie frames in Navy/Yellow. My favorite frames.

TK wears Huddie frames in Navy/Yellow. My favorite frames.

Cliff jumps!

Back to camp we all went to cook up some breakfast— oatmeal with almonds, peanut butter, brown sugar, raisins, and almond milk. Yuuummmmm! Not long after we began cooking, Major Obvious comes by. "At ease, soldiers," he says as he offers an apology for the loudness of their group the night before. All was forgiven. We didn't have the time to stay extra days (TK had to head back to Colorado the next day) and our boat was on track to pick us up that day, Saturday the 16th and 12p. We packed down camp, said goodbye to our kayaker comrades, and redid the entire slog process of gear hauling back down to the landing. We got down by about 9a, when a boat was dropping the second half of Major Obvious' group. We helped unload, waiting for the boat to embark, then began again with a fair amount more kayaking, swimming, cliff jumping, and having solid times. We had one small scare— my buddy Michael's Oru rolled while kayaking out at rough seas. The only problem with kayaking is corrugated plastic origami foldout kayaks is that they are wobbly. Very wobbly. Getting back inside is really, really difficult, and they do not take on water well. One really large wave did it. Thankfully, even though I booked it out on the water with another group's tank-of-a-sea-kayak, a fishing boat was close by and assisted with bringing him and the kayak back to the landing. We were able to disassemble the Oru in the water and release all of the built up water to load it up the ladder. A few final jumps and laughs and our boat had arrived and did it's impressive backup maneuver again. It was sad to watch the island disappear behind us, but I am proud of the success and amazement of the trip nonetheless. These paragraphs can only give a small insight into the nature of our trip to Anacapa...

If you have read until this point, thank you! I will include a rally of snapshots below that I couldn't include above. Also, a huge thank you to everyone on the team, you all are amazing! Thanks also to Island Packers, Lens Rentals, the NPS, Major Obvious and crew, Alex & Brian for the Oru's, and last but definitely not least Revo Sunglasses. 

 

Cheers all,

MQ