Mike’s Story, Catalina Island Conservancy, Avalon, CA


Cape Canyon Reservoir“I always wanted to get into the interior of Catalina Island and selected a 6-day trip of physical labor, staying at a base camp overlooking the ocean. The conservancy had planned different work activities for us every day: trail building, working at the nursery, painting, and tree trimming. We worked three hours in the morning, had lunch and then worked until about three o’clock, had dinner and relaxed. I paid $180 to go somewhere I really wanted to be for a week in June, stay in a beautiful campsite, sweat and work really hard.”

“I loved it. Catalina has over 25 miles of trails and our job was cutting a new trail into the hillside with pick axes and shovels. What really concerned me is that some of the people on the trip weren’t physically able to do such difficult work in 105 degree weather.

“Two people suffered from heat stroke within the first few hours on our first day. It’s very important to understand physically what will be asked of you. Swinging a pick axe in 105 degree weather is
extremely difficult work. The interior of Catalina is a rather hostile desert environment with cactus, rattlesnakes, and lots of bugs.

“Fortunately our group leader was very flexible and well organized. People who could not handle the hard physical labor shifted to seed gathering and plant work. Half- and part-time workers are always needed and there’s something for everyone. I took time off from my job to go work on the nature trails because I knew it would be enriching and fulfilling. I plan to go again next year with my wife and a few of our friends who do not plan to join me in the hard, physical labor kind of work I love but are looking forward to the scavenger hunting aspect of beach clean-ups ending with a swim.”