Lost Coast Trail – Day 6

Little Jackass Creek to Usal Beach Campground – 7.5 miles

Total Trip – 56.40 miles

The last 7 miles were treacherous!  So if you are planning on hiking north and starting from USAL Beach Campground, tune in.  Waking up on the beach, for the last time, was a little depressing, but happy at the same time.  I knew I would be camping on my way back to Phoenix, wherever I wanted, but I also knew this was the last day of our journey.  I was kind of in a rush, because I needed to use the privy, and got lost coming out of Little Jackass Creek for a good 30 minutes.  I found the privy and realized I had left my TP at the campsite.  I was covered in burrs and thorn scratches from going off the trail accidentally so I decided I could hike 7.5 miles in 2-3 hours and be fine.  The first half mile was all uphill in a jungle, it was beautiful and I got some amazing views.    DSCN1169 DSCN1170

So after that really steep uphill, it was a really steep downhill, coming down the other side.  The trail was pretty much straight bushwacking at this point.  There was no maintenance and the brush that grows there grows really fast and thorny.  I felt like I got lost 7-8 times in this day.  Luckily, on my descent I ran into 2 hikers heading north.  I thought they were crazy for hiking this path uphill, which was a weird thought as I was doing pretty much the same thing as they were.  This section didn’t feel like the Lost Coast Trail to me.  There were some good views, but altogether it was a hot mess.

I made it down to the next campsite, where I had another uphill awaiting me.  I rested at the river and pushed on.  The foliage was dense jungle, I had to keep my trekking poles in front of me so that my face would not get all scratched up, my arms and legs were both bleeding, and I smelled.  Sound like fun?  The trail ended up on this desert terrain that went up and around mountains, very rocky, and switch backed a couple times.  I thought I was going the wrong way again.  There was one section, in particular, where the trail turned and went back the direction I Was coming from, and decided to take me all the way back down to the beach, before turning around and going back up.  I was devastated for about 45 minutes until I found that I was indeed, on the trail again.  Hiking this alone was a mental challenge.  So FYI, most of the pretty stuff is NORTH of Little Jackass Creek.  There are a couple good views before, but not much.

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All of a sudden, I was done, and it was about 11 am.  My beautiful car was sitting right where I left it, with clean clothes in it, and PBR that magically stayed cold!  I drank a couple before Roc Doc and Goat meandered out of the woods.  I saved them each one beer.  We all chilled and decided to camp out near Leggett so we could get some beer and food.  We had a fire, got trail drunk, and had ourselves a nice little evening.

All around, I recommend hiking just the Northern section of the Lost Coast Trail if you are with a large group and don’t have a lot of time.  If you aren’t with the kids, and have some extra time, feel free to get lost on the Lost Coast Trail, and hike the whole thing.  It’s worth it!

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Lost Coast Trail – Day 5

Jones Beach Camp to Little Jackass Creek – 13 miles

Total trip thus far – 48.9 miles
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First of all, I had a rough night sleep.  It was amazing going to bed on the ocean again.  It was really really windy though.  There was also a constant fear of a bear attack.  I woke up around 1:30 in the morning to a terrified person screaming.  Then another scream very close by.  Holy shit!  All of a sudden my tent was literally being pressed sideways, things were very loud, and it looked like 2 hands or paws pressing my tent inwards.   I screamed out loud OH HOLY SHIT!  Then it stopped, my tent was put upright, and everyone was shouting to eachother – What happened?!  Well, it turns out it got so windy, that a gust of wind had blown kamikazes tent pole into his tent, and pushed his tent over so he was almost flipped over.  He thought it was a bear attack so he screamed.  His screaming had woken me up, and in the dreamy daze I was in, noticed my tent going nuts and thought we were all under attack by a pack of bears.  (I didn’t realize a pack of bears wasn’t a thing).  It was friggin wind.  WIND.  So we ragged on Kamikaze for the rest of the trip.  AHHHHHHH AAAAAHHHHHHH!

So I started my day very early, with not a lot of sleep.  I had chosen to walk out by myself again.  I loved the mornings, and being alone for a short period of time during my favorite time of day is like heaven.  Also, my hip was bothering me again (IT band I believe) and I needed a longer time to go the same distance.  The first mile, as you can see above, was beautiful shoreline and cliff walking, gentle slopes, no real hard work at all.  And beautiful, did I say that?

I came to a visitor center which had free toilet paper, and spent some quality time there.  Apparently I was supposed to check in and pay, but I thought my visit was pretty productive.  The trail turned into a dirty road for a couple miles, and then into a very iffy trail, with lots of ups and downs!  Elevation GAINS!

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The views were beautiful!  Awe inspiring.  The scenery looked fake.  Roc Doc and Goat had caught up to me at one of the campsites.  There was a swimming hole, and we decided to wait for the others.  This was the first campsite we were supposed to stay at, but it was like noon.  We were flying.  Roc Doc set up his tarp to protect us from the sun (we were in the sun every day all day, and our laundry was dirty and there was no gym).  We took a very productive and long nap.  An hour later, Gandalf shows up, says the rest of them are just behind him.  It was HOT out.  DSCN1158 DSCN1159

We took off after a couple hours, and climbed the 1200 ft mountain that was in between us and our next campsite on the beach.  Stupid mountain.  Maybe it was because it was 90 degrees out, or maybe it was the sun that was bearing down on us, but that last climb was the most treacherous.  Blackberry plants just ripping your shins apart.  Burrs everywhere.  I managed to somehow lose the trail and went down a wicked steep mountain, with Roc Doc and Goat behind me.  They found the trail for me later on.  Sketchy.

We finally made it to the next campsite – which was literally called little jackass creek.  But it looked like THIS.  DSCN1163

I mean, holy shit right?  This trail is legit.  The camping at little jackass is very peculiar.  there are only enough spots for 5-6 people.  We were 5-6 people, and a group ahead of us had set up camp at like noon because they were selfish and lazy.  The only place to camp was on the beach, right about at high tide line.  We talked amongst ourselves about where the high tide could come, as you could see debris from it, and where a potential high tide COULD go.  Also, high tide wasn’t until 2-3 am.  So we set up camp and went to bed with the fear of God in us.  I must have woken up like 6 times when I heard waves crashing and looked outside.  The water came up and over the sand a couple times, but never hit our tents.

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Also it got super windy again in the middle of the night and Gandalfs tent stakes flew out.  He was basically sleeping in the sand with a tarp over his face.  Haha.  Another good day on the Lost Coast!

Lost Coast Trail – Day 4

Shelter Cove to Jones Beach Camp – 7.5 miles

Total trip thus far – 35.9 miles

Part of why I loved this trip so much was because we were doing very short mileage days.  Anything less than 10 is a nero in my book.  We actually planned this trip as to NOT crush miles, like we accidentally did on the Appalachian Trail.  Crushing miles is mentally fun, physically exhausting, and all around a euphoric feeling.  The opposite of that, is quite relaxing and partially boring.

We spent too much time in Shelter Cove, I got very restless.  There was only so many beers I could drink, and it started getting hot.  We had arranged to hang out until 3 pm and have the shuttle take us to the trail head and do almost no miles.  But we decided to leave an hour earlier and do a couple extra miles.

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This side of the trail (southern section) was completely different!  Talk about going up and down repetitively.  Add into the equation we started around the hottest time of day (2pm), and the fact that half of us blacked out the night before (I didn’t, suckers), the trail hit us HARD.  This trail is like part jungle, part desert.  The ocean side of the mountains are just straight up desert, hot, thorny, burrs everywhere, blackberry plants just ripping your shins apart, and the interior aspect of the mountains were a jungle you could only dream of, unless you have visited the Redwoods.  I liked the interior, although the views of the beach were on the ocean side.

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There is the ocean! FogDSCN1129 DSCN1131

Giant Redwood TreesDSCN1132The interior sections were all jungle.  Everything green, ferns up to your chest.  Jurassic World! DSCN1133 DSCN1135Ocean Fog would follow us for the rest of the trail DSCN1137 DSCN1138

Eventually we made it 5 miles in to where the trail made sense again.  It flattened out, and gave us some amazing views of the ocean.  I loved my traverse through the jungle, and felt like I was suddenly in Bend, Oregon when we came to the top of the mountains.  Pine trees and dry dirt, if you know what I mean.

Some of the views were awesome.  When we finally got to Jones Beach campsite, we were so impressed.  This was one of the best campsites!  Privy and everything!  Picnic tables?  Don’t mind if I do.  The beach is a 20 ft wide rocky slope, so no reason to go down there.  But the grassy cliffs we slept on were the best.

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Once everything was set up, we watched yet another amazing sunset.  Seems to be the theme of this trip.  Every day waking up on the ocean, and every night watching the sun set over the ocean.  Amazing.  It was tranquil, got cold quickly, and I was in bed at 9:30 ish.  This was probably my best night of sleep.  I was close enough to the beach to hear the crashing of the waves lull me to sleep, yet far enough away to not worry about getting swept away during a random high tide.

We slept under giant beautiful eucalyptus trees.  Jones Beach Campsite is worth the trip.

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This photo is awesomeIMG_5641

Lost Coast Trail – Day 3

Buck Creek to Black Sands Beach (Shelter Cove) – 7.2 miles

Total trip – 28.4 miles

I could have hiked this entire section in one long and arduous day, but I’m glad I didn’t!  The views were too amazing.  This hike to shelter cove was easy.  I was up early admiring the ocean yet again.  This time I got a little antsy and left before everyone else.  I probably left around 8 am, and arrived at shelter cove around 11:30 am.  I really had to poop, so that propelled me into town.  Options for the ol #2 are going where the high tide will sweep it away, or up the creek which was probably everyones water source, and poison oak was everywhere.  I chose to make it to town.

The first thing I realized when I left camp was… I was completely isolated.  There was no one around.  We had been seeing people, a lot of people, over the last couple days.  This morning I felt completely alone, and I loved it.  DSCN1100 DSCN1101 DSCN1102 DSCN1103 DSCN1105

Water sources are a plenty on the Lost Coast Trail, as many streams flow down from the mountains, as the ocean fog will keep replenishing.  At times, this section of the trail was quite rocky.  At other times, you could walk barefoot.  Oh man, I love walking (sorry, “hiking”) barefoot on the beach.

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Barefoot prints

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Time to relax.  No rush, only 7 miles to town, and I am pretty much done by 11 am.

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Roc Doc caught me on the last mile, and we hiked together into Black Sands Beach parking lot with pizza on our mind.  We noticed Shelter Cove was 2 miles up “the hill” as the locals called it.  Screw that, it’s like a 3000 ft mountain.  We hitched a ride into town from one of the local caretakers of the recreation areas and had some lunch at the cash only (only place open) deli.

Everyone else rolled in around 2-3 pm and we paid for a stupid campsite next to the cash only (only place open) deli.  Beer in shelter cove costs $15 for a 6 pack.  This town is not very hiker friendly at all.  So we ignored the weird stares, put up with the grumpy old guy that owns the only wifi in town, and drank as much as we could.

All in all, a good day.

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Lost Coast Trail – Day 2

Spanish Flats Campsite  to Buck Creek – 12.8 miles

Total Trip thus far – 21.8 miles

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Wow.  Falling asleep on the beach is just like you imagined it would be like.  Or just like you have done before.  Just like that time you spent in Mexico with your windows wide open, listening to the waves crash, softer and softer until…

6:30 am, and here I am!  It wasn’t a dream!  I am hiking the lost coast trail with some of my best friends from the Appalachian Trail northbound group from 2014.  I woke up early from habit, or the fact that I am doing something awesome and don’t want to sleep through it.  We lounged for about 3 hours, breaking down camp, having breakfast, just being on the beach.  It wasn’t windy today, the sun rose, the air had a slight breeze, it was beautiful.  We hiked for about 3 hours on the beach, real easy hiking, until we hit Millers Flat.  We decided that since the next mile was impassible at high tide, which was in a couple hours, that we would take a lunch nap.

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Morning hike!

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Stopping for some much needed water

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From whence we cameDSCN1067

Stopping for some water

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Lunch nap

As you notice, I am in the shade.  There is really no escaping the sun on the first part of the Lost Coast Trail.  While that’s not a bad thing, I was getting pretty red, and needed a nap in the shade.  We hung out here for about 2-3 hours, swimming in the small pond, combing the beach.  It was chill.

When we moved on, we came upon a bunch of hikers that were waiting for the high tide to roll out.  The waves were just crushing the cliffs and we would not be able to walk for another hour.  So we hung out some more on the beach…

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Once the tide rolled out, we meandered on.  We left a little too early, and had to run between wave sets, sometimes having to climb up the cliff to get out of the way.  I could see how this could become hazardous (especially at night).

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Pretty soon I stumbled upon this group of birds, and the smell was.. well, ominous.  I feared something dead.

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Yarrr, t’was a beached whale!  We found out from talking to people later in shelter cove, that it had been a floater for a couple months and then had been beached on the Lost Coast.

We arrived at another one of the BEST CAMPSITES EVER, seriously.  Camping on the beach is awesome.  I set up my tent, took pictures of my tent set up to prove that I had indeed set up my tent, and then murdered my dinner.  The whale far from my mind, my mind soaking in the view.  We all hung out til around 9 (sun sets at 8:40pm up there) and it got a little chilly.  Another perfect sunset.  More beautiful stars to look up at.  Who’s idea was this?!  Mine.

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Watching the sunset with the gangDSCN1079

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Sunset!

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My favorite picture

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I eventually fell asleep just staring out at that sky, feeling so blessed to be able to do something this amazing.

Lost Coast Trail – Day 1

Matthole Beach to Spanish Flats Campsite – 8.4 miles

After a good night of having a couple drinks, reuniting with long lost trail friends, etc. we were a little achy.  We had arranged a shuttle to pick us up and drive us to the northern terminus of the Lost Coast Trail, as we had parked at the southern terminus, and would hike back.  The shuttle was Lost Coast Adventures.  The drive is 3 hours to matthole beach, there is no easy way to get back and forth, so we chose to shuttle.  For around $300 for the 6 of us, we had a solo hiker join us and hop on in.  The shuttle driver was awesome, drove us through the redwoods, told us the history of the land and eventually we arrived at Matthole beach.

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We were at Matthole beach around 1pm.  The wind was wicked, and it stung.  A lot.  Luckily I had bought some cheap sunglasses at a gas station just outside of SF.  I was fully lubed with SPF and had my stunner shades on, I was ready.  We ate lunch, however and hung out hiding from the vicious winds for an hour.  And then… we started.

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Sick.  Like, so sick.  Call out of work sick.  So beautiful, I don’t need to write words about it.  Just show some pictures.  This blog is easy.  In fact, this trail was easy.  Sand in your shoes and in your eyes and in just about everything you can imagine.  That is a good problem to have, in my point of view.  We breezed through the first section, against the stinging winds that hit us like an angry hail storm.  I took way too many pictures.  Eventually we hit Punta Gorda Lighthouse.  I thought I saw some dead sea lions, and then DSCN1035 DSCN1036 DSCN1041

They’re ALIVE!  We just stared at them and then had an epiphany…. Nap time!

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After this, the hiking was so easy we just breezed passed the first campsite, as we passed almost 20 hikers heading the same way.  Ever since the Appalachian Trail, crowded campsites give me the heebeejeebies.  No thanks!  So we left a message for our slower hikers that we crept on, and wrote them a big beautiful trail sign in the sand.  Because – we’re on the beach and we HAVE TO play in the sand.

We made it to Spanish Flats with enough time to set up camp, eat, and watch the ever so slooooowwww sun set.  This might have been the most beautiful place I have ever camped at.  Don’t believe me, just watch.

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Lost Coast Trail – Getting lost and getting there (Usal Beach Campground)

It is important to note that you will get lost, trying to find the Lost Coast Trail.  It is also important to note, that the 6 miles of dirt road will cause you to leave with a collapsed motor mount, and cracked suspension of your 2008 Nissan Altima.  DSCN1023

The drive from San Diego to Usal Beach Campground was awesome, and awful at the same time.  I was so hungover leaving San Francisco, but so distracted by the beauty of the 1 that I was just confused of what to feel.  I was so hungover, in fact, that I forgot to print the directions to get to Usal Beach campground.  This link should help you get there. I didn’t read the part about the dirt road at mile 90.88 on highway 1 after leaving Leggett.  I also didn’t realize I would have zero cell phone service at all.  Neither did I realize that there would be no signs pointing you in the right direction.  Not one.  I drove all the way to Westport Beach.  I was hungover, and confused.  I finally got 1 bar of reception around Westport Beach and quickly looked up how to get there.

Heading SOUTH on the 1 from Leggett, find mile marker 90.88, and turn right onto Usal road (unmarked).  Since I was now heading North from Westport to Leggett, I found the mile marker and turned left.  I made it to the road!

The road was my worst nightmare.  I bottomed out too many times to count.  A big ol truck would have been helpful.  My 4 door sedan was screaming at me.  I quote “Usal Road is a narrow, winding, sometimes steep dirt road that was at one time a part of the stage line between San Francisco and Eureka. During the rainy season this road is impassable for most vehicles and is not recommended for trailers or large RV’s anytime of the year.”

I finally made it down the 6 miles to the vague and unmarked campground to find a TON of people just absolutely raging down there.  Still no service.  I was meeting 6 people there, and was concerned that I might never find them.  I was in the twilight zone.  But it was beautiful!

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After driving around for 20 minutes, I found GOAT and Roc Doc awaiting me.  They had not brought beer (mistake) but I did (hero).  We started chugging and laughing about how terrible the road was to our cars, and if we would find Gandalf later on.  We made a sign out of a piece of notebook paper and a pen, which was illegible and unnoticable if you were in a moving car.

However they found us, we were all reunited, we drank, shared stories, and mentally prepared for the next week.  We were finally at Usal Beach Campground, and tomorrow – we would be starting our adventure on the famed Lost Coast Trail!IMG_5606 IMG_5608 IMG_5609

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