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 – 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

Lost Coast Trail – Final Countdown

I leave for the trail tomorrow morning.  I have crossed every T and dotted every i, and by that, I mean I waited until the last minute, had a couple beers, and tried to stuff everything into a backpack.

I am using my ULA Circuit backpack that I used on my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail last year.  Yes, it has holes in it, and the frame is broken, but no big deal.  I figure, this is a 60 mile hike, what is the worst that can happen?  The plan is to drive to San Diego tomorrow morning, arriving as early as possible to allow myself amazing beach access, and day drinking.  I am staying the night at a friends house downtown at the Gaslamp district (uh oh).  The next morning I will be heading to San Fransisco where yet another friend has offered to host myself, for a little more drinking and sightseeing.  The next morning I head out at 9 am to Usal Beach, In the Sinkyone wilderness, which happens to be the southern terminus of the Lost Coast Trail.  I have never heard of this place, so I googled it, and this has some great information about the place I know nothing about.

Usal Beach

I will hopefully find this place, and I am meeting 4 other thru-hikers and some friends at the campground.  Gandalf, Kamikaze, GOAT, and Roc Doc are all partaking.  As well as Gandalfs friends Bob and Jeff.  Bob had made some appearances on my blog when I hiked the Appalachian Trail.  He had provided us with great trail magic, and the best trail ending party EVER.  So I am pretty excited to have them all come around.

By far the most informative information I found on the Lost Coast Trail was written by a previous Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker the Badger, who has an amazing blog about hiking etc.  Appalachian Trials Lost Coast Trail

One more addition to this hike that I had not encountered before was locating a bear canister.  A bear canister is necessary to hike the Lost Coast Trail, and without one you can get a huge fine.  I bought the bear vault from REI and it is BULKY.  So now I have an ultralight backpack (ULA) crammed together with my gear and a bear canister.  I do not have much room for fun in there!

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Looks cool huh?  Try putting it in your backpack.  I also went grocery shopping here in AZ because groceries in California are outrageous.  I am back on “the diet”.

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Now that IS fun!  A whole weeks worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner right there.

SO, once arriving at the campground, finding my long lost friends, and drinking, we will be shuttled the next morning to the trail 4 hours north, and hike back to our cars.  I am PRETTY sure we used this one.  http://www.lostcoastshuttle.com/

But Gandalf did all the leg work on this one, so I get to sit back and just pay it.  The shuttle will drop us off up North, ALSO resupply us when we get halfway done, and something about picking us up at the end.  This will all cost $500, which ends up being about $75 a person.  Doable.

I am VERY excited, and am excited to share this experience with you.

Lost Coast Trail – July 18 2015

The Lost Coast photoIt’s a new summer and time for a new adventure!  The plan is to hike the entire Lost Coast Trail in northern California.  This section includes both the beautiful Mendocino and Humboldt counties.  From my understanding, the Pacific Coast Highway (US 1) travels the entire length of the West Coast.  However, when developers encountered the King Range they decided the land far too unstable to develop a highway.  This resulted in 80 or so miles of untouched and almost inaccessible coastline in Northern California.  The nearest highway (101) is about 35 miles from the coast.  The result, one of the most remote wilderness areas in the state, and I am going to hike it!

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Hiking, relaxing, going to bed, and waking up on the beach every day for about a week!  I’m so excited.  If you guys have followed any blogs of 2014 Appalachian Thru Hikers, there are a couple coming with me.  Gandalf, Goat, Roc Doc, and Kamikaze are all fellow thru hikers last year, and are coming with me on this journey.

197867Once again, I invite you to join me on this adventure.  I will create a daily blog, and publish once I have service.  (There is almost no service in the area).  There will be TONS of pictures, and I will have one more blog up about preparation before I go.  Preparation includes getting a map of the area, bear canister, shuttle info, etc.  This will be helpful if any of you are planning a hike of the Lost Coast Trail in the future!

d34db711d2e8e65cd00533f9d6f47e36Departure date is set for July 18.  I will be driving to San Diego, and up the Cali Coast, hitting LA and SF on the way, and camping with Gandalf, Goat, Roc Doc, and Kamikaze on the 17th, the shuttle taking us to our remote location on the 18th.

Afterwards, the plan is to go up to the Del Norte Redwoods, and take our time driving the entire Pacific Coast Highway on the way back to San Diego.  I look forward to the trip, and sharing it with you!

Magic

-Stretch

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