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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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 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

Road Trip Part 3 – Olympia Washington – Pacific Coast Highway to San Diego

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