Wednesday, June 12, 2002

OK ... so the other meaning to CLOGS besides Cathy's LOGS is that sometimes stuff gets CLOGed in my head and never gets logged. LOL! But here is a description of the Lost Coast backpack trip I just got back from with W. and K.

Lost Coast Backpack Trip report, June 7-11, 2002


I packed up the car and met W. and K. at the park-n-ride lot in Palo Alto. We caravaned to the Lost Coast together. We got stuck in rush hour traffic just after San Francisco. It took forever to get through Marin county and Santa Rosa. After that it was pretty much clear sailing though. We saw lots of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and determined that there was some event going on where Harley owners were driving down the California coast and stopping to camp every so often. We got to our campsite at about 10:30 p.m. It was a site about 4 miles in on a bumpy dirt road. We set up camp in the dark with a howling wind for company. We hit the sack quickly and had an OK night's sleep at camp.


We got up at 8 a.m. and packed up the cars and drove down to Black Sands beach. We left W. and K.'s car there and piled into my car. Then we drove to the Ranger station to get a fire permit to use the backpack stove on the trip. Then we were off to Mattole and the end of Lighthouse road. It was a long twisty drive on back country roads. We finally got to Mattole and the trailhead at 2 p.m. We were finally on the trailhead by around 2:30 p.m. It was very windy but we were hiking with the wind thank goodness! The sun was out bright though and the ocean was beautiful. We hiked mostly on sandy beaches but with some hiking up on bluffs over the beach. We saw a baby seal hanging out in a low tide pool. That was cool. We got to what we thought was our first camp, Cooksie Creek, at 5 p.m. We set up our tents on a semi-flat spot just up the hill from a creek where we got our water. As we settled in we got out our trail description and determined that we were actually a mile and a quarter short of Cooksie Creek. But we liked our campsite well enough and decided to just make Sunday a longer day. We also examined our tide table and determined that we needed to get up at 5 a.m. and be on the trail by 7 a.m. in order to hike the trail before it got covered by high tide the next day. K. cooked us a great tofu scramble for dinner that night. We were both very proud of the rock shelter we built for the stove to keep the wind away. We saw an awesome sun set that night over the Pacific ocean and then headed to bed.


I was up at 5 a.m. and at 5:30 a.m. roused W. and K. We had a cold breakfast and packed up camp. We got on the trail by 6:40 a.m. The hiking was mixed that day. Some was on the beach, some on a nice flat section of coast on a old jeep trail, and some over these nasty boulders on the beach. We made good time though and got past the sections of trail that we needed to during the low tides. This day seemed to be the day of seeing dead things on the beach. We saw a dead sting ray and even grosser a dead sea lion. Ick! We had a nice lunch stop about when we hit the nice flat jeep trail at 10:30 a.m. Getting up at 5:30 a.m. made us ready for lunch a bit early! The weather was very nice and not so windy yet. After lunch we continued on and saw two cabins that folks come to vacation in (not sure how they get supplies to them). We got to Big Creek at noonish and that was our destination for the day. We found a great campsite. Someone had built a drift wood shelter on the beach and had made a nice fire ring and found drift wood for benches. So we had a cushy site with nice soft sand to sleep on. We spent the rest of the day napping, soaking our feet in Big Creek, and reading. It was great. We had dinner at 6 p.m. K. cooked bean burritos for herself and W. I cooked my own dinner of raman noodles that night as I didn't care for beans. I also had some instant mashed potatoes. After dinner we checked out our trail guide again and found that we were in store for another early start. High tide was at 12:42 p.m. and to get past on our route we would have to get to the end of our day by 10:42 a.m. We skipped watching the sunset that night as the wind was just howling and almost blew you over if you came out from behind the drift wood shelter. We went to bed at dusk.


We got up at 5 a.m. and managed to pack up and be on the trail by 6:15 a.m. It was lots of beach walking this day. We kept what we came to call our "tide" pace. A bit faster hiking pace so we would get to the proper places in our route at low tide. We made good time and the weather was awesome: not too cold and not too hot. We saw many sea lions off shore. We also saw some other backpackers just getting up. We came to rather like hiking early in the morning before the afternoon wind kicked up and while the beach was cooler and in the shade. We reached our last camp, Buck Creek, at 9:30 a.m.! We had another long day of kicking back and relaxing ahead of us. There was another party of backpackers in the campsite that we coveted. They said they were leaving so we took off our packs and hung out on the beach waiting for them to depart so we could swoop in on the site. The didn't end up leaving till noon. We ate our lunch and played at building rock sculptures on the beach while we waited. After they left we were a little annoyed as they did not clean up the site. They left an empty bag of cookies and had tried to burn cans and plastic in the fire ring. We put the smelly fire out and shoved the cookie bag in our trash to be carried out. With that done the camp site was nicer. We set up our tents and then spent another lovely afternoon of napping and reading, and soaking sore feet in the creek. In the morning while we were waiting for the campsite we saw a river otter swim in from the ocean and go up Buck creek. That was a great sight. We were really jazzed by that. The afternoon was delightful. It was an extremely pretty camp site and the great wind had finally died down. I had a great nap in the soft sand on the beach with a warm sun beating down on me. I had a good read in my tent too which turned into a second nap! We had dinner and determined that finally we did not have to start hiking at 0 dark hundred the next day. We did however have to get up at 7ish in order to have time for the 5 mile hike, car shuttle, and driving back to the bay area the next day.


We were woken up at 6:30 a.m. but a very surprising sound of a motorcycle driving by camp. This must have been one amazingly skilled motor bike rider and also a rebel that didn't think that the rule of no motorized vehicles on the Lost Coast past Gitchell creek applied to him or her. He or she drove in on a very rough steep down hill trail that ends at Buck Creek. Then he/she zoomed up the beach going north where he/she wasn't supposed to be with a motorized vehicle. I got up shortly there after and went to the beach to confirm that I really had heard a motorcycle. I could see the tracks in the sand. I also confirmed with W. and K. that they heard it to and actually saw it from their tent window. What a bizzare thing to be waken up by on a backpack trip. We had a nice breakfast and headed off to Black Sands beach by 8:30 a.m. This day was all sandy beach walking. It was just beautiful hiking. We managed to get close enough to the ocean to hike on the harder packed sand. We ran into a woman on our way to Black Sands and had a nice conversation with her. She was there to do some mellow backpacking and to mostly hang out and write on the beach and enjoy some solitude. She was glad to see a group of women on the beach and we reassured her not to worry that much about the rattle snakes or bears. We hadn't seen any rattle snakes and only saw bear tracks. The bears never visited our sites. We also reassured her that we hadn't seen any unstable looking icky men on the trail either unless you counted the young dudes that trashed the campsite at Buck Creek but they were heading off into the hills that day not continuing on the beach trail. It was fun to chat with her. After that we soon reached the end of our trip at Black Sands beach. K. hiked up the short hill to get the car and bring it down to where would could load our backpacks into it and not have to carry them up the hill. We stripped off our filthy cloths and put on nice clean ones we had left in the car. Then we packed the car and started off on the long drive back to the start of our trip to fetch my car. We stopped a couple times at stores for munchies. I had a nice cold can of Mountain Dew at the first stop. That tasted so good! We finally reached my car at 3:30 p.m. Then we settled in for the long ride back to the bay area. We did have a nice stop in Willits to check out a restaurant called Organic Fast Food. W. is a vegan vegetarian and this store was made for her. She got a nice fake-steak burrito and a smoothie with some protein powder mixed in. We had stopped earlier at a Subway sandwich place but W. didn't find much that she could eat there. K. and I filled up at the Subway place. After that it was pretty much a dull drive back to the bay area. I got home at 11 p.m. Poor W. and K. had another 45 minutes to go to get to their house in Santa Cruz. I took a long hot shower and then collapsed in bed. Quite a fun but exhausting trip!!