Tuesday, June 03, 2003

My Lost Coast backpack trip was awesome. We had great weather, great wild flowers, great conversations, and interesting things to look at.

We had a nice lunch at the Mateel Cafe before we started our trip. After lunch we drove to Shelter Cove to the Black Sands beach parking lot and the start of the Lost Coast trail. The sun was shining and we were all in good spirits. That day's hike was over mostly sand. It was tough hiking through sand with a heavy backpack. We also had to do a couple of challenging stream crossings that challenged our rock hopping skill or challenged the water proofness of our boots! We saw a beached boat on the way to our first campsite. A woman informed us that her boy friend had to beach it due to bad weather and she was there to keep an eye on it. They hoped at high tide to get it off the beach. It was pretty darn full of sand though so it looked like it wouldn't budge even with high tide. After leaving the boat we saw a sad site. A little baby sea lion was sitting on a rock looking sick. It did not move when we edged forward to look at it. There wasn't much we could do so we just continued on. We arrived at Buck Creek at 6:30 p.m. and decided to camp there rather than try to get to Shipman Creek as planned. The tide was getting high and the next section of trail was impassable at high tide. Also we were all pretty tired. We had to share the site with four teenagers who decided to skip their prom and camp out at Lost Coast instead. We all thought that was way cool! We got camp set up and dinners cooked before dark. While we were cooking we were visited by a couple of deers. They were about 30 yards away from us. They were getting their dinner too! We all headed to our separate tents as it got dark. I slept like a rock that night.

Day two we got up around 7 a.m. We ate breakfast and broke camp and were on our way by 9 a.m. J. and I (co-leaders) were a bit concerned that we hadn't left early enough to hike on the trail as the tide was rising. It turned out we were fine but we did have a few cases where we had to scurry around a big rock as the waves receded. The rising tide did give us incentive to set a fast pace. At around 10:30 a.m. we reached the part of the beach where the trail climbed up a hill to weave along a bluff looking over the beach -- no more tide worries! It was also nice to be hiking on solid ground for a while. We did have to start watching for poison oak at this point. It had smaller leaves than I'm used to and blended in with other plants rather well. You had to keep a sharp eye out to stay out of it. So far it looks like I avoided getting it. P. did end up with some poison oak (on her ankles and, shudder, on her left eyelid). We reached Big Flat at noon and J. suggested that we camp at Big Flat rather than Big Creek (another 3 miles north up the beach). This was so we wouldn't have to get up super early to beat the tide the next day. We set up our tents. Mine was quite exposed but on nice soft sand. I was careful to put rocks inside my tent and to put heavy rocks over the tent stakes also. This worked out great and my tent stayed in place even when the late afternoon winds blew up. After we set up camp and had some lunch we day hiked to Big Creek. It was a pleasure to get rid of the packs. Big Creek was beautiful. I was curious to see if the camp site I camped in with W. and K. last summer. I was amazed to discover that the site had been totally filled with big bits of drift wood and essentially no longer existed. I took a picture of it so I can compare it to last year's picture of the camp. We had a nice rest break at Big Creek. J. went off to explore Big Creek while the rest of us headed back to camp. We reached camp around 5 p.m. and started our dinners. It was a bit tricky getting the stoves to light because of the wind. I finally gave up on my blue tip matches and used one of my wind proof matches to get my stove lit. Everyone else got their stoves lit one way or another. While P. and I were starting to cook we saw C.P.'s tent be picked up and flipped over by the wind. We ran over to it to make sure it didn't blow away. C.P. saw the ruckus and ran over to restake the tent and put rocks inside of it. Then a half hour later, C.S.'s tent blew over. She decided to just put the tent away and sleep out in the open. After the excitement of the tents we settled down to enjoy dinner and good conversation. I got in my tent at 8 p.m. as I was getting chilly. I got in my warm sleeping bag and pulled out my book "Daughters of the Amber Noon" by Katherine Forest. I had a wonderful half hour of reading. Then I looked up and saw the sun setting. It was a great sun set. The sun was a big red ball in the sky and sunk down below the ocean. It was awesome.

Day three we got up around 7 a.m. again. This time we were ready by 8:30ish. Worries about the tide made us keep a fast pace again. We were now retracing our steps from the day before. We reached our last campsite, Shipman Creek, at 10 a.m. We got the site to ourselves. That was cool. We took the site with the driftwood shelter. We made it our commisary. It also turned out to be a great place to hang out in and read or talk as it created a nice bit of shade and Sunday was a hot day on the Lost Coast. We set up camp real slow and then ate lunch. Everyone but me then went to explore upstream on Shipman Creek. I was feeling tired from still fighting off my cold. I took a nice nap while they explored. They returned by 3:30 p.m. Then we had a very mellow late afternoon of conversations, reading, meditating (just C.P.), and ambling down the beach to look at the sea lions on Sea Lion rock. We all cooked dinner together around 6 p.m. Then more relaxing into the evening. We didn't get an awesome sunset this time as we were in a canyon and the sun popped under the canyon wall before we knew it. I think J. might have hiked down the beach a bit to see if he could see the sun set over the ocean. The chill in the air after the sun set again seemed to drive us to our warm sleeping bags. I had another wonderful night's sleep. I loved hearing the waves crash all night and looking at the stars when I stirred a few times during the night.

Day four was our hike back to the cars. We were all up by 6:30 a.m. and we headed south towards Black Sands Beach by 8:30 a.m. We had a very pleasant walk on the wet sand as the tide was low and there was lots of firmer wet sand to hike on. We passed by the sick sea lion cub again and were saddened that it hadn't moved since we last saw it. We also passed by the beached boat again. It was even fuller of sand and no one was around watching it. It looked like the couple gave up on trying to extract it at high tide. The stream crossings on the last day were easier because of low tide giving us a shorter crossing option and not a lot of rock hopping. We got to Black Sands beach at Shelter Cove at noon. We hiked up to the trail head parking lot and happily used the restrooms there and changed into clean cloths we had left in the cars. Then we finished off our trip by having lunch at the Mateel Cafe again. The hamburger I had tasted so good after three days of backpack food! It was a great trip.

Check out pictures from the trip at my webshots page in the lostcost2003 album.

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