Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Lost Coast Trail

Morning on the Coast by Wayne-K
Morning on the Coast, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

Life's been a bit hectic lately and I have no idea where I'm going to find the time to work. We completed a two week holiday in Italy in June and I moved straightaway into a backpacking trip on the Lost Coast Trail during the Fourth of July weekend. More on Italy later...hopefully.

In 2010, the family spent the summer in Guam, leaving poor me at home....and free to go fishing, hiking, and....backpacking with the guys in the Trinity Alps during the Fourth of July weekend! We decided to continue the tradition this year and Patrick, Ruben, and I set off on the Lost Coast Trail, 30 June - 2 July 2011. We backpacked from the Mattole River trailhead, south along the California Coast for 26 miles, finishing at Shelter Cove.

We left Pleasanton on Thursday night after work. Ruben took care of the driving duties, while I sat comatose in the backseat, still suffering from jet lag. We spent the night in a motel about an hour out of Shelter Cove.

The next morning, we drove to Shelter Cove to meet up with our shuttle driver, Roxanne. It's a 1.75 hour drive along a windy road to get to the Mattole River trailhead, so we hired her to shuttle us to the start of our trek.

Roxanne was very nice, talkative, and just an interesting person. To keep this brief, I'll just mention everything they say about the "crop growers" in Humboldt County, CA is probably true. Her conversation made the trip seem a lot shorter than it was, which was good because I was comatose in the back seat but couldn't quite get to sleep.

Upon our arrival at the trailhead, we unloaded our packs from the car and wished Roxanne well. As I applied my sunscreen, Ruben pulled out his camera to snap a few which point I realized I left my camera and hiking sticks in Roxanne's car! Have you ever had one of those "ah shucks" moments? Okay, it was really an "ah shit" moment, but I was keeping it clean in case one of the three loyal blog readers happened to be a child, priest, or my mom. Anyway, there was no cell phone coverage along the Lost Camera Trail, so there was nothing to do but proceed down the beach for our first day of hiking.

The coastal views were beautiful, but hiking on sand really sucked. It's like snowshoeing, but not as fun. We traversed approximately six miles of sand on day one and camped along a creek. On day two, we extended our planned hike and hiked 12 miles, stopping at this wonderful campsite at Shipman Creek (see photo below). I snapped this photo with the camera on my Droid 2 Global phone. Who needs a DSLR anyway?

Shipman Creek I

Most of my backpacking experience is in the mountains, so it was interesting to do a trip on the coast. On some sections of the trip, the trail is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the right and steep, rocky cliffs on the left. Camping upstream along the creek, there were few places to do a number two (e.g., a pooper, a doo doo, a Mr. Hankey, well you get the picture). The ranger advised us to dig a hole in the sand below the high tide line when nature called. The idea is the tides would wash the excrement into the vast Pacific Ocean, feeding the Dungeness crabs (which the tourists in San Francisco would be enjoying later in the season).

Not many people can say they crapped on a beach....and I must say, it was one of the most scenic and serene BM moments of my life!

Below the High Tide Line

Okay, I know everyone is in suspense about my camera, so I'll wrap this up. At the end of the trail, we drove to the General Store and borrowed their good old fashioned land line telephone to call Roxanne. Fortunately, she was kind enough to return my gear. Thanks Roxanne!