lost coast (15)

Day Three on Lost Coast

At end of trip. Note driftwood trekking poles.

Set out at 8 AM after breakfast of granola with hot water and my last hard-boiled egg. Had to cross creek and I wasn’t about to try balancing on slippery log with heavy pack.

My technique: take off shoes, tie laces together, hang around neck, go barefoot across creek with my 2 bespoke driftwood hiking poles, v. carefully; slipping would be a disaster. Got across, dried feet, rebooted, was on my way.

Felt great — it was lucky that the fast-moving hiker the night before had told me how to get up on bluff trail; otherwise would not have seen it and struggled through beach boulders and deep sand.

Whoo! Walking on a trail was a cinch, and this one was lined with flowers. Fortified with almonds, chocolate, and 14-grams-of-protein Power Bar, numerous water stops, I made it through the 2nd high tide zone.

What I learned to do was rest before flat-lining. I stopped for 15 or so minutes, 4-5 times, resting near a creek and once, lying in the shade in a driftwood shack, to regain strength and then pushed on. I ended up walking for 8½ hours until pretty near exhausted, reached Shelter Cove around 5 PM.

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Lost Coast Backpack Trip Continued

There are 2 stretches of coast, each 3-4 miles long that are “inaccessible at high tide.” You are warned that you can die if get caught there. Well, uh, OK.

To begin with, it was harder going than I thought. My pack was really heavy. There was a rock slide upon entering the first part of the northern no-fly high tide zone that had to be clambered over. I hadn’t brought rain gear, either for me or the backpack, because the weather report had said no rain…well, 20% chance of rain the first day…and it started raining. Shit, if it poured I’d be screwed.

I found an opening in the rocks and prepared to duck under when the raindrops stopped. Yo!

Onward, or…upward. I had a moment climbing over the rock slide; I slipped, almost fell backward,and got a shot of adrenaline. I occurred to me if I fell and got hurt, I’d be screwed. No way to get word to the outside world. What had I got myself into? And yeah, grudgingly, being 80+ has taken its toll in strength and agility. In my mind I’m still 18, but that just ain’t the reality with an aging body. The kids that passed me that day seemed so strong and bouncy. God, I used to be like that.

I was a bit spooked, got to the end of the tidal zone and felt too tired to make it around the final point.

I found a ledge above the water, pitched my tent on the rocky ground, hoping I’d be above the high tide that night (I was), spent a restless night. Had to wait a few hours in the morning for the tide to drop so I could get around the point. 5½ hours hiking the 1st day.

After about 3 hours the 2nd day, I basically flat-lined. I was depressed, wiped out, thinking of all the things that could go wrong.

The wind was blowing, sun glaring, I felt almost dizzy, so stopped at Big Creek, a wide canyon with 15′-wide creek, pitched my tent, which took 45 minutes in howling wind, climbed inside and slept for an hour.

When I woke up, two women from Auburn, maybe in their 40s, had pitched their tents 100′ away and we visited. Renee told me she’d had 10 herniated discs, a back operation, and several pieces of titanium implanted and that it had taken her 10 years to recover, and one leg was shorter than the other. And here she was, on this incredibly tough hike. Shit, what kind of wimp was I? This was inspiration.

That night we sat around their campfire and her pal Pica pulled out a plastic lightweight ukulele and sang songs in a quiet sweet voice. Did I play the ukulele. Well, uh yeah-uh, songs from the ’20s, and  I played “Five Foot Two,” “Ain’t She Sweet,” and “Jada.” Fun.

I got several hours of good sleep that night, woke up. I’m gonna make it! I lightened my load by burying a pair of running shoes, some extra food, and a spiral notebook in the sand and set off feeling lighter and inspired the next morning.

It’s Saturday morning, I’m at Trinks in Gualala, with a double latte and piece of berry pie with whipped cream for pre-breakfast, now going to get bacon and eggs. I can’t get enpough food after the trip; listeninng to the Georgia Satellites sing “Keep Your Hands To Yourself: 

Rock and roll!

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The Lost Coast Beach Walk

Just back, now in Gualala. Exhausted. 25 miles of hiking in soft sand and boulder-hopping and high-tide dodging. It was the adventure of my life. On the second day, wasn’t sure I’d make it, but got a rest and pushed through for 8½ hours yesterday. Utterly wild, raw, tough terrain. If something goes wrong out there, there’s now way to get help. I’m so proud.

Had steak, 2 pints IPA at the just-opened brewery in Shelter Cove last night to celebrate, the Big Boy breakfast this morning in Trink’s, my body restocking on depleted reserves. Boy, is it great to be ravenous and burning up whatever food is consumed.

Shot pics of lots of beach shacks.

Sea lions were unexpected: maybe 75 of them snoozing on the sand near the abandoned Punta Gorda lighthouse, hardly mindful of humanoid in their midst.

Will write more soon…

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On the Road Again – The Lost Coast

Sign near Willits

Barn near Honeydew in back country

I took off at 8 AM Sunday, driving through Petaluma to get on Hwy 101.The Nicasio lake is full to the brim, the hills a verdant green — both from late rains.The fog of the beach gradually gave way to the sun of inland. Orange splashes of poppies amidst the green … Roadkill — during the day: 2 skunks (neither smelling), a fox, a racoon, 2 deer,  today 2 squirrels; must be spring fever … giant piles of redwood logs in Cloverdale lumberyard … Hwy 101 narrows down to 2 lanes north of Willits, it’s relaxed, v. little traffic, you can make a U-turn in middle of road … it clears the head to get out of the Bay Area where everything by comparison seems congested, every inch spoken for and/or ridiculously high priced … south fork of the Eel River is turquoise … getting into crackpot roadside territory with rock shops, bears-carved-out-of-chainsaws shops, kind of like the reptile farms that used to be along Hwy 66…

Ended up camping at the Mattole rivermouth, then drove through back roads today to Shelter Cove … tomorrow 8 AM I’m getting a ride back to Mattole, will then backpack along beach 30 miles back to Black Sands beach near Shelter Cove, hoping to find driftwood beach shacks to photograph … have decided to expand and reprint the driftwood shack book … just had great fish and chips down at Shelter Cove boat ramp…

First driftwood photo of trip, near Mattole river yesterday

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