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Lost Coast trip with Nora

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S: Lost Coast Trip - October 2008

FC: Lost Coast Trip October 12th-18th, 2008

1: Jill & Nora's Lost Coast Trip October 12th-18th, 2008

2: Sinkyone Wilderness State Park | Welcome to the Lost Coast! The 68,000-acre King Range National Conservation area extends along 35 miles of northern California coastline. Nearly 100 miles of trails span from the beach to the highest peaks and from old-growth forests to windswept prairies. Some routes are very steep and strenuous and hiking in soft sand can be difficult. | Almost ready to head out onto the trail!

3: Day 1 - Sunday Usal Beach trailhead to Little Jackass 7.5 miles | It's October - why is it so HOT?? | Day one of Nora's hair diary

4: Nora re-checks our route and Jill spots an awesome tree

5: Water Sources Bring plenty of water because sources are scarce on upland trails. Note spring locations on a map. During dry periods, springs may not be dependable. There are plenty of fresh water sources on the Lost Coast Trail, but all water should be treated in the backcountry. | Saw quite a few people, but all were headed in the opposite direction. Jill told Bible stories (since it was Sunday) while we walked.

6: As the day wore on, we wondered if the hills would ever end. Finally, we hit a flat spot, only to be attacked by slicing pompus grass! At last we headed down to our campsite.

7: Considered stopping for the day at Anderson Camp, but when we saw the beach we were glad we'd kept walking.

8: Day 2 - Monday Little Jackass to Wheeler 4.5 Miles | Morning on the Beach Tired and sore, we geared up for a new day of travel.

9: The climb out of Jackass creek onto Anderson cliffs was staggeringly steep. We climbed nearly straight up (not even switchbacks!) for at least a solid mile. Whew!

10: After the first push, the trail got easier and we were able to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. We didn't see a single person until we got to Wheeler camp, where there was one lone hiker staying at a site. | Viewing the ocean through the trees

11: The view of Wheeler from above was spectacular! We double-checked the map to see what was ahead. It looked promising. Plenty of time for taking some photographs.

12: Say Cheese! | Wheeler used to be a small logging town, but now the elk run the place, like this bull we met on the trail. | The night's campsite

13: Signs of human habitation are still plentiful in the area, like a crumbling chimney and hearth at one campsite. | The path into Wheeler | Nora finds the appropriate limb for our nightly bear bag adventure

15: Day 3 - Tuesday Wheeler to Bear Harbor 4.3 Miles | Felt less sore today! Still not too many people out, which is fine by us. A few challenging ups and downs, but by now we're pros. :) | Nora's hair just keeps getting better and better every day...

16: Silly Nora, leaves don't make a good hat! | ESSENTIAL SURVIVAL KNOWLEDGE: APPROPRIATE ATTIRE

17: Up until now, it had been too hot to feel like October, but the squirrels knew and the leaves were a dead giveaway.

18: Once we got into Bear Harbor, we had plenty of time to take care of business that we'd been postponing, like a little washing and bathing, blister care, and of course... napping! We also had time to explore nearby campsites like railroad creek and orchard creek, as well as the trailhead for the next day.

19: After business, beach time!

21: As with Wheeler, Bear Harbor was once a logging town. Remnants, like these train tracks (right) and non-native species (below), can still be seen all over the camping area.

23: We cooked quesadillas on the saddle of a ridge while we watched the sun set.

24: Day 4 -Wednesday Bear Harbor to Needle Rock Visitor Center, 3.1 Miles and Whale Gulch Waterfall 4.4 Miles (round trip)

25: "People pay good money to have hair like this!" | The trail out of Bear Harbor was actually a road, so it was fairly easy. Ours was the only car greeting us at the Needle Rock Visitor Center.

27: Even though we hadn't gone all that far, the terrain seemed different north of the visitor center. We re-rationed at the car and left a bunch of food behind. That much lighter, we set up camp at Streamside, then went for a walk to the waterfall we found on our topographical map.

28: We ran into two different herds of elk on our way out to the waterfall and back.

29: After a long night of wind rattling out tent fly, we drove from the Sinkyone State Park over Chemise Mountain Road, and down, down, down into the village of Shelter Cove. This was the trailhead for the Lost Coast at Black Sands Beach. | Day 5 - Thursday Black Sands Beach trailhead to Gitchell Creek 3.5 Miles

31: Hiking on the beach seems easier because it is flat, but the soft shifting, deep sand can be quite the workout! We found lots of interesting detrius like fuzzy seaweed (above).

32: The plan had been to go all eight miles to Big Flat, past the "impassable at high tide" section. But when we found the perfect spot at (what we think was) Gitchell Creek, we decided to save Big Flat for the next day's hike. The stream was so beautiful and SO cold! | Sitting by "our" creek, it almost felt like we were on a deserted island!

33: As the sun went down, we cooked a very delicious meal of couscous and salami. A few hikers and surfers passed us on their way home. We were only disturbed once, by the unexpected roar of dirt bikes going north while the tide was at it's lowest point. | "Cooking exhausts me..." | The beach at sunset

34: Day 6 - Friday Layover Day Gitchell Creek to Buck Creek area 3.4 Miles (round trip) | We slept with the rain fly open on the tent last night to try to keep the wind from being so noisy. It also let us see the stars where we lay. We woke up very refreshed and allowed ourselves to get ready slowly. It is a vacation, after all! | Nora's hair just keeps getting better!

35: On our way to Big Flat in the morning, Nora noticed a small whale in the surf! We followed it back and forth along the beach. Then we saw shark fins following it. It looked like they were attacking the baby whale! We watched until it swam too far away to see it any more. Good luck, whale! | Animal Adventures | We saw bear tracks many of the places we camped and hiked, but luckily no actual bears. We were very careful about keeping a clean (not smelly) camp by using bear canisters the whole time and cooking far away from our tent.

36: Even though our campsite was fairly protected, our day hike took us along some stretches of beach that were truly impassable at high tide. We tried running to dry spots between waves, but eventually turned back. Looks like Big Flat will have to be a destination for a future trip.

37: For our last dinner on the Lost Coast, we had mashed potatoes and mint chocolate pudding. Yum! | Watching our last sunset

38: Day 7 - Saturday Gitchell Creek to Black Sands Beach 3.5 Miles | From top: Garbage posing as art Toe-wiggling sand time Final awesome hair picture Driftwood on a misty beach

39: Total Estimated Mileage: 34.2 Miles We made it!

41: Epilogue When we got back to the Black Sands parking lot, we threw our smelly backpacks and selves into the car and headed for the fish and chips in "downtown" Shelter Cove. All week we had been talking about the foods we were craving. Yum! Then we headed south for home. We stopped at Frankie's for ice cream and pizza. A local favorite band was playing and we greeted friends. Then it was time for some badly needed (and well deserved) scrubbing and soaking in a private tub at the Sweetwater in Mendocino. Ahhhh... home!

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  • By: Jill S.
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  • Title: Lost Coast trip with Nora
  • Photos from Oct. 2008 backpacking trip
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  • Started: about 7 years ago
  • Updated: about 7 years ago