The Lost Coast

So, last week and into the weekend, I completed the Lost Coast trail along with two of my very good friends.

That was really quite the adventure. I’ve been getting better at camping over the years but typically when we camp it is essentially car camping and it requires us to set up camp only once. A point to point hike replete with a 40 pound backpack is something else entirely.

Not even sure how to adequately recap an adventure such as this. We spent the first night camping out on a beach before taking a bus in the am to our starting point, Mattole Beach. The first day we hiked a little over nine miles, including one wrong turn. A vast majority of the Lost Coast trail goes along the beach which is both unusual in terms of terrain and difficult to navigate footing wise. In total, the trail is relatively flat — I think we hiked no more than 3,000 feet in total over the course of the 2.5 days, but tracking through the beach really more than made for the lack of vert. It was very slow going at times but a TON of fun, especially when high tide came in and we had to navigate water breaking along the shoreline. We had to use hiking poles the entire time, which was pretty much a first for me. I am not sure what we would have done without them. I don’t think there was ANY point where we didn’t use them.

The second day we hiked slightly over 12 miles. We started at 8 am and made camp at around 4 pm. This included about an hour break where we needed to wait for high tide to recede. You have to carry a tidal map on this hike and we were lucky enough in that the tides only stopped us this one time. We had heard stories about hikers getting stuck at multiple stops along the way and we were lucky this wasn’t the case with us. By the way, in terms of others hikers, we ran into only a handful each day. Not a lot of folks out there.

Gear wise, I think I packed well overall. A big wild card was the bear canister that we each had to carry. That damn thing was a nightmare. It was bulky and weighed upwards of ten pounds. Definitely a wild card to the trip. The only things I was missing that I’d add to a further trip was a tarp for my pack (it gets VERY wet overnight) and a pair of lightweight camp shoes. Even flip flops would have been fine. My trail running shoes more than did the trick, but they were generally wet at the end of each day and it would have been great to have a lightweight shoes when we needed to go to the stream(s) to reload on water, etc.

Beyond that, in the future I’d probably get my own steri pen and a few other sundry other items but beyond that felt like I was well prepared. One revelation for us was food. We decided to go somewhat light and brought in pre-packed “just add boiling water” dried food. I was initially skeptical but I have to say — each of our meals (bacon and eggs, spaghetti, beef stroganoff, pad thai and more) were delicious. That could have been due to the fact that we were REALLY hungry, but I actually think food technology has advanced to the point where this kind of stuff has actually gotten good. No doubt, that’s the way I would go in the future.

Finally the hike itself, in one word: unreal. Views for miles like I have never before seen.The best analogy I could come up with, is that it wa like hiking alongside the ocean in Big Sur. It had the same views and there wasn’t one moment in the almost three days of this trip that I wasn’t blown away by what I was seeing both in front and behind.

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One other thing we noticed the entire way is that the ocean is a violent place. Carcasses everywhere, including several seals, large fish and a whale. A whale!

Anyway, I loved it and would recommend the Lost Coast to anyone. It was also nice to quite literally get off the grid for a few days. I found out the world didn’t stop because I didn’t have cell connectivity. I am super glad I did it and I am looking forward to doing a similar type of hike on an annual basis moving forward. Lots of planet earth yet to see and this was most certainly a highlight.

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