Beautiful, Magnificent, Miserable. Hiking the 50 plus miles on the Lost Coast trail was physically one of the hardest things I have ever done. Soft sand and ankle busting rocks made up most of the terrain on this trail. You would think a trail with an elevation of 50 feet would be a breeze. It was not. But it was amazing with the view and the sea life. I am glad we did it.
We started at Mattole Beach in Humbolt County. It took us a few hours to get to the trail head down a windy and rough road. There is a campground, which we used the night before we started. We started at the north end and hiked towards Shelter Cove. Many people do this trail one way and take a shuttle. We decided to forgo the cost of a shuttle and hike out and back cause we are dumb, or have inflated sense of how good of shape we are in. After camping for the night we started in the morning and were immediately hiking through soft sand. This can't last right, oh no it does and then it turns into large rocks you have to slowly pick your way through. There was about 6 miles (one way) of solid surface to hike on....out of 25. So it was slow going.
Our first day we got about 10 miles done and stopped at Kinsey Creek for the night. We found an awesome spot on the beach and felt pretty smug and superior about our tent skills until a huge gust of wind thrashed our tent around and broke one of the poles. D and I just kind of stared at each other then stared at our collapsed tent and finally just kind of gathered everything up and moved behind some big driftwood and repaired our tent pole and reset up camp. Round one - Nature.
The next day I got up and hated everything and everyone. The wind howling all night meant I didn't sleep well so much for the soothing sounds of nature (have since gotten ear plugs = win). We hiked for what felt like forever and what ended up being about 12 miles and just when I was about to give up and walk into the ocean and let nature take me we found the most awesome spot to camp. You may have noticed things get a bit dramatic when I am tired.
The next morning we hiked the few miles into town and found a general store and realized we could have brought half the amount of food we did and stocked up in town for the return trip. Lesson learned: think through your whole trip. We found a pizza place, Delgada's, and stuffed our faces and wrapped the leftovers to take with us for dinner. Then we headed back into the sand to trudge the 25 miles to the car.
Amazing how much warm food..okay pizza...can perk you up. As we were hiking back out we saw people we had camped near the first night. They asked where we were going and they could not hide their horror when we said we were hiking back. We didn't mind because we were high on pizza and the false sense that we were total badasses. We camped at the awesome spot we found the night before. We had walked about 9 miles so we were beat.
The next morning we headed off a bit too early. Part of the trail is underwater surrounded by sheer cliffs during high tide and we got stuck waiting for the tide to go out enough to scurry around some rocks. We timed it pretty well and only got half soaked by a wave. The way back seemed to be going quicker until we pushed a little too much. We decided to get to Cooksie Creek to camp, fine in theory but ended up being a 15 mile day.
Too much. The last few miles we were dragging in an area where the tide cuts off the trail. Not a great feeling. Not like the tide suddenly comes in but it still made me nervous to be so tired and not at our camp area. We finally stumbled into the right area and found a spot and then found a natural pool in the river that ran by our campsite. I walked right in to cool off. Amazing.
The next morning we got up and power hiked the last few miles to the car. We felt amazing when we finished. I mean everything hurt, there was sand in everything and us and our gear smelled like death but we had survived. We also had hiked so hard and fast that not only did we catch people who had started before us we passed them by half a day. Maybe we are in better shape than we think or maybe we just suffer better. But since it is not a race we decided we need to work on pacing ourselves better and not push to the point of hating life. Learn something new every trip.