Lost Coast, found treasure
waves crash, sea lions grunt, cobbles roll
forest, sand, surf meet
This time last week, I was hiking the
Lost Coast trail, a 24.6 mile stretch of seaside and beach trail in the King Range National Conservation Area, which is managed by the BLM Arcata Field Office. Whenever anyone would ask how it was, my synopsis was this: “It is unreal how beautiful the Lost Coast is.” Not the most elegant phrasing, but the honest truth. Enjoy the pictures my friends, and if you like to backpack, put this trail on your bucket list.
The hike begins from the Mattole Trailhead. We have our self-issue permit and bear canisters, and we are ready to go!
Our first major landmark was the Punta Gorda lighthouse, also known as the “Alcatraz of lighthouses,” which was in use until 1951.
The lighthouse was “open” to visitors, by which I mean, you could climb up to the top – and take panoramic photos.
Ladies of the lighthouse! Floppy hat catching some wind.
After exploring the lighthouse, we journeyed on to our fist campsite.
First night campsite on a small hill above a freshwater creek that flows into the ocean. We could see and hear sea lions on the offshore rocks below.
This cobblestone beach was where we started our second day of hiking, it was immediately below the cliff in the picture above. Hearing the waves crash upon the shore then toss and roll the cobblestones over each other is a sound I will not forget.
Group pic! Our campsite from the first night is in the background.
Back to the beach to continue the hike. It was neat to see the exposed folds in the rock along the shore.
Deceased sea creatures were inevitable while hiking on the beach; we saw chiton (left) and sea urchins (right), as well as crabs and shells of other things long gone.
Posed in front of one of the many freshwater streams that flow into the ocean.
Any good camping trip needs a good nap time. We found a giant piece of drift wood to rest our weary bodies upon.
Second night campsite, just a stone’s throw from the surf.
We had a visitor in the night – BEAR!
It was THIS close! (Yellow dot in upper left is my tent.) Good thing we followed the regulations and had our food and smelly things in our bear canisters.
On the third day, the trail called and we followed. This is a picture from the second (of two) high-tide impassable sections on the trail.
We saw (and smelled) a dead whale! Probably a young gray whale.
Kelp-ie stick photo!
Third night campsite, we crept closer to the ocean each night. I waited a little too long to take this picture, and thus you see the effect of the north coast fog.
On the third and final camping night, we played rock stack, which is exactly what it sounds like and more fun than you may be imagining. Look at our creation!
With my Bandito camp shoes on, I greeted the morning of our final day on the Lost Coast.
About a half mile from the finish, we received some trail magic – three beers to share among ourselves AND someone to take our picture. The home stretch!
We made it! Slightly cleaner and in high spirits, we prepared to depart the Black Sands Beach trailhead in Shelter Cove.
I am already dreaming of my next visit!