Conquered The Lost Coast Trail

The Lost Coast Trail in northern California is one of the few Coastal Wilderness treks in the US. The 25 mile north section from Mattole Beach to Shelter Cove is a challenge because of a couple 4+ mile low tide only passages. BryceGregTrailheadSo other then working out your logistics correctly it is a fairly straightforward backpacking trek. Of course in December of 2015 I did not get my logistics correct and mother nature hit me with an epic storm. I failed in my first attempt at the Lost Coast which is documented in my most read trip report “I lost to the Lost Coast Trail“. Retuning to conquer it allowed me to remember the pain and rejoice in the new success.

I really appreciated Bryce, an experienced wilderness survivalist, joining me for my return to the Lost Coast. With 2 cars you can pull off your own shuttle between Shelter Cove and Mattole, however, it is brutal. I think I would rather just do an out and back from Mattole and avoid the Shelter Cove roads. After way too much driving we did end up about a mile down the coast from Mattole and had an excellent first night on the Lost Coast.

The second day included a visit to Punta Gorda Light House which also is home to a rather large population of Elephant Seals.

Punta Gorda Light House around the Point

Punta Gorda Light House around the Point

Low tide was at 4 pm so we could take our time working through the 1st hazard zone for our second night at Spanish Flat. Punta Gorda was holding up well but the our treat was being able to pass by a couple hundred Elephant Seals. Calving season had just ended and a team of researchers from Humboldt State University were trying to gather data and tag the 102 new seal pups. I think we saw Elephant Seals for about 2 miles.

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This up close view of the elephant seals was awesome but now we needed to put in some miles to get through the first 4 mile hazard zone.

This was also when I started recalling my bad memories from my first attempt at the Lost Coast. But this time I did not have to jump in the ocean so the hike to Spanish Flat was quite enjoyable. Our only challenge for getting past the low tide zone was to wait for the tide to go out and then time the waves at a few of the points.

Once you are beyond the first hazard zone you are greeted with a nice long trail up on a grass shelf to get you to Spanish Flat.

Instead of having to stop and dry out I got to enjoy the beautiful scenery. We were able to camp at the same spot I had ridden out the first day of a storm back in 2015.

This day was all about being perfect. Fairly warm, plenty of dry firewood and the formation of an excellent sunset.

The sunset was awesome. The next morning was beautiful as I said my goodbyes to the Spanish Ridge that I had to climb over to seek shelter from the typhoon in 2015.

Spanish Ridge

Spanish Ridge

The remaining hike was new terrain for me. I took this ocean video before leaving.

Now on too Big Flat and the 2nd high tide hazard zone.

I think the temperature was 60 and we were hiking in shorts and it was February, this was as good as it gets.

Jane from the San Francisco area

Jane from the San Francisco area

About this time we met Jane who we ended up hiking with to our next campsite that night. We come into the Big Flat area and realize that a fair number of California Surfers had either hiked in or flown in via private planes to surf this area. Some had been there for many days. One dad said it was a constant task to feed his three teenage boys who were out surfing when we passed by. Check it out.

Soon after Big Flat through Miller Flat we entered into the 2nd hazard zone, but I did not feel that it was as difficult as the 1st.

Plus we didn’t actually make it all the way through as we decided to camp at Buck Creek which would require that we get an early start the next morning to finish the 2nd hazard area.

We had about 6 miles to hike out to Shelter Cove, but it did include some great scenery.

Black Sands Beach was very nice and empty on a Saturday morning.BlackSandsStream

We said goodbye to the Lost Coast Trail from the Black Sands Trailhead.

View North from Black Sands Trailhead

View North from Black Sands Trailhead

Then the grueling shuttle over to Mattole from Shelter Cove and then up and over the mountain to Ferndale.

Heading over the Mountain to Ferndale

Heading over the Mountain to Ferndale

We had brews and fish at the SeaQuake Brewery in Cresent City and then spent a night in Jedediah Smith State Park before driving home to Oregon.

 

About ghsmith76

Serious Backpacker, Grandfather, Volunteer, Advisor, Mentor and still Technologically Aware Greg retired as a technologist who served as a Chief Information Officer in Higher Education at Western Washington University, Missouri University of Science, Technology, George Fox University and the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI. Prior to the IT career in Academia, Greg was a Systems Consultant with Hewlett-Packard. Other early jobs included IT activity in the oil shale and coal mining industries along with owning a computer store in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Posted on February 24, 2020, in Adventure, Backpacking, Wilderness and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. It was great hiking with both of you! Getting across that creek would have been way more difficult for me without your poles.

    Like

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