Summer Plans and Northern California
I’ve been hinting here and there about a few possible long-ish trips in my future. And by “hinting” I mean I’ve been thinking about where I can realistically go in between a big location move, without totally abandoning the idea of actually finding a place to live by the end of the summer (or maybe even before). Whereas my original plan was to finally hike the entire JMT this year (which clearly didn’t work out), my other backup plan was to instead do the High Sierra Trail, which is roughly 70 miles long, also ending at Mt. Whitney.
However, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to realize that perhaps this isn’t the right year for a long-ish Sierra hike. While anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE the Sierra, it was turning into a logistical nightmare. You may be tempted to ask, “But why? If you really want to hike in the Sierra, you should do it!” That’s a great mentality, one that I usually support. However, with our summer schedule, it’s too far out of the way to be a good option, BECAUSE we are spending almost a whole month living in Northern California, in my home town, where I will be de-stressing from LA traffic, hiking/running, going to farmers markets, and generally sleeping after my job ends in May. This is great! Really really great. Unfortunately however, this town is roughly 4 hours north of San Francisco, over at least an hour of small curvy roads, which lead you to the awesomely gorgeous (and oftentimes foggy) Mendocino coast. So, that’s pretty far from the Sierras, and I can’t say I feel like making the 7+ hour drive to get there, or somehow getting someone to drop us off in Sequoia National Park. It’s just not the year. However, it IS closer to the…
Lost Coast Trail! I’m finally doing it! Little backstory: I grew up playing at the beaches in Mackerricher State Park, with its (cold) gray waters and sweeping views of the lost coast towards the north. It wasn’t until I was much older, and addicted to hiking, that I realized there was a trail up there (heck, I didn’t realize there was anything after West Port). However, since learning about the lost coast, it’s been on my list of trails not to miss, and this is probably my best shot of finally doing it (since after all, I’ll be spending a month living roughly an hour from the southernmost trail head).
A little about the Lost Coast Trail:
-Its split into two sections: the north section is 24.4 miles long, traveling through the King Range National Conservation Area, from Mattole Beach to Black Sands Beach. The south is 28 miles, and runs from Sinkyone Wilderness State Park from Hidden Valley to Usal Creek.
-The north section of the trail seems to be mostly a beach walk, requiring you to time your travel with low tides (it’s very dangerous to try and cross some of these areas during high tide). The south section travels up higher ridges for the most part.
-While it initially seemed like a semi easy 52 miles walk along the beach, the few accounts that exist online note that it’s a deceptively strenuous hike, with a lot of elevation gain and loss, especially in the southern section
-It looks beautiful, and from my research, seems to take you through many different coastal environments, from beach to grassy bluffs to redwood forests.
-Its really remote! While highway 1 goes through places like Big Sur, it never made it through the King Range. Instead, it turns, going inland and bypassing this area. As a result, this is one of the most remote areas in the whole state.
Unlike what I’ve been used to seeing for the JMT, there are very few “guides” available online that cover the entire trail. I really like this aspect of planning, even if it’s slightly more complicated. Most of the information I’ve found on websites seems to only cover one section of the trail (mostly the northern), such as the guide written up on Appalachian trails or Jeff Hester’s write-up on Socal Hiker (note: Socal Hiker has the Lost Coast Trail as only 25 miles. This would only be the northern section. As noted, it continues south!). Years ago, I also found this write-up on Summit Post.
We will be doing the entire 52 miles in 8 or 9 days starting around June 23rd and possibly ending on July 1st, which adds up to only about 6 miles a day. Why take so long for something we could do in less time? Because we can. My brother will be joining us (yay!) and wants to spend some time fishing and wild forging for plants, and I’m in no hurry to get home. The only issue we will have is how to keep 8-9 days of food in bear canisters (which, BY THE WAY, are recommended, but maybe not required), but I think we can do it.
As I plan, I’ll continue to write posts about the process. Who knows, perhaps someday you’ll make the long trek up to Northern California and hike this amazing trail 🙂
(Until then, next big challenge, which is overwhelming complicated: How to get my car to the Southern trailhead, and start at the northern. without paying $400+ for a shuttle. Somehow. Sigh).