The Lost Coast Trail

The high tides of the morning brought with it a misty air surrounding the camp, our tent covered in dew. I woke up a couple times between 2 AM and 4 AM, eyes quite closed but smiles quite wide, only to comfortably fall back asleep to the violence of the waves crashing again and again against our beachhead. We slept at the mouth of the clear running stream next to our tents meet the Pacific. The gentility of its waters contradicted the awesome strength of the ocean. It almost sounded like rain when the two conspired to create its music. It’s grey outside; and only 7:24 AM.

Taylor is still very much asleep, his eyes opening every once in a while. I worry a bit that I may have over exerted him. He’ll be ten soon. I hate to even think those thoughts, believe in that thinking them will cause the inevitable to happen sooner than later. I shake myself from those thoughts borne of Schrondinger’s cat.

It’s simply beautiful outside, the wilderness in all its splendor. It’s bear country. And they present very real dangers. Two different sets of hikers had mentioned yesterday they had come upon a mama bear and her cubs. No one, and I mean no one, should ever mess with or stand between a mama bear and her cubs, unless of course you have a death warrant.

Yesterday’s 5.2 mile hike took us four hours. We had a late start from Waikili Campgrounds, trying to figure stuff out, get our supplies from the General Store, eat at Fish Tank Inn, before we parked at the entrance to the Black Sand Beach Trail. From there, keeping a steady pace along the oceanfront, we only took two major 15 minute breaks. The rest of the way, our hike entailed heavy black sand, rocks and pebbles, each distinctly more different than the other to varying degrees of ease and difficulty. Because it was for the most part flat, I knew that Taylor and I could do it, our hip flexors not too terribly taxed, save for soreness we would encounter once we would turn in for the night.

At a couple spots, Taylor and I got drenched from the ocean tides, as we navigated through a narrow stretch on rocks literally next to the crashing waves. If we had left even a few minutes later, the passes would have been impassable. With plenty of encouragement, Taylor was an absolute rockstar. I beamed with pride and joy watching him walk alongside us. And as tired as he no doubt was, I could tell he was having the time of his life.

We decided to camp at Buck Creek, a serene inlet just feet from the ocean, next to the stream. Kristen and I pitched our tents. Chris foraged the area for wood to build a fire. Taylor drank water at the stream and generally helped out where he could. Eating jerky, smoked tuna and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, we listened to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, The Steve Miller Band and their greatest hits. We emptied our remaining food and anything of fragrance into the bear canister. And I hauled it several yards away on the other side of the stream. By 9:00 PM, I was beat. And soon Taylor and I were snoring to the accompaniment of the crashing waves and running creek. Petty would have been proud. Music to our ears.

It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was drivin’
Trees flew by, me and Del were singin’ little Runaway
I was flyin’

Yeah runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream

I felt so good like anything was possible
I hit cruise control and rubbed my eyes
The last three days the rain was unstoppable
It was always cold, no sunshine

— “Running Down a Dream” Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

The Lost Coast Trail is a 23 (depending upon what you decide to hike, a 28, 35, 53, or 80) mile stretch of magnificent wilderness that was once the site of the potential stretch for the California Highway 1. Impassable and impossible to pave road upon it, the workers decided to move the highway inland, leaving behind this lost stretch hugging the Pacific Ocean, that’s the dream of backpackers all around the world.

Between yesterday and today, Taylor will only see a small 14-mile stretch of it.
I’ll be back someday for more.

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