After lots of planning and with plenty of excitement we finally set off on Monday October 6th, 2008. We had an uneventful flight from Lubbock to Oakland and then rented a red Mustang for trip north.
We drove as far as Ukia the first day, only stopping at an REI store in Berkeley to get fuel etc as we were obviously not allowed these items on the plane.
Our first challenge was when we reached our hotel in Ukia – the Super 8. I had prebooked this hotel with Expedia but when we got there our booking did not show up in Super 8’s system. The manager was the most helpful hotel manager I have ever come across and with his assistance we managed to cancel the Expedia booking and go direct with the hotel. I would certainly recommend this hotel if anyone is in the Ukia area.
We were lucky that there was a restaurant right across the car park from the hotel so we didn’t have to drive anywhere to find food.
After dinner we emptied out our suitcases (taken to avoid backpack damage during the flight) and packed in earnest for the hike.
The next morning we set off early and drove to Shelter Cove which is the southern terminus of the Lost Coast Trail’s northern section. We left our vehicle in the car park and took the shuttle up to Mattole Beach which is where our hike would begin.
Our shuttle host was Sherrie Luallin, and she was very informative on the hour and a half or so ride north. We talked so much that we hardly noticed that the time had passed, and in no time we were at the trailhead saying our goodbye’s.
After signing in at the trailhead, we began the 25 mile hike along the trail. Actually, calling it a trail is a misnomer because most of it is either walking along the beach or over extremely rocky areas.
Our destination was 3 miles away at the disused Punta Gorda Lighthouse. As it was getting late in the afternoon and the tide was coming in we wanted to get around Windy Point as fast as possible. Windy Point is the first (and shortest) of three areas that are impassable at high tide. The other two are over 4 miles long, hence the need for up to date tide charts.
Along the way we ran into a Sea Lion that was sunbathing on the beach. He made no attempt to move as we passed him and asked him to pose for our camera. This was the first of many Sea Lion sightings along the coast.
The weather had been very kind to us. It was mid 70’s and almost a perfect day so we got past Windy Point in plenty of time and we reached the Punta Gorda Lighthouse with lots of daylight left to explore the area and find a good camping spot.
It was here that we had our first – and most memorable encounter with other hikers. We met two guys and their dog that were the most unorganized and uniquely amusing hikers we have ever met!!
After the initial greetings, the funnier of the two who was wearing a bandana and had spikey hair sticking out of the top of it asked us if we were planning on hiking the whole 25 mile stretch. After we confirmed that we were, he asked us if they could make it to Shelter Cove and back to their car at Mattole Beach by Friday. (It was already Tuesday afternoon). When we mentioned the shuttle service he gave us blank stares that told us that they had done absolutely no research at all in preparation of this hike.
We got even blanker stares when we mentioned that there were areas of the trail that were impassable at high tide, and that they were 4+ miles long. Fortunately we had spare copies of the tidal charts so when we asked if they wanted one, Spikey, who we later christened Wailing Wilson, looked at us and asked “Are You Shittin’ Me? You mean we need a tide chart? But I can see the sea – look, it’s over there!!”
We gave them a tidal chart, wished them all the luck in the world (we thought that they would need it), and bade them farewell. We were destined to meet them again however.
We found a great spot for our first campsite right on the beach. There was a shelter built out of downed trees and we used that as a windbreak for our tents. We also stored our Bear Canisters in the shelter overnight.
During the night we had a visit from a black Bear. It sniffed around Cesar’s head while he slept in his tent (although it did wake him up), and then went in search of food. It obviously found our canisters because it made a good attempt to get into mine. The following morning I found it on it’s side and with deep scratch marks on the lid where it tried to gain access. It was scary, but it did not get any food so all was good.