The beginning of our Lost Coast Journey reminded me of a horror movie. No cell phone service. Sleepy coastal town. Dense fog. Solitude. Warnings of danger ahead.
As to be expected with any horror movie our shuttle never arrived to take us to the beginning of the north end of the trail. Being the persistent bunch that we are, we decided to pile six people ranging from 14 to 62 years old into an F150 extended cab pick-up. Not to mention we also had our two German Shepards plus luggage. The local General Store provided us with directions since we could not use our cell phones. Next, we headed down the windy, narrow, dirt road for 2 hours. Where were we??? The adventure began
Just to give you some background, my husband has been talking about backpacking The Lost Coast for years now. It is one area of the Northern California coastline that has been virtually untouched by human civilization. Due to difficult terrain and seismic activity, highways and roads have not been built in this area. The northern trail is about a 24 mile stretch along the coast. The terrain involves A LOT of sand and large rocks which can be difficult to maneuver with a 30-40 lb pack on your back. When we told our family about our upcoming trip many of them wanted to join in on the fun. That was how the clan of six was started (Eric, my brother, my dad, dad’s fiancé, fiancé’s daughter and of course, Yours Truly ). Did I mention none of us, except for Eric has done anything like this before?
So what was I most afraid of in this horror movie setting? Bears? Being attacked by a sleeper wave? Drowning at sea? Breaking an ankle? Nope. My biggest fear was going hungry. My husband and I began preparing our food weeks ahead of time. Thats right…weeks! I knew we could purchase “freeze dried” meals but they were expensive and had lots of unknown ingredients in them. So I decided we were going to make our own dehydrated food! (Ok- truth. I just love new cooking experiments). For inspiration I viewed the flavors of popular “freeze dried” meals and browsed backpackingchef.com. To make it easy on myself I mostly prepared pasta with meat sauce dishes and a quinoa black bean mixture. The goal was to have adequate protein and carbs with each meal to help fuel our journey. Here are some pictures of our dehydrated food. I used a cheap dehydrator but if you want a nice one I have heard good things about the Excalibur.
In addition, we packed dried oatmeal for breakfast, protein bars, nuts, dried fruit, jerky (homemade elk jerky from my friend was a hit), and peanut butter Nutella sandwiches. We had a lot of food and I think it is safe to say we did not go hungry My food alone weighed 10 lbs! Luckily we did not need to pack in water because there were plenty of fresh water streams along the trail.
The most scary moment of our trip involved an impassable area at high tide. Prior to starting our hike we were warned that we could not be on the beach at high tide or we would be swept away. Many areas had high cliffs lining the beach and once high tide rolled in there was no escape. The area we needed to pass was a little over 4 miles and involved sand and large black rocks. We were only averaging 1 mile/hr! We read the tide charts ahead of time to determine when we needed to begin our hike on the second day. For various reasons we were running a little bit behind schedule. High tide was scheduled to be at 6:11 pm and it was only 2:10 pm but it was apparent the tide was coming in faster than expected. We were not sure how much farther the stretch was before we reached high ground. We kept hoping that high ground was around the corner but it was not. Tensions were high and feet got wet but we made it out safe and sound. We later learned that you should not be on the beach once the tide reaches 3.5 ft and that was at 2:40 pm. We cut it close!
In life I have found the unknown to be scary and haunting at times. But many times my fears and worries are worse than the reality of the situation. Once the tensions of the high tides were behind us I began to embrace the majestic scenery around me and soak in the natural environment. Wow. It was truly beautiful.
Along our journey down the coast we saw a variety of wildlife including deer, fawns, seals, bear prints, crabs, starfish, vultures, and pelicans (my personal favorite ). We even saw two different whale carcasses (Grey and Humpback) washed up onto beach. The fragility of life was apparent. Burnt trees from a past a fire lined miles of the coastline, while other areas were lush green mountainous landscapes that kissed the shore. Every couple of miles or so there were fresh water streams meeting up with ocean that provided a nice area to rest.
The most special part about this trip was being able to spend it with my husband and family. The four day trek provided us with lots of stories to tell around the Thanksgiving dinner table for years to come. We worked together as a team and as my dad would say, “We got the job done.” My horror movie setting ended up turning into a family classic!. Maybe we can start thinking about the Pacific Coast Trail next????