Why is it that whenever people have the urge to carve a log, they insist on carving it into a bear? I saw a bear once. It didn't look like a log. Poor little Boo-Boo on the left there...
(I thought about making a Goldilocks-style joke about these three bears, but you'll just have to figure that one out for yourself.)
We stopped at a campground in Leggett the first night in hopes of getting an early start in the morning. They also had cabins with a Led Zeppelin naming scheme.
A rare self-portrait of the trip documentarian. (This portal provided passage into the Shelter Cove lighthouse, precariously perched above the perilous precipices of the Pacific punta.)
Risking certain death, our heroes descend the abovementioned perilous precipices to the beach below (via a convenient staircase hewn into the cliff).
Once on the beach, comfortable seating was available, but not to be found in abundance.
A hero in war, a hero in peace. Mario Machi (1914-1998), patron saint and celebrated veteran of Shelter Cove. (The plaque didn't mention anything about his distinguished career as a plumber...)
One of numerous departures from the bustling airstrip nearby.
Looking south over Shelter Cove as they waited for Roxanne the shuttle driver, Sarah and Andre acclimatized to the cliffs and sand of the Lost Coast.
This place had everything! Even a weird almost-in-the-water pipe. (Andre noted a potentially longboardable spot.)
Sarah, taunting the trailhead poison oak.
This poor old fella looked like he was on his last
legs flippers. Our passage was unhindered (winked at even!).
There was an ominous wall of fog offshore. Roxanne, the $200 shuttle driver, warned us that it might hit land, but I guess we got lucky.
Well above the high-tide line, a confused (and probably parched) sea urchin.
Like a pusher offering the first hit for free, these comfy beachside trails suckered us in to an otherwise sandy slog.
One of several pioneer-style cabins dotting the Lost Coast. (And other hikers! Other hikers? On the Lost Coast?)
This, fortunately but retroactively disappointingly, is not a rattlesnake.
It's official! (Fortunately, in a last minute decision, we opted to leave the hang-gliders at home.)
The trail split and we had the option of staying on the beach. But I can't imagine how anyone could possibly resist an abandoned lighthouse!
The view from the lighthouse boiler room. (According to some graffiti, Jordon had already been there.)
The grizzled old lighthouse keeper.
A Hopper-esque view from the Punta Gorda lighthouse looking north.
The aptly named Sea Lion Rocks. Although... there were definitely a few cormorants and pelicans up there too. (Personally, I'd've called them the Sea Lion And Cormorant And Pelican Rocks.)
There wasn't any way of telling for sure, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find out that those shifty sea lions had something to do with the scattered shipwreck debris nearby.
I asked Sarah to look exhausted for a photo (which she already did), but it only made her smile.
Visible behind Sarah is the distinct lack of trail that characterizes much of the Lost Coast. Much of the hike consists of slogging through loose sand and stumbling over slippery boulders. There are even a few spots that have to be passed at low tide.
The omni-un-presentness of the trail prompted us to re-title our hiking guide. (Roll over the image to see our recommended revision.)
Fortunately, there were some cairns leading to a path up a creek bed above a particularly gnarly point. These poppies were tucked away behind a rock, sheltered from the wind.
A creative Lost Coast trail marker.
You'd think that the side of the cabin facing the fury of the Pacific would be the side that was all mangled.
In the shadow of the mangled cabin, we found a scattering of backpacks, tents, and various other scouting paraphernalia. This was our first hint that we might not be as alone as we had planned.
It occurred to us afterwards that we probably should have raided that pile of bear cans and swiped some of their unguarded sundries. Or at least one of their bear cans. As it was, we had too much food to fit in ours and had to hang the rest in a pillowcase in a tree. (Ask Andre about his ingenious bear diversion.)
The diciest part of the hike. It looks pretty innocuous here, but some of the set waves were crashing onto the cliff here, requiring a slippery dash to higher ground.
The entrance to Cooskie Creek, our first campground. Aside from the life ring, we found no other Gilligan's Island artifacts (a hammock would have been nice...).
Geologists may wish to note that business in the upper right corner and drool.
Sunset falls on Cooskie Creek.
How these trees continue the grow with no foliage out of these rocks, I don't know...
The less-than-spectacular sunset at Cooskie Creek. (Actually, it did look kind of cool when the sun disappeared behind that creepy fog bank.)
These tracks in the sand looked an awful lot like boot prints, but we knew better. There's no people in the Lost Coast! (Actually we spent the night just up the creek from a troop of at least a dozen scouts.)
The fall of the Roman Empire.
Local legend tells of the Great Gay Serpent. Native Americans would try to appease this godlike beast by casting their fish skeletons onto the beach. As these pictographs show, however, this offering was rarely sufficient...
Nearby, Andre and Sarah narrowly avoided a surprise attack of sea-ninjas.
Sarah pauses for a tasty sip of Nalgene R aboard some driftwood.
If it weren't for all of the deep sand slogging, Sarah and Andre probably would have taken more time to stop and check out all the flowers.
Manmade barrel vs. natural barrel!
Looking south towards Big Flat.
I'm pretty sure these trees didn't grow out horizontally from a sandy bank. (They must have fallen down, been covered up, and then exposed.)
Either way, as Andre discovered, they made for great bouncy fun!
Holy fuck! The mother of all trail markers! (How the fuck did this thing withstand all that wind?!)
Aha! Scout troop number two.
Sarah (and her pants) taking a little break.
This was probably the hardest part of the whole hike, so this trail was a welcome sight. There's a cabin visible in the middle of the photo. It took us about three hours to get to this photo-op.
We didn't see a single Smokey the Bear sign during the entire hike.
Something told us not to follow this path. Call it instinct.
We suspected that we had arrived at the airstrip at Big Flat...
...the windsock confirmed it.
Apparently the residents of these cabins use the airstrip to fly in on weekends. Wilderness indeed!
If Cooskie Creek was a little crowded, Big Flat was downtown Tokyo. Here's the second large scout group we encountered.
Scout troop number three joins the party.
(Meanwhile, back at the parking lot...)
When we left, there were only a few cars in the lot. This is what it looked like when we came back at the end.
With the scout infestation in full force, swanky campsites were in high demand. Our original plan was to camp in Fort Phoenix, one of many products-of-boredom built along the coast at Big Flat. It provided decent shelter from the wind, but the amount of floor space left something to be desired.
This dude wasn't much help in finding a campsite. (Cute though!)
People have a lot of free time on their hands in the Lost Coast.
Bonus: there's a very workable right shoulder at Big Flat. Maybe it was just from walking along 16 miles of blown out breakers, but this wave looked pretty tempting!
By far, the second rock from the left was the best camping table we'd ever had! Yowza, what a rock!
More Lost Coast wildflowers (this time slightly concealed).
Did I mention that the trail wasn't much of a trail?
Sea green mossy boulders.
As if the treacherousness of the boulders wasn't enough on it's own, certain doom awaited those who ventured too close to the Pacific Ocean.
Does anyone know what these things are?
Snake tracks! (And more boot prints.)
There was one stretch of coast on our last day that was littered with all sorts of dead animals. Fish heads, sea stars, weird orange things, and dead birds.
Sarah and her fantastic posture, enjoying the view at the Lost Coast, Humboldt County, California.
At the second to last big creek, Sarah rested at the mouth while Andre ventured up into the bush...
It was a magical wonderland up in there! Very green and very lush.
With a neat little waterfall too.
Andre Donkey-Konged back out to Sarah via some super-marine logs.
These neat little plants grow long red stalks, but unfortunately all of those specimens were too high up the cliff.
Insert Dirty Harry quotes as appropriate.
Irresistible yellow flowers growin' outta a log.
Lest you get the wrong impression, Sarah hiked her ass off on this trip.
This deadly menace swooped down out of nowhere! Fortunately I managed to snap a shot between offensive maneuvers.
With Shelter Cove visible in the background, Andre and Sarah discover that the jeep mirage they had seen headed towards them along the beach was actually a complicated stump.
According to our (crappy) guide book, there was a road all along Black Sand Beach. What a tease! A solid road would have been pretty sweet after all that sand hiking.
Here's the last truck to try the drive.
Dork/Hipster, presumably on his way to Big Flat. (Andre's cynicism springs from jealousy.)
Sarah definitely had a beef with at least one of this sign's claims.
Miles hiked: 25.59
Max elevation: 81 ft.
Nights spent: 2
Scouts spotted: oodles
Delicious new camping meals premiered: 4 (chicken tetrazini, hummus/pita with s.d. tomatoes, pasta with spinach cream sauce, tabouli salad)
Dead fish pictures Sarah wouldn't let me put on this website: 3
Rattlesnakes encountered: almost one