There are magical places in the world that we live in. I would have to say that my visit to the Lost Coast was one of the most epic and endearing moments of my life. The Lost Coast is located in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, about an hour north of Fort Bragg and 3-4 hours outside of the bay area. In fact, the only way we reached the trail head was by driving down a narrow dirt road that switched back several times. It was 5.9 miles of going about 10 mph the whole way. Little did we know that this would be foreshadowing most of the trip.
For those who don’t know, the Lost Coast is STEEP! There are so many switchbacks here it is insane. I soon learned that the reward for a hiking up a steep mountain is fear of falling down the mountain. I went with two of my friends and this was my first backpacking trip. What a trip.
Our trip was going to be a 2 night trip. We started on the south side at Usal Trailhead and Camp, then we stayed the first night at Anderson Gulch and the final night was at Little Jackass Camp. The first day was a beautiful hike through golden meadows sandwiched with refreshing walks through tall redwood trees. These same trees were ones that were cut down over a hundred years ago, when this area was a booming lumber area.
The pace of the hike was set to be slow. The first day we went to Anderson Gulch which is 5 miles from Usal Camp. That took about four hours for a pace of an hour and fifteen minutes per a mile. Normally I would say 2 miles per hour is average. We did as good as we can for hiking up and down is not something to laugh at.
The second day we hiked out to Little Jackass. This was only 2.5 miles but the hike took us almost 2 hours! If the first day was considered tough, then these two and a half miles kicked our behinds! Maybe there is a reason this place was called Little Jackass. We left to get here early, so we can grab a camping spot on the beach to relax and chill all day.
It was beautiful! We set up our tents on the black sand. There was a fire pit that brave backpackers before us had set up. There was a lush creek surrounded by green plants that went whispering past us. And best of all we could hear and see the ocean breaking a few hundred feet down the beach. This was truly magnificent and worth the pain of coming out here. We even met a deer which amazingly scaled the steep mountainside right next to us looking for tasty grass.
The next day was the day that would test us. We were going to hike back the 7.5 miles to our car at Usal Camp. We encountered everything we had in the previous two days, but this time it was jam-packed into one! I did not describe the several humongous trees that had fallen over which required climbing over. One must have been 2 feet in diameter so at one point we were hanging onto the log with both feet off the ground.
Nor did I talk about the crumbling cliffs. At some points we had to take it extra slow as the trail became so narrow and crumbly that we feared we would fall off. No one fell off of course, but we did have a few heart tingling slips! Another thing we had to be careful about was following the person in front of us too closely. I learned this on the first day as tree branches would get in the way, grab some momentum and fling me in the face!