Jerry and Norm
The Hiker’s Guide to the
The Hiker’s Guide to the
Both books include maps.
Trails of the Lost Coast Map, Wilderness Press
King Range National Conservation Area Lost Coast Trail Map –
Tide Tables (we used Shelter Cove) - http://gofishingforum.net/
Note – We also did this hike in 2004. We did it one week earlier this time. The weather was much cooler this time. Since we were familiar with the route and the sights, we planned to minimize some bad spots and maximize our favorite spots.
We were walking in just a few minutes. It was very WINDY, from the Northwest. We were very happy we had decided not to walk South to North as we had originally planned. As the next few days developed, we became happier and happier about that decision. Everyone we met mentioned the wind. We stopped at the light house for lunch and were soon joined by The Couple in Black. They were friendly and shared their names but we forgot them. They were 20 something, from
There is a tide issue in the stretch beyond the light house but the tide was going out, so all points were passable for us. We wanted to camp beyond the final tide issue, so we needed to get to
Jerry walked back a quarter mile to the last small creek/ravine and found two flat spots. The Couple in Black took the other one. We were somewhat out of the wind, but gusts would blow the tent away, even with a pack inside. Norm crawled in to hold it down. He got comfortable and dozed off. He basically stayed in the tent until Jerry got ready to retire for the night. We should not have even put the tent up, until we actually intended to retire. The wind gusted all night. We eventually were wearing every but if clothing we brought; 2 shirts, sweat shirts, rain jackets, rain pants, stocking hats, gloves. This was required on every evening but one.
We camped in a big driftwood shelter just beyond the landing strip for the third house at Big Flat. The Couple in Black took a shelter down a bit further. Water was readily available from Big Creek. We were nicely out of the wind this time. We had vivid memories of this stretch from the first trip and they didn’t match up very well with the actual trail today. Funny how that works.
Jerry claimed he saw a sea lion but it never appeared again. Norm offered a dollar if the sea lion appeared again. Jerry kept talking about him but “Fred” did not reappear. Eventually Norm charged Jerry $3.00 for repeated references to Fred. Ironically, we saw about 30 real sea lions down the shore a little ways. We then even saw one up on the shore. He was very close to where we were walking and actually startled us as we realized that he was not just another piece of driftwood. He seemed healthy and contented. Tossed sand occasionally, maybe to keep the flies off?
It was cloudy and the wind was not as strong. We made good time over the first four miles. We took longer breaks after that. We wanted to camp at Horse Mountain Creek which is 1.9 miles from the foot of the Shelter Cove hill. We stopped one creek too soon, but walked further down shore without our packs. We found the sign for the Horse Mountain Creek trail and once again knew we had stopped at the wrong place. We went back for the packs, and dropped them at the foot of the trail. We walked up the H.M.C. trail for about 40 minutes, then back down and then carried the packs over to the actual creek. We found a small shelter there and set up camp. There was a much more deluxe shelter on the south side of the creek but when we arrived another party seemed to be camping there. They eventually left and we went over to check it out. It had a roof and multiple rooms. Jerry was convinced there was wild life (mice and snakes) living in it and that the roof would collapse, so we didn’t move in.
We played ‘tag’ with a party of 3 or would it be 4 today? The couple had their nine month old daughter with them. We couldn’t imagine it, all the extra stuff, giving the baby the attention it needed with little hesitation…
We saw the Couple in Black pass us and go on toward Shelter Cove. Norm was convinced they got a warm, dry motel room for the night and would be having bacon and eggs for breakfast. He tried not to think about it.
We were walking by . The footing was not as loose as some other parts of the beach. It seemed that the beach was made up of very small gravel instead of actual sand. We reached the Shelter Cove parking area by , used the flush toilet, and headed up the hill. We walked about 2 of the 3 miles to the store before Greg picked us up. We bought him coffee at the store. The clerk didn’t seem to know much about our food being there or having the bear cans picked up, but she lead us to where the FedEx pickups are made and our food was there. She agreed to let us leave the bear cans as long as someone from the shuttle was going to pick them up. We bought some snacks and tossed the 3 days of trash we had accumulated. As we repacked with the new food, a young fellow engaged us in conversation. He lived near some part of the Lost Coast Trail and had hiked parts of it. He gladly gave us a ride for the last one plus miles to the
We were surprised to see the sign indicating that this part of the trail required bear cans. We had left ours at the store so there was little choice but to get through this section today. Because we had been given the two rides, it was now possible to get beyond Nick’s camp site where we had planned to stay, and get to the state park boundary. We would need to drop our packs for a few minutes and hike into Nick’s to get water. We had lunch on the park bench at the top of
We were done by . We arranged some bricks and boards from the fallen down house and made a decent camp site. That house would have been the only private house with an ocean view for about 30 miles. We wondered what had kept it from being completed. The Couple in Black walked past as we got dinner ready. It got quite cold on the hill top so we walked down the trail a half mile just to get warmed up. With 6 miles of
We moved on to the visitor center, registered, paid for two nights and watched the ocean from the front steps for a while. We headed down the road toward
No one was at
Norm went off to get water for dinner/breakfast and saw the Woman in Black near the creek. He asked if she was getting water but she said she was picking nettles. Norm asked if that was a good thing. She laughed and said you can eat them if you cook them first. The Couple in Black were camped on the far side of the big creek. We prepared to have our normal freeze dried dinner except that this package of chicken and dumplings had a far more complex “recipe” than normal. It required simmering the basic chicken, peas and gravy and then 12-15 minutes of simmering after the dumpling mix was put on top. We don’t carry enough gas for that duration of cooking and our narrow Jet Boil stove wouldn’t have worked very well for this dumpling simmering anyway. We just put the dumpling mix away, and made up the chicken and gravy with the normal “dump boiling water in the pouch, stir, and wait 10 minutes” recipe. It turned out OK and we supplemented it with snacks. Better make it a point to read each freeze dried meal package next year. An elk walked right past our camp, and down the trial into the forest. We gathered some fallen wood and made a fire. Played Trivia by flash light.
We were walking by . The
Walking again by with four plus miles to go. We didn’t expect to finish until about . There is a huge climb as you leave the beach. A few more foundations are there. There is a rolling stretch and then another big climb before the long, steep descent into Little Jack Ass Creek. We actually got in before .
The prime camping site on the beach was occupied, but it was starting to rain and we hadn’t seen the other two sites that the guide mentions so we took a secondary site on the beach. It was around the corner of the cliff from the primary site. We were out of sight and we never saw the other fellow. Perhaps he did not even know we were there. The Couple in Black made a site in the grass between the main trail and the beach. Our site was on an elevated place right next to the cliff. We were somewhat concerned about being dry at high tide at . Checking the tide tables indicated that it had been an even higher tide a few days ago, which would have eroded our little hill away, so we thought we would stay dry. We put the tent up immediately due to the threatening rain and threw most of what we wanted to keep dry into it. We put on our rain gear and made dinner in a drizzle. As the rain picked up at , we went into the tent and played Trivia. When the rain stopped, we moved our food away from the tent. There was no place to hang it on the beach, so we put it under a big rock and surrounded it with smaller rocks. The surf is very loud there because of the cove shape. It sounds like a big gun shot every now and then. Norm happened to be up at and saw that the tide was quite a distance from the tent and surmised we would have no problems in our location even at high tide. He slept a little better. In the morning we saw that the waves had come within about 40 feet of our tent but not nearly as high in true elevation.
There were three more major climbs and descents. We snacked once and had lunch. Jerry found a tick that had “connected”. In the middle of the second of the three climbs the trail affords a nice overlook of the ocean. Jerry spotted whales. We saw only the spouting and brief glimpses of their backs but we saw them for several minutes so there was no doubt about this sighting. Seeing whales made the trip complete! As we completed the final major climb it started to rain steadily. We put on our rain jackets but our pants were already pretty wet from last night’s rain on the weeds along the trail. The last section of the trail is out in the open and winds through tall weeds, so by the time we reached the car our pants were soaked and we were ready to be done, and get into dry clothes. We both have water proof boots so we were surprised that our feet were becoming wet. Jerry suggested that perhaps the water had actually run down our legs into our boots.
We changed into our dry clothes in the warm car and headed up the dirt road out of the Usal Creek area. Norm found the flight paperwork. Not only were we 40 minutes “behind schedule” due to the sandals and the elk, the plane was supposed to leave at not . So much for a nice meal on the way. We had burgers from a drive thru. The signage to the rental car area in
Conclusion – We were very happy we had taken the local advice and walked North to South. We took one extra day to do this hike this time. We spent that time enjoying the wilderness on side hikes and longer rests. The extra day made the trip much more enjoyable. Climbing the Shelter Cove Hill in the morning was an excellent idea. Somehow our weather was warmer last time. Just lucky?