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March 23rd to 25th 2012: Lost Coast

On Friday Matt picked me up and we drove north, meeting Ken and Jay at the Mattole Beach trailhead in the afternoon. Kat had planned on joining us but backed out due to the high probability of wind and rain. We set out into constant high winds from the south. Every so often it would gust so strong as to stop us in our tracks and cause us to turn around as it was quite painfully pelting our faces with sand.

After a few hours we reached the abandoned lighthouse, our planned destination for the night, and found the oil tank room taken by other backpackers, so we headed a bit further south and camped on the beach. After setting up shelters and eating we hung out then went to bed.

In the morning I found that Matt had been soaked and walked back to the car in the early morning. Jay had also been soaked but managed to make it through the night. Ken and I were both fine, indeed I was warm, dry and comfortable the entire night and really enjoyed listening to the sound of first the sand hitting the tent and later the rain on the tent.

Looking up into the mountains were we were headed we saw fresh snow and the forecast was for showers/rain all day, so Jay knew he didn't have a chance for his sleeping bag to dry out so he decided to cut his losses. Ken and I decided we would go back as well, and then determine what to do at the trailhead.

Back at the trailhead, in the VW van listening to the rain on the metal roof and discussing our options, Ken very urgently yet politely excused himself prior to bursting out into the rain and vomiting. I suspect that had we continued I would have been hit by lightning, so we all drove home.

From left to right, Jay, Ken and Matt in the wind.

 

Heading south, just before the cabin with the lighthouse just visible beyond that.

 

Our camp for the night. The top of my shelter, a Tarptent Rainbow, is visible in the middle left among the driftwood shelter. Matt set up a poncho tarp (seriously) to the right of me, against the driftwood shelter. Ken (green Hilleberg Unna) and Jay (gray Tarptent Contrail) opted to stay out of the sand.

 

Here's a better view of my shelter in the driftwood structure. The wind was blowing hard from the south (or left).

 

Here's Matt trying to light his Esbit prior to setting up his poncho tarp.

 

After packing up the next morning I used the tripod and timer on my camera to take some photos while waiting for Ken and Jay. This one is looking south and you can see the snow on the mountains in the upper left were we would have headed.

 

And turning the camera around you can see the lighthouse and some of the random debris that washes up on the beach.

 

Ken and Jay heading back to the trailhead at Mattole Beach. The point they are about to go around is not accessible at high tide.

 

After crossing the high tide pinch point, Ken and Jay tried to find hard sand near the surf and cliff respectively. Matt's footprints are on the far right. On the walk back, I found that walking in Ken's tracks made the sand walking much easier.

 

While Jay sticks to beach walking I opted for a trail on the cliff.

 

Back at the car we found Matt asleep with the heater on.

 

On the drive out we stopped at the snow, all of which had fallen the previous night. No, I'm not using the bathroom.

 

From the left, Ken, Casey, Jay and Matt.

 

More snow on the drive out.

 

Here's the loop that perhaps we'll do next year. Click here for a higher resolution version of the map.

 

And here's the elevation profile of the loop. Click here for a higher resolution version.

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