Way back in August (time flies) I took a backpack trip with my friends the Schmidts to Sinkyone Wilderness State Park on the lost coast of northern California. This was their first backpack trip, and my first backpack with other people in quite some while.
We ended up at Sinkyone, which is north of Fort Bragg, after a long stressful drive seeking out places to backpack or at least camp, and running away from the smoke. After eliminating many places that were closed, or which we could not find out were closed or not, and seeking a place away from the regional smoke, we selected Snow Mountain Wilderness in the coast range, but a wrong turn on remote roads, followed by a fire kicking up and dumping smoke our direction, we ran for the coast. We never intended to go as far as the lost coast, but we had to go that far to find a place and escape the smoke. So late afternoon found us at Usal campground at the south end of the state park.
We camped that night on the beach, me outside with stars and condensation, and they in borrowed tents that turned out to be hard to set up and not very comfortable. But waking up in the morning on a wild beach was worth it. Of course there were a lot of other people in the campground, seeking the same relief from smoke that we were, but we went to the far end and had it mostly to ourselves, and in the morning very few people were up and on the beach.
We packed our packs and headed north on the Lost Coast Trail. This is not the trail that I’ve backpacked on before, north of Shelter Cove to the Mattole River, on BLM lands, but the next section south, in the state park. This is not really a maintained trail, some sections quite nice but others pushing through brush and poison oak, and we lost the trail a few times, following the tracks of other who had lost the trail. The trail climbs to a high point at Timber Point, drops to Dark Gulch, climbs again to the ridge, and the descends to Anderson Gulch where we camped at the backcountry camp above the creek. This is only five miles, but with heavy borrowed equipment and the first time out, the Schmidts did great.
Autumn and I walked down Anderson creek to the narrow steep beach while others relaxed and set up camp.
The next morning we hike back to the car at Usal campground, settling better into the routine of pace and enjoyment, and of course not getting off track this time. We had the late afternoon to enjoy the beach, which was a lot of reason we came, and being Sunday afternoon a lot of the people had cleared out.
We then drove all the way back to Sacramento and Fair Oaks, getting home very, very late, but strongly feeling that it was a worthwhile trip.
Photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/albums/72157716600620383