While I could be sipping mojitos poolside in Vegas or Cabo, instead I'm standing in the pouring rain outside Lawrence and David's tent chanting "Spring break! Spring break!"
A few months ago when Lawrence pitched the idea of backpacking the Lost Coast for spring break, my eyebrows perked up at the fun-filled list of warnings and potential dangers on the trek: isolated coastline, semi-predictable tides, rogue waves, bears, wild elk, and wet, wet, wet. Turns out the trail gets its name from the fact that the builders of California's quintessential Highway 1 opted to go around this stretch of coastline because it was too treacherous...I'm in.
"Everything is going to go exactly as planned," David confidently declared before even turning the corner to leave our neighborhood in Santa Clara. Lawrence and I exchange glances, knowing from our previous backpacking experiences that these kind of trips never turn out according to plan, but the adventure comes from figuring it out on a whim.
After 10 hours cruising in my Jeep up Highway 1, we scour the trailhead parking lot only to see that our other two friends were not there to meet us as planned. This was somewhat expected, considering: a) no cell service, b) we never told them that we were taking the scenic route, adding 5 hours to our travel time, and c) we forgot to clarify which trailhead to meet at, north or south. To put it bluntly, it would have been more surprising if we had somehow ended up at the same place.
Luckily, the next morning on a godforsaken dirt road in between the two locations, we find each other. After a celebratory Keystone each, our spring break is back on track and we head out for the trail.
All of the fun promised in the description came as advertised--aside from the bears, which only haunted us in our dreams. The miles of butt-burning miles kicking up wet, gravelly sand were totally worth the hamstring work-out for the views of pristine coastline and redwood covered cliffside. These stretches were a welcome change from the miles of tramping along rocky coastline, leaping and clambering from boulder to boulder trying not to slip and twist an ankle. The couple flat stretches on the bluffs gave our butts a much needed rest, and treated our eyes to sweeping meadows of wild orchids and golden poppies. And the trail wasn't without its fair share of river crossings, almost all of them swelled above normal levels thanks to the stormy weather and heavy rains during the nights we were there. All the different types of terrain were exciting, beautiful, and challenging in their own ways, making the entire trek feel like a constantly morphing adventure through some of the coolest, strangest, and most untouched coastline northern California has to offer.
View all the photos here.
Yeah, 25 miles of hiking on isolated coastline with a 30-pound pack on my back was my college spring break trip of choice. The only all-night ragers I attended were the restless nights tossing in my cocoon sleeping bag, and the only wet T-shirt contest I competed in was the struggle not to inhale the smell while slipping on the sweat and rain soaked shirt I'd been wearing for three days.