We live in a fast-paced society. Walking slows us down. – Robert Sweetgall

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Why would I choose this as the first picture of the post?
Seems pretty insignificant, and even downright irrelevant to the title of this post, right? I mean, compared to the other photos I have in here…

Well, I’ll come back to that in a minute.

Last week some friends and I hiked the northern section of the Lost Coast Trail . An incredible trail that showcases the iconic serenity of the northern California coastline.

Walking the coast

Walking the coast

People usually take their time on the trail, but as some of us were on a tight schedule – we hiked the length of the trail (25 miles) in a fast-paced two days.
The days were long, and the hike varied from trudging through calf-straining mounds of dry sand, to hamstring-tugging-basketball-sized bouldering, to pleasant well-trodden dirt paths.

Rocks

True, the days were shrouded in mist — but it actually set the mood and made the whole experience more surreal… not to mention mercifully shielded us from harsh sun rays and kept us relatively cool while we trekked with all our gear.

Misty walk

We may or may not have taken some steeper detours.

We may or may not have taken some steeper detours.

To prepare for our journey, we drove two cars out to the coast — so that we could park one at the end of the trail in Shelter Cove, and the other a two hour drive north at the Trailhead near Petrolia. This saved us some cash by not having to use the shuttle system, and the hassle of having to hitchhike with a group of five.

We also made a pit-stop at the Shelter Cove General Store before dropping off the trail-end car, so that we could pick up the essentials: snacks, a trail map, bear boxes, and most importantly – a tide chart.

Cliffs

Creeping tides...

Creeping tides…

A tide chart.
Truly, a crucial tool to mind when hiking on trails that look like the pictures above.
We had indeed read the tide chart, and knew when the tides were scheduled to come in… and we deliberately pulled some tight maneuvers to make time.

This isn’t something I would necessarily recommend to everyone hiking the LCT. People get seriously stuck or injured trying to race the tides in the impassable zones, so give yourself ample time to cross. If not, you’ll be racing from shallow alcove to narrow gully, around jagged rocks jutting out into the waves so that you can avoid getting soaked, or worse!

This brings me back to the first photo of the post.

The last one

The picture is of a slimy, algae covered wall, dripping off of a cliff along the narrow shores of the trail pictured above.
Just after I took the photo, I watched the oncoming waves as they smacked the rock wall bulging out into the high tide in front of me, blocking my path — and I tried to time the swells just right.

As I sprinted out around the wall to dip into the next dry rocky inlet… I was drenched with a startlingly frigid, surprise second wave… from head to toe.

In my defense, I held my Nikon D90 above my head as the wave slapped me into the wall.
Unfortunately, the wave was about a foot over my head and dragged me to the ground anyway, making sure it didn’t leave a dry inch.

Nikon D90
March 2007 – April 2015

That insignificant wall of dripping, slimy algae is the last photo that my Nikon took.

On the up side, I really can’t complain — that camera lived a solid, adventurous life — and went out with a bang!
Plus, I had a handy back-up, waterproof camera to document the rest of the journey.

Some more photos from the trail, from both cameras:

The crew

The crew. Photo courtesy of Julie Postma @greenhighways

Gaining our bearings...

Sea Lions Hidden Oasis

Exploring a water source

Seal Carcass Ladybug

Into the mist

Pack Mist

River crossing

Wildflowers

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Abandoned Wildflowers

Ladies

Packs

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Dried starSea Otter Mystery Animal

Takin a dip

Finishing with a bang.

Some good ideas to have with you on the trail (besides usual camping gear):

Shoes you trust and are comfortable walking in… they don’t necessarily have to be hiking shoes or Chacos — I hiked the length of it in quick-drying, lightweight tennis shoes.
Dry bags to keep your clothes, sleeping bag, and electronics in (inside of your pack).
Rain gear, or at least a waterproof windbreaker.
A hat — even with fog blocking the sun, UV rays get through and can cause major burn.
Layers and a set of clothes you keep dry and save for sleep. The nights are cold and sleeping in wet clothes can be dangerous.
Iodine pills or water pump. There are a ton of water sources along the trail, but the water definitely needs filtering.
Share tents. If you’re traveling in a group, it’s a good idea to share tents — you can split up the weight of the tent among your packs, and it keeps you warmer at night!
Hand Sanitizer. It’s just sanitary.

 

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