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OT Trip Report: King Range (northern Lost Coast)

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OT Trip Report: King Range (northern Lost Coast)

Postby Pietro257 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:42 pm

While waiting for the Sierra to unthaw after this historic winter, we took a great trip to the King Range National Conservation Area (the northern part of the Lost Coast). (The SF Chronicle notes today, 9 June 2011, that the Sierra snowpack is at 94 percent, what it normally is on April 1!). The King Range NCA is located on the rugged Pacific coast of Humboldt County. It is the only place on the California coast that isn’t accessible by Highway 1. You don’t need to reserve a permit for this trip and water is available all year around, which means you can take this trip on a whim. (Official info: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/content/ca/en ... /index.htm)

What makes this a novel backpacking experience is walking on the beach for miles and miles. You camp on the beach. Hearing the surf for two or three days straight is soothing. And I enjoyed playing beachcomber as I walked along. I found a lot of interesting tide debris – shells, rocks, and the like. You never know what you’ll see around the next point. (Inland trails are available but we didn’t explore them.) We built campfires with driftwood.

The hiking itself is not demanding although some areas of the beach are impassable at high tide, and you have to watch for that. Print out a tide chart and take it with you. The BLM publishes a map that shows where the beach is impassable at high tide. I’ve taken this hike twice. When I took it in the fall, there was still plenty of water. You need a permit but you can get it by filling out a form at the trailhead. As I mentioned, permits don’t have to be reserved. (Last time I went you needed a permit to build a fire, but that wasn’t true this time.) As for using the bathroom, the BLM wants you to do it on the beach below the tideline. Being that, shall we say, exposed, was unusual.

For our trip, we spent a night in Garberville. (Garberville is 4 hours north of San Francisco on Highway 101. Double rooms at the Garberville Motel were $59. For breakfast, I highly recommend the Woodrose Cafe. The Branding Iron Saloon has a good jukebox.) From Garberville, driving the 25 miles on the winding road to Shelter Cove, where the trailhead is, took 45 minutes (look for the BLM Office and Fire Station on your left a mile west of Thorn Junction if you want to talk to a ranger, get a map, or find out about fire permits).

From Black Sands Beach in Shelter Cove, we hiked 4 miles north to Gitchell Creek and made a base camp there. The next day we day-hiked nearly to Miller Flat, an 8 mile round trip. The entire trail along the coast runs for 25 miles, from Shelter Cove in the south to Mattole Beach in the north. The weather in this part of the world is fickle. We got sprinkled on one morning. Fog and clouds and sunshine came and went the rest of the time. We had a beautiful clear sky one night. Temperatures were not cold and the creek crossings, by Sierra standards, were tame.
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Backpacking on the beach
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Our campsite: Fresh water on the left, salt water on the right
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A lovely stretch of beach for hiking
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A rainbow over our campsite
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A desolate stretch of beach
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Impassable at high tide?
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Pietro257
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Re: OT Trip Report: King Range (northern Lost Coast)

Postby gary c. » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:10 pm

That is really cool! Sounds like a lot of fun.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: OT Trip Report: King Range (northern Lost Coast)

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:18 pm

Thanks Pietro257 for very cool trip report to very unique area, really enjoyed it.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: OT Trip Report: King Range (northern Lost Coast)

Postby Ikan Mas » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:56 pm

Thanks for the show. The Lost Coast is a very different and enjoyable hike. We took our scout troop there a few years ago. One thing I noticed about the boys is that at the end of the day, they were unusually mellow. Something about a beach hike really calmed them down when compared to the Sierras. Kind of nice.
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Re: OT Trip Report: King Range (northern Lost Coast)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:15 am

I did the entire Lost Coast, Matole R to Hw 1 north of Ft. Bragg. I loved your photos. I did not take a camera with me and regret that to this day. What surprised me was that the beach walking north of Shelter Cove was so much easier than the route south of Shelter Cove. I would highly recommend the north part for anyone. It is sublime.
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