Where: Southern Portion of the Lost Coast Trail in Sinkyone Wilderness. Usal Beach Campground Trailhead to Little Jackass Camp, 7.5 miles. Who: Ben, Sarah, Heather, Jen, and Megan C. When: Friday May 19, 2017
After the long day of driving yesterday we were lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves at Usal Beach campground and as the sunrise hit my tent around 6am, I woke ready to get this party started! Jen and Megan were still rustling in their tents so I walked over to the privy alone through the Alder trees. I soon met some large friends whom I sang a little song to, hoping they would not trample me as they stopped eating snacks and gave me some hard looks.
We took the morning easy since we were waiting for Sarah and Heather to show up because they had to work the day before. We had planned on them arriving around 10am so we had an easy morning of drinking coffee, packing up, and strolling along the beach. Time ticked by and soon it was 10:30am … then 10:45am and I was starting to worry and think of plan B options. Finally I saw Heather’s grey Subaru round the bend along the dirt road and gave them a hello dance on the one lane bridge. They had gotten lost on the way and with no cell service had a tough time getting back on track but they made it right before 11am. We packed up the last minute things and hit the trail at 11:30am, wasting no time with the uphill. Up and up and up we went through Redwood’s and ferns along lumbering switchbacks. We finally crested the first of many climbs with sweeping ocean views as the reward.
This first 5 miles to the creek at Anderson Camp are just tons of uphill with occasional open vistas in meadows along the cliffs. The views were gorgeous and the climbing tough, especially with our bags full of first days food and water. There are tons of different wildflowers in the meadows, the ones I could identify were Lupin, Poppy, Red Columbine, Western blue iris, and Foxgloves.
We finally left the meadows and headed down into our first gulch through fern town.
We kept our eyes peeled for Poison Oak hiding among all the bushes and would yell out to each other if we found a large patch stretching onto the trail at certain points. I definitely feel super confident in my PO identification skills after this trip! The switchbacks down into Dark Gulch were long and winding, often times under heavy foliage and pretty eroded in some places. The gulch is super gorgeous though with a nice cold flowing creek and magic fern gully type situation.
The only bad part is all the climbing down means … you guessed it, all the climbing back up. Luckily we were in the shaded forest and had lots of day light left to get to camp at Little Jackass. Our pace was very slow due to all the climbing, a little over 1 mile per hour! This was hard for all of us since most of us can jam out around 2 miles per hour but with the climbing and this being the first trip of the season our bodies were not feeling it.
We were still having a great time and chatting about all the random things that popped into our heads. Like how Heather’s new trail name should be Daddy Pony. Let me explain this out so it does not seem as weird as it could, Daddy came from when I called her a few weeks ago and left a voice message on her iPhone and it translated hello darling to hello Daddy and I have been now referring to her that way ever since. The Pony part because when she takes breaks she tends to make the pony lip noise (this is hard to describe so hopefully you know what I am talking about, its when you blow out between your lips and they flap and make that particular pony lip noise of air passing flappy pony lips … yeah that still does not make much sense but whatever) so moving on…
We passed Anderson Gulch Camp which had a small site that was already occupied by a couple of people right near the creek and trail. We climbed back out of the gulch again and there was another small grassy site up on the hill with a random pit toilet just out in the open, that I failed to get a picture of! Needless to say we skipped that and after a quick snack break continued our trek. We finally hit Little Jackass Camp and found a big enough space for the 5 of us among the mossy redwood forest along the creek. There are a few spots down at the beach here but they were already occupied by a few tents.
It was 6pm when we got to camp and we were all pretty beat. We quickly picked spots, washed throughly with Tecnu to hopefully rid ourselves of any Poison Oak we touched, and made dinner to climb into bed ASAP. We were all cozied in bed by 8:30pm listening to the creek flowing nearby.