HIKING DISTANCE: 25 Miles
TIME: 12 Hours 26 Minutes
I parked my rig at Black Sands Beach, the terminus of this lovely, inaccessible trek. The shuttle to the start departed this morning at 7a. Timing on this trip was sub-optimal as tides are high and at really inconvenient intervals. With that, I planned on spending two nights out there.
Though the trail only covers 25 miles of coastline, the shuttle takes over two hours on narrow, winding mountain roads. I got pretty car sick en route and even had to have the driver stop so I could get out for a breather. I’ve noticed that motion sickness happens more frequently for me, mostly as a car passenger on roads like that one. I felt queasy, tired, and unmotivated when we finally arrived at Mattole Beach. I really just wanted to lie down, but I knew starting my hike would help my stomach settle, so I forced myself forward.
I found myself hiking all day long with only the sounds of crashing waves and roaring sea lions to keep me company, which turned out to be more than enough. I had my ipod but never felt compelled to pull it out. I was much happier to listen to the wave action and the rip current reclaim pebbles from the beach by dragging them out to sea; it sounded like the crackle of fireworks after the big boom.
I had thought I’d camp at Cooskie, because the tide chart indicated that the water would be too high for me safely proceed. It was still early when I arrived there, so I had lunch and considered my options. As I sat there, I watched a sea otter clamor out of the adjacent creek and waddle out to the Pacific. I was so struck that I didn’t even reach for my camera. It was awesome; my first sea otter! I also got buzzed by a rattlesnake and saw a bald eagle soaring along the shoreline. Gah, wildlife is so freakin’ cool!
While I had plenty of food and gear to be cautious out there, it’s not in my nature to stop without at least having a look. Yes, high tide was six feet. That’s true. And there was shoreline visible ahead with the tide receding. I pressed on, keeping a watchful eye for rogue waves and for exit strategies. I expected to eventually come to something that I couldn’t safely pass, but that never happened. And that continued the rest of the way to Black Sands Beach. There were two pinch points where I had to carefully time the flush, but nothing too serious. The seas were calm, and I never had to dodge a sleeper wave or anything like that. The weather was gorgeous too.
Didn’t see too many folks either, with the exception of the obvious group camp sites, where I passed small tent cities. Still, only a couple dozen other folks along the whole route.
As I made my way along Big Flat, I noticed a couple who had set up hammocks on the beach. I felt in myself a sense of longing, a desire in that moment to share the experience with someone who loves what I love, someone with whom to slow down. On my own, it’s about pushing myself, about finding my limits. I want to see as many miles as possible in this short life. With someone, it would be more about the quality of time rather than the quantity of experiences. It would be fun to set up early and read by the water with someone special; on my own, I just get bored. I’d rather be moving. When I’m solo, I’m all about the challenge hike.
I cruised today, covering 25 miles across loose sand and large rocks in 12.5 hours. I wasn’t going for a record; that’s just my comfortable pace. Had a blast, even with two shoes full of sand and gravel. Incredible trail, if you wanna call it that.