Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Hittin' the Trails
Zac and I finally got a backpacking trip in - last time we backpacked was in Costa Rica, more than 6 months ago. Thats pathetic! Yikes! Anyway, it was a great hike with spectacular views. We planned on a 21 mile hike for Saturday and Sunday, but that magically turned into a 29 mile hike, which is fine by me, we're just mildly (understatement) sore from the drastic up and downhills. 14.5 miles each day. We hiked in the King Range (about a 2.5 hour drive south of here, only because of unmaintained curvy roads) and the Loast Coast (largest undeveloped stretch of coast, beautiful!!).
We went up King Peak, which is only a little over 4,000 feet, but that's a good gain from sea level. Lots of manzanita, madrone, and old growth douglas firs. There was a lot of new growth, not sure when the fire hit, but it was a big one. After King Peak, there were 5 miles of crazy steep knee jarring switchbacks. Hot damn! (I prefer uphill, because i'm a beast).
Sadly, we saw no bears, which is surprising because there was an obnoxious amount of fresh scat all over the trail and various bear warnings. We saw lots of mule deer, including one giant buck who starred us down, tons of grouse, quail, turkey, a little skunk, lots of rabbits. There was a sea otter toilet near our tent spot, so we kept an eye out but didn't see any otters make a toilet run while we were there. Ah! I almost forgot to mention that we saw 9 snakes! Three of them were rattlesnakes - two western diamondbacks and one western rattlesnake. Two were pretty small, but one of fhe diamondbacks was a hefty size. And he and the western rattlesnake were not ready to leave their territory. Very cool! We always get excited about snakes. The other ones we saw were two ground snakes and four California garter snakes (we think).
Made it down the switchbacks - the sound of the river was sweet relief! It was a few more miles to the ocean and the view of the King Peak was pretty awesome once we got there. There were a couple little makeshift shelters on the beach, made up of a bunch of driftwood, so we set up camp there. It was such a cool tent site! We thought about just staying there a week or so..but, we only had food for a few days, so that wouldn't have worked too well. The spot was gorgeous. We cooked up some mighty tasty dinner of split pea soup, played yahtzee and went to bed with the waves crashing 50 yards away. Very nice. That's the campsite below - Zac's inhaling the rest of the soup. Yum, yum yum!
We woke before the sun made it over the mountains, which made for a rather scenic foggy morning. I made some strong coffee coffee coffee and we ate breakfast by the ocean. Such an awesome spot, I love it out there!
We packed up and set out for the day. It should have been 3.5 miles on the beach, then we were supposed to hit the trailhead and start heading back up inland. Very lovely hike, fantastic coastline, rocky beaches, kickass driftwood. The stretch we hiked was unpassable at high tide. But even at low tide, you had to run from the waves at times (kinda worrisome at times). So, there was a bit of jogging on big wet rocks with a heavy pack. Exhibit A:
We stumbled on a little sea lion pup. Ah! Such a cutie! I think he might have been part dog-cat, I'm not sure, but the little guy was rolling all around in the sun. Adorable.
We reached Buck Creek (what we thought was Buck Creek), but there was no sign, so we continued onward, very confused, since we uh, definitely had gone 3.5 miles. Eventually we did see a trailhead and realized we had ended up hiking an extra 6.8 miles (once we turned around). Huh, interesting. Eh, what can you do?
We booked it pretty quickly back to where we were supposed to be. Ate some food and then started back up into the peaks. The trail went uphill really fast, no kidding around. Within minutes we were in thick doug fir forests with the ocean far below us. The trail was continuously uphill for miles. Like I said, I'd take uphill over downhill :) There's an amusing picture of Zac coming up the trail, but I think he'd rather that be left alone. It was crazy how fast we climbed up and how far away the shore looked after such a short time. Again, sweet views!
We got back to the car around 6 30 and in a short period of time, consumed our cache of ginger-o's we had left in the car. It was an awesome hike and the weather was ideal. We're planning one for the Trinity Alps in a few weeks, can't wait!