Monday July 2, 2012: We woke up to low tide and sunny skies yet again. I slept well during the night, despite the fear of ticks and the near full moon shining in my face. It was a good trail sleep. My sleeping bag and ground cloth were pretty damp in the morning. After a quick tick check and breakfast, we were ready to go. We had about 8 miles or so to reach the small coastal town of Shelter Cove.
We retraced our steps from the evening before, and there was plenty of beach to walk upon, with fresh bear tracks yet again. We were all curious to see if we had made the right decision to turn around the day before. The decision felt completely right at the time.
Lo and behold, just minutes after passing the spot where we turned around, a gorgeous canyon appeared with campsites, fresh water flowing, and trees providing all sorts of shade and refuge. It was a perfect campsite, I believe located at Shipman Creek. It was an obvious escape route along the third and last "impassable at high tide" section. Again, a perfect place to camp. I think we all felt our hearts sink a bit after seeing this spot.
There is another escape route along the "impassable at high tide" section at Buck Creek. The Buck Creek Trail heads east over the mountains. If a person is ever hiking while the tide is coming in as we were, these are two clear safe spots where a person can wait out the tide or camp.
The trail began to take on an appearance that I had envisioned in my mind before seeing the Lost Coast. Dense forests, lush gardens and waterfalls, beautiful wildflowers. After hiking the 4.5 miles of "impassable at high tide" section of trail, the beach really opened up, and Shelter Cove was within reach.
Spillz, Kyle, and I decided to take off our shoes for the last two miles or so. Spillz and Kyle sped off ahead, and I had a real hard time keeping up barefoot. Eventually, I had to put my shoes back on because I was hiking at probably a mile per hour.
Finally, we reached the first sign of civilization, and took the first exit into the town of Shelter Cove. This was probably a bit premature, because we now had about a mile and a half or so of road walking to reach town. We may have been able to continue down the beach a little farther, although I don't know for certain. We took Humboldt Loop Road to Upper Pacific Road to reach Shelter Cove. The Northern Half of the trail was complete!
While in Shelter Cove, we stopped for lunch at the deli/store in the Shelter Cove campground area. There, I ordered a most delicious cheeseburger and fries along with two Mountain Dews. I was pretty dehydrated and tired, but the food tasted delicious. Kyle and Spillz ordered fish and chips. We sat under the shade at a covered picnic table. There we ran into three guys from San Francisco who we had crossed paths with the day before. They were hiking north, and had also just finished the northern half of the trail. After talking for them a bit, we found out that they were actually from Virginia, and had gone to high school near where Spillz had gone to high school. They were rival schools in fact.
We couldn't linger too long, we still had more miles to cover. Before leaving town, Spillz and Kyle stopped by a market to pick up more supplies. The owner seemed a bit angry or hostile at first. I noticed he had posted a write up about the threats of radiation to the local populace there. I told him about the Fukushima debris we had found and opened the doors for a rant. I found the man incredibly entertaining, and it wasn't long before his tough demeanor subsided a bit and he became much friendlier. After buying the necessary supplies, Kyle, Spillz, and I began our road walk to reach the beginning of the southern section of trail.
This road walk seemed much longer than the mileage posted. According to the map, it was about a 2.5 mile walk up Shelter Cove Road to Chemise Mountain Road. Perhaps the PCT has warped our ability to judge our speed. What I imagined taking a little more than an hour, seemed to go on for over a couple of hours. The hike up Shelter Cove Road was all uphill, pretty steep in parts along a windy paved road. Thankfully, there was another market along the way, so we stopped again for cold beverages and a rest.
Finally we reached the trail head at Chemise Mtn Road, took a break, filled our waters, and planned to hike to Nick's Camp. This turned out to be perfect because Nick's Camp has water. There was no other water that I remember seeing until we descended off the ridge line the next day. If you are low on water, Nick's Camp is the place to get it.
The trail continued to ascend to the ridge line. We were in perfect position to reach camp at a decent hour. We hiked through Douglas Fir forest with occasional views of the ocean down below. Eventually, we reached Nick's camp. It was perfect except for the fact that it was an absolute wind tunnel. The wind was howling through camp when we arrived, and continued to howl nonstop through the night. We looked for alternative camp sights nearby, but came up empty. Thankfully, I think we were all pretty exhausted from the long day that it did not matter too much.
I set up a stingray shelter and tried my best to block the wind. After we cooked and ate dinner by the creek, we called it a night. We only had about 5 or 6 more miles to go before our Lost Coast hike would be completed. It appeared that we had played our cards just about perfectly to be where we were at this moment in time. We were on track to finish by noon the following day, giving us plenty of time to head home before working again on the 4th.