Thursday, July 5, 2012
Lost Coast Trail: Day 1
The drive up the 1 was beautiful in the morning light, and it wasn't too long before the 1 curved away from the coast and began heading east. Usal road, I assumed, would come soon. When we arrived at the spot I thought we should turn, there were no signs. I slowed down my car and looked for any indication that the road would head to the Lost Coast, or any sign that said "Usal," but there was nothing of the sort. I decided to continue east, assuming that Usal road would appear any moment. After driving east another 10 minutes or so, I pulled over and asked Spillz and Kyle if they thought we had missed our turn. They weren't quite sure either, and Spillz suggested we head to Leggett, which is what her directions indicated. We continued to drive east, and it soon became clear that we missed our turn. I had a hunch it had to be the unsigned road I had passed by. 30 minutes later, we arrived in Leggett and the 101 junction. We definitely missed our turn. After checking Spillz directions, they were written from the direction of taking the 101 north and then making a left turn west from Leggett. We screwed up.
We turned around, drove west on the 1 until we reached the turn off where the unsigned road was. To our dismay, someone had painted "Usal :) Lisa" on the road to alert westbound drivers of the turnoff. Too bad the paint had faded on the east bound lane and I totally missed it.
So, in conclusion, if you decide to take Usal road to the Lost Coast, IT IS NOT MARKED! LOOK FOR THE NAME "USAL" PAINTED ON HIGHWAY 1!
After 30 minutes or so, we reached the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park boundary and were continuing up Usal road when it suddenly diverged in several directions. I got out of my car to take a look for any signage, although there was nothing to be found yet again. All of a sudden, a couple guys in a pickup truck barrelled down one of the side roads.
"Where you headin'?" one of the men asked, sporting a grizzly beard and a tide dye shirt.
"Up to Needle Rock," I responded.
"In that?" he gestured towards Spillz's Honda civic.
"That was the plan." I answered again.
"You ain't heading up the rest of Usal road with those cars," the redneck responded. I don't think I'd even take my truck up there now. There are mud pits 300 to 400 ft long. You just finished the easy part of the drive. I'd suggest you turn around and head back up the 1 towards Leggett, and then take the Briceland Thorn Rd. in Garberville."
"OK, that's what we are doing!" Spillz responded, not needing further convincing. We screwed up again. We were going to add another extra hour to our drive to retrace our steps again.
In conclusion: Unless you have a four wheeled drive and are willing to risk serious damage to your vehicle, possible flat tires, and perhaps even getting stuck, DO NOT TAKE USAL ROAD TO NEEDLE ROCK!
HEAD UP TO GARBERVILLE AND TAKE THE BRICELAND THORN ROAD. Briceland Thorn Road is paved, and is well worth the extra time and miles. In fact, it may be quicker considering how slow we had to drive on Usal. Your car and traveling companions will thank you for it.