Lost Coast Trail Backpacking Day 3

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Came the next morning. It was another quiet morning, which I appreciated a lot.

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No one was at the campground, which was perfect. I literally kept it all to myself, and I really enjoyed the particularly slow process of getting ready to take on another day.

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I had breakfast and then decided to take green tea while enjoying the overwhelming feeling of being surrounded by such tall redwood trees, which I saw night before but didn’t have time to appreciate.

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Not as old and thick as the ones that I haven’t got to see but are in the Redwood National Park, these were still growing tall and thick.

Most people know Redwood as home to the tallest trees on Earth. But the parks also protect vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild riverways, and nearly 40 miles of pristine coastline, all supporting a rich mosaic of wildlife diversity and cultural traditions. Together, the National Park Service and California State Parks manage these lands for the inspiration, enjoyment, and education of all people.

I almost thought of driving to the Redwood National Park once I complete the trail, but a part of me still wanted to go join my friends for a day hike to Half Dome in Yosemite. However, it was an 8 hour drive, and I felt like I was rushing this Lost Coast Trail hiking experience. I kept reminding myself that I was there and that I was enjoying myself right there. Especially when I realized that with the pace that I had due to the fact that my start time wasn’t early, it was near impossible to return to Nadelos Campground in three days in total.

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Once I made up my mind that I would enjoy what I had in front of me at the moment to the fullest, I did start taking time and appreciating every minute of it. The redwood trees, the tea, the solitude. I was there and I was connected to this amazing redwood forest. I was connected to the present by just being there, the past when these trees were not too tall at all, and even the future when these will grow into as thicks as the ones in the Redwood National Park even after I am gone. Because I was there.

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At the Usal Trailhead, I ran into the couple who helped me out on the water the night before. They were going for a day hike, so their pace was breezy and light. Even with the backpack on, I do not consider myself a slow hiker, but I didn’t see the point of trying to catch up with them. Once again, I was there to enjoy myself while being surrounded by this dense forrest that has been around longer than anyone, even the Sinkyone Natives. It was the place where I was at the moment, and it was the place where I was passing through.

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After hiking uphill less than 3 miles, I found the couple resting at an open spot with an ocean view where they were having snack and cooling down. I took a break there as well because I wanted to express my gratitude to them again for the kind gesture they showed the night before. The husband took me on their mountain bikes to show me where the water source was. Of course the first one turned out to be too far to walk with my backpack on (and back), and the second was the shallow creek by the campground where I ended up spending the night. They were Scott and Rose Bud (Rose Mary) and they came to Usal Beach quite often to spend a few days at a time.

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I thought it was a blessing that someone lives so close to the area sparsely settled and unspoiled and comes out in their car camp ready truck and spend a few days here. They get to enjoy not only the forest while hiking and mountain biking but also all the wild animals, from elk, deer, ospreys, gulls, pelicans, sea otters and even whales when they migrate. Because of a sock that I dropped somewhere on my way to the campground from their campsite the night before, they promised me that they would send it to me in the mail if they found it. Of course, it was nice of them to say it, and actually we exchanged each other’s email addresses and I provided Scott my home address in case he really found it. (As of writing this post, I have not received the sock in the mail, so either they haven’t sent it or didn’t find the sock in the first place.)

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After chatting more about other backpacking adventures we had in the past, including my solo trip to Haleakala National Park in Maui, which they almost had a chance to do in the past but didn’t, I shook hands with Scott and hugged with Rose Bud and started strolling down the trail to get to the first creek, Dark Gulch, which was only just a mile away.

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The significant difference between the last two days and the third and last day was the rain and humidity that came with it. There was never a downpour throughout the day. However, the light and constant showers dominated the weather throughout the day, which made the coastal views more interesting to me. The coast that was fully or partially wrapped in the fogs was just as breathtakingly beautiful as in the sunny days.

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And one thing was clear. Whatever chance of rain means it will rain or shower. When I started my trip, I was advised that there was a 30% chance of rain, and it really rained. It may have not been a heavy downpour but constant showers nonetheless. And once it rained, the blanket of fogs started rolling in from the ocean and it truly permeated through the entire densely tree populated forest, as if I were transported back to Vancouver, British Columbia. A part of me got really excited because it really reminisced the days at Stanley Park where I took pleasure walking through, and another part of me was quite surprised by the level of humidity that it came with. Once it rained and the fogs started settling in, I could not keep things dry. Everything seemed and felt damp.

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What the rain, the fogs and the grey sky filled with a thick sheet of clouds gave me was a totally different perspective on the coast and the surroundings. It was the same trail that I walked on for the last two days, and yet such an excitement and great appreciation of blue skies and vast blue ocean that gave nothing but optimism were gone, and I was walking into whole new lands that made me realize how this part of the world sustains its eco-system.

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Such a wonderful discovery, and I was there experiencing it. Once again, I was connected to the present, the past and the future.

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After climbing up and down a few more hills, I was glad to see the familiar sights again – Anderson Campground, Little Jackass Campground, the beach campground where the college graduates were spending another night and my campground Wheeler.

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The youngsters were saying that they went up to Little Jackass Campground and returned due to rain. Probably the elevation gain played a role too, I suspected. But that was okay for them. They were still enjoying what they got going, and that was what mattered to them.

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I resumed my walk toward Wheeler Campground once saying good night to them.

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Due to the constant showers, I kept my Canon SX40 in my backpack pretty much all day and used my iPhone instead. Compared to the former, it was and still is not the best camera to use to take every single shot of the desired objects and sceneries, but the latter did enough for such a rainy day.

Once I got to Wheeler Campground, which is a pretty wide open spot with not much of shades, the rain started coming down rather hard, so I decided to pitch my tent under the threes, and the only spot where I could do that was not too far from the toilet. It was a dry spot thanks to the densely grown branches of a redwood tree, but once the downpour overnight hit, it didn’t stand the chance. And did I say that it was almost impossible to keep things dry? And yet, I was so ready to close my eyes once I finished my rehydrated spaghetti and took off all my clothes, either completely wet or damp.

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About H Peter Ji Photography

I am a photographer. My photos have been sold on EyeEm, Adobe Stock and ShutterStock and also featured on ViewBug and G+ Landscape Photography Community, and via Death Valley National Park Instagram and Facebook. My work is the natural byproduct of my love for outdoors - backpacking, hiking and camping in nature.

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