On Saturday July 23, Kristy Johnson McBride, Paul Hagan, and myself, Marcus Quintiliano, ran the Coastal Trail from Gargantua Harbor to the Visitor Center at Agawa Bay. Greg McBride ran the first 1/2 with us finishing at our stashed support vehicle at Coldwater River (25K). Our route covered 54.5 KM (33.9 miles). We climbed 4498'. And finished in 12 hours 21 minutes. Our pace was 21:50 per mile.
Here is the GPS data from the run...
The route that Viktoria and Sam completed last year included 5 or 6 miles of trail north of where we started. This northern terminus is not accessible by vehicle. We avoided the logistical hassle of the northern start. I just want to be clear that we did NOT run the entire trail but a slightly shorter version that made a crewless attempt more manageable logistically. I think that both the long and short versions will be attempted many times in the future. I know I will be back for both distances.
We hired a shuttle from Naturally Superior Adventures. Samantha picked us up at the Agawa Bay Campground at 6am and drove us 1 hour to Gargantua Harbor.
After a quick picture we started down the trail at 7:05. We finished at 7:26 and found someone at the campground gatehouse to snap a picture for us.
Let me just say that this trail is amazing, beautiful, challenging, and cruel all at the same time. Beautifully technical climbs and descents. Crazy rock outcropping scrambles. The coves covered in softball size and smaller rocks were a nightmare to run/hike on. The bowling ball up to huge boulder beaches were a lot of fun. The massive jumble of house sized rocks near Agawa Point was just mesmerizing. The trail just never lets up. Very little of the trail is runnable, you just have to grab quick runs when you can between scrambles and rock hops. The last couple miles into the Visitor Center was flat and fast trail. You really can't break focus the entire time. Between watching your footing, looking for handholds, spotting cairns and trail markers you will be fully occupied.
I would not recommend this route if you don't enjoy technical trail. But if you are looking for a technical challenge, you won't find a better trail. The route is remote, particularly the northern half. And with the difficult terrain, rescue would be extremely challenging.
The afternoon became quite warm and we spent a lot of time sterilizing/purifying water. We were drinking a ton after the hot crossing of the beach at Sand River. Having a crew to resupply at the numerous access points on the second half would have been helpful but this is how we set up our trip. We did resupply once at a car we left at Coldwater River. If you stash a car for resupply, don't park your car in the sun like I did. Didn't even think about it at 6:15. Warm gels and sandwiches were pretty bad. Yeah I felt stupid for that move. There is an old 2 track off the parking lot at Coldwater that would have provided nice shade. Also a cooler for our food and water would have been a great idea.
Here is a quick video that I put together from our day on the trail....