Came down to the Lost Coast to see some new trail, run hard, and have a true adventure. This is quite a route and it throws everything at you. There are sections of trail that are fast and smooth, but by and large, the full route is extremely challenging, which has been well documented by just about everyone who’s traveled it. The northern section is slow going with its soft sand and zaps energy needed for climbing in the southern section. I went back and forth on whether to start from the north or south, but ultimately decided that from the north provides the safest timing through intertidal zones. I also wanted to see the entire route in the daylight, rather than miss the beauty of the land by running in the dark.
I left Mattole at 7:15 on the dot and ran strong for the entirety of the first half. Gravel sections were at a cruisy 7:00/mi pace, but anytime I hit the sand I would slow to 8:30-9:00. No worries, run what the trail allows and don’t fight it. I felt fresh until the final 6 miles—completely sand—that had me so ready for normal trails like I’m used to. In hindsight, I’m definitely not used to these types of rugged trail either. I believe I reached the parking lot at Black Sands Beach in 3:45 or so, around 5 minutes faster than Jeff.
My buddy grabbed my gear and gave me some snacks and I ran/hiked up the road to the next trailhead, where I stopped to prepare for the next section. I changed into pants, filled my bladder and calories, grabbed poles, and changed socks.
The next ten or so miles were pretty manageable and the area around Needle Rock was beautiful. I’d love to backpack the area to truly enjoy the place. Then, the final stretch was an arduous slog. Steep and primitive climbs, off camber and overgrown trail, technical descents. It was hard going and quite slow, and as I did the math I thought it would be really close to squeak under Jeff’s time. Only in the final mile did he trail finally open up, both wide and soft, so I could rip it to the finish. I was surprised when the finish came a mile earlier than I was expecting, and that I’d barely made it under 10 hours.
Reading Jeff’s overview, I’m grateful for some better conditions than he likely had that helped me along. What an insanely beautiful trail and true adventure. The trail throws everything at you and the uniqueness of challenges makes it a worthy journey, and one that deserves great respect for anyone who undertakes it. Added to the logistics is the difficulty of crewing, so I have to thank my good friend Jordan for making long, winding drives to Shelter Cove and Usal.