The Lost Coast is a stretch of California coastline so rugged that roads have not conquered it. The remoteness is a rare respite from the rest of the state. There are no mansions tucked along hillsides or congested lines of traffic winding along the cliffs. Here crumbling gashes of the King Range tower from the sea, blocking the way of everyone not on foot.
Between the cliffs and the sea, the Lost Coast Trail passes along the narrow band of tortured beach. It is the domain of the hiker, a desolate and severe landscape draped by a pristine ecosystem. The path leads from hidden beaches to expansive vistas at dizzying heights above the surf. Apart from sea lions and the occasional troop of Scouts, hikers discover pure solitude. The Lost Coast Trail is one of the finest beach backpacking trips found in the United States, and it has steadily grown in fame and popularity over the years.
Often the trail is no more than a foreboding band of beach that vanishes into an oblivion of marine fog. Twice per day, there is no Lost Coast Trail. Stretches of the route vanish under the high tide, replaced by surf pounding against the cliffs.
The Lost Coast Trail skirts the coast of the King Range National Conservation Area. This is the western edge of Humboldt County in Northern California. To the south of the King Range, Highway 1 veers eastward, blocked by impassible slopes near Rockport. If you were to fly a plane up the coast from here, the next coastal highway you would spot is at Ferndale, roughly 90 miles north. Between lies the longest stretch of undeveloped US Pacific coastline outside of Alaska.
There are two official portions of the Lost Coast Trail. Most people (and this guide) are only interested in the northern section. Most of the time when someone says "Lost Coast Trail," they are referring to just the northern section. This trail runs 24.6 miles (39.6 km) between Mattole and Black Sands Beach near Shelter Cove.
The southern Lost Coast Trail continues further into Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, eventually reaching Usal Beach, about 32 miles from Black Sands Beach. The sheer cliffs of the next stretch of coast are inaccessible by foot, so the trail begins inland several miles east from Shelter Cove, and doesn't return to the coast until near Needle Rock. Sinkyone State Park has tighter regulations than the BLM. Dogs are not allowed and camping must be within designated areas. The southern Lost Coast Trail rarely touches the beach, staying inland and skirting the tops of the bluffs most of the way. It is a beautiful hike, but it is not top-shelf like the northern section.
I will be attempting the Lost Coast Trail - Northern Section tomorrow (1-19-2020).
During my research I have found that the actual Fastest Known Time for the North Section is, as follows:
Jeff Mogavero 3hr 51min 2018-5-27 . (en route to his full trail FKT)
I got to thinking that he couldn't have run the North Section slower than 4hr 38min to pull of his 10hr 10min of the full trail. SURE ENOUGH, it is clearly documented in his write up and in his gps data that he went from Matthole to Black Sands Trailhead in 3:51
As such, I will be attempting to beat Jeff's time and not just Kevin's, which is intimidating since Jeff and I ran together a bit while he was on a temp position with Fish and Wildlife in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He is a vastly superior athlete to me in speed and raw fitness. Lol, we climbed Mt. Shasta in a half-day once (starting at 11:29am), after closing out the bars, 100 miles away, the night before (or should I say the 2am morning of)...my only hope to take down his north section is that, well, he was pacing himself to hold on through the much more brutal southern section,
which gets me thinking about my motivation...
I have been wanting to attempt this trail since I shuttled Ashly Winchester for her Full Trail FKT on it, but I discovered my body cannot deal with the amount of poison oak in the southern section when after a small run down near USAL Campground I had massive reactions all around my body from coming in contact with it...So just the north section it is...plus kowtows to Jeff, I don't think I am that fast.
Who doesn't want an excuse to go to the beach and time the tides in a game of life or death...lol.
Well, I wanted to formally state the old-new Fastest Known Time by Jeff so that it is up there, whether I get this or not, and make my announcement. so there...
Jeff’s pace on that terrain was brutal.
held on for about 7 miles, missed a chance to get on solid trail ended up on a boulder strewn stretch of beach instead, mentally popped, found the trail, tried to get back on pace for a few miles then the surface went back to deep sand and I physically popped. To put the nails in the coffin, I got chased for at least a freaking quarter mile by two Turkeys 🦃 🦃 who were on a kill mission for me. I got big, yelled, threw a rock, they kept on coming at me...And boy can they run. I had the presence of mind to check my watch while blasting away and I was sustaining sub 6 paces and they were still giving chase but not right on me anymore...not what I expected to be the primary memory of this experience.
after about 18 miles, I chose to just walk it in enjoying the views, sleeping sea lions, and a small lighthouse.
all in all, a wonderful day. Hats off to Jeff Mogavero!