Day 1: Mattole start, Elephant Seal finish

Wednesday May 26, 6.7mi/10.8km

Mattole Trailhead (0.0/30ft) to Cooskie Creek (6.7/36ft) (CA)

Topshelf and I woke up at our camp spot near Usal Beach, and we packed up and had a leisurely morning. We drove the 6 mile dirt road down to the beach, but had trouble playing the driving music.

The road was narrow and steep, but had amazing views.

We arrived to the beach an hour later, and ate a second breakfast. Since my car hood met a deer last week, it now has a perfect flat spot to hold a camp stove!

Usal beach was huge, and pretty windy too.

Bard arrived at 11am, and the three of us left in his car. (My car will be waiting for us at the finish). We made our way up 6 miles of curvy narrow dirt roads, and then had 3 more hours of curvy narrow paved roads.

We took a break from the motion sickness inducing roads, and had lunch at a deli/gas station along hwy 101.

We arrived to our starting trailhead, Mattole Beach, at 3:30pm.

The LCT is also the California coastal trail!
No selfies with Elephant Seals…noted.

After some final packing and preparations, we were hiking out at 4pm. Beach, here we come!

Looking behind me, back to the north:

We were all so happy to be hiking again, and I had a great afternoon catching up with Bard and Topshelf.

Occasionally the trail goes up on short bluffs above the beach, which is a nice variety. “To the left!”

The purple flowering bushes were everywhere. I think they are called coastal lupine.

The Punta Gorda lighthouse is just ahead!

It’s very old and kinda dilapidated, but the stairs are still intact, and Bard got up to the 2nd floor.

The nearby interpretive plaque explains the history of the place. It was built in 1910, and operated until February 1951.

We left the little lighthouse, and immediately came upon a massive herd of Elephant Seals.

We went down to the sand for a closer look.

They are massive creatures! The males weigh about 2000kg/4400lb.

The seals were fascinating, and we watched them for a long time. Eventually, we got back to hiking.

There was a little stream with some deliciously cold water. This stream was well above the high tide mark, so we knew it was safe to drink.

The last hour of hiking was back on the beach, which was becoming increasingly rocky.

The beach started to become sandy again, and we noticed tracks. Bear tracks, cool!

We were in the middle of a 4 mile long section that is impassible during high tide. And the tide was rapidly coming in, so at 8pm we exited the beach and hiked a short ways up Cooskie Creek. It was a great little campsite!

We made dinner on a log, and then after dinner packed all our food into the bear canisters.

The sunsets over the Pacific Ocean are superb.

It was a short day of hiking today, since we spent at least 4 hours driving on slow curvy roads. But, I still felt pretty tired and passed out shortly after sunset (hiker midnight). Tomorrow we hike the rest of the beach section!

1 Comment

  1. What a fabulous trip along the beach! From the quaint old lighthouse & lovely lupines to the herds of massive elephant seals. ❤️ Thanks for ‘taking us along’ on your journey.


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