Day 5: The Finish

Sunday May 30, 4.6mi/7.4km

Anderson Camp (53.2/120ft) to Usal Beach Trailhead (57.8/40ft) (CA)

This was our last morning on the trail, I’m gonna miss hiking with these peeps. Bard seemed very awake for the early hour.

We got moving at 7:15am, knowing it was going to be a long day of driving. We crossed a stream and started climbing up the opposite hill, and then paused for a bull elk in the trail.

Probably the same elk as last night?

The elk wasn’t eager to move, and when he did, it was just further up the trail. Eventually, he moved off to the side and we were able to get by.

The climb continued up to a ridge, where we had spectacular views of the ocean.

The trail turned inland again, and the next part was a steeply eroded section. It even had a rope for a handrail!

We took a break by the final stream, Dark Gulch stream. I finished my haribo candy and M&Ms, but we only had two miles to go. The climb out of the gulch wasn’t well maintained.

The rare double-straddle of the same log

We emerged up on another ridge, and the terrain was more open.

As we hiked along the slowly descending ridge, the undergrowth became thicker and thicker.

There was poison oak alongside the trail, sometimes on both sides, which made it impossible to avoid.

After the poison oak carwash (we are all burning our clothes after this), the trail resumed it’s nice tread.

The last mile was clearly very popular with dayhikers, as we saw a dozen people. And the trail was very well maintained. A brief break at the final viewpoint overlooking the ocean:

Looking down on Usal Beach.

The trail descended off the ridge on a dozen switchbacks thru a mature forest. It was getting quite hot by now (11am), and the shade was very welcomed.

These little flowers were all along the edges of the trail.

We arrived at the finishing trailhead just after 11am. The signboard was knocked over, so we decided to get a photo with the only other structure nearby.

We still had a half mile further to walk, since my car was parked down at the beach. We changed our clothes, drank and ate car snacks, and then headed down to the water.

It was memorial day weekend, so there were probably 100 other people around. But no one was in the water… except us!

Bard went first…

I went next, and while trying to get in the water slowly, a big wave came and knocked me over. It was COLD! But felt so good and refreshing. We dried off, and went back to the car. After some creative driving thru soft sand, I made it to the gravel road, and everyone else got in. We had a three hour drive back up to Bard’s car at Mattole Trailhead, with a stop for lunch along the way.

The cars are reunited.

Goodbyes are hard, group photos are easy.

It was hot, but our normal clothes have poison oak on them.

We parted ways, Bard driving south, and Topshelf and I driving north to Ashland.

It’s a beautiful trail, and with a little maintenance it could be a good beginner hike. The driving logistics are a little tedious, though there are commercial (expensive) shuttle options. I’d recommend this trail if you’re in California, but otherwise I think the Olympic Peninsula or Oregon Coast Trail are more rewarding beach-hiking options.

Sea you later, Lost Coast! 😁

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