The road into Matthole Trailhead was a rutty mess. Firecracker and I had been on a long road trip from SoCal up to central Oregon and back out to the coast on a last minute idea to get a short hike in before she had to head home. We had already hiked about 80 miles together in the Sierra earlier that summer and were itching to see something neither one of us had seen before. After looking at maps and the general direction we were headed, it only made sense that we should hike what we could out on the coast.
We got into Eureka, CA just after midnight and found the outfitter in Arcata first thing in the morning. There we grabbed a map and a tide chart. A tide chart?? For a hike? Yes, a tide chart, a small spreadsheet that lets you know when high and low tides are along the coast. This is used for planning because some of the trail is actually on the beach and when the tide is up some of the portions are impassable. We also realized in short order that we would need our bear canisters as well as American Black Bear are known to frequent even the beaches up there. We topped off on food and fuel and headed out towards the Lost Coast.
Reaching the trailhead, we exited my truck and were immediately greeted by a nice breeze and the refreshing smell of the salt and sand. As we readied our gear on the tailgate a group of four hikers were just returning to their truck. Turns out one of them was a hiker friend of a mutual friend of ours from the PCT. Small world! He also asked if we were going to hike the whole thing. This stuck us as such an odd question because the trail is said to only be about 49 plus miles long. He let us know that it was eventually extended another 50 miles south unofficially. We were kind of bummed because we knew we wouldn't be able to hike both sections and get to the airport one time if we did, so we decided to go for what we know and walk the two days to Shelter Cove.
Stepping off we were both jazzed stopping for some quick Hollywood shots on the beach before heading south. The sand was challenging after being used to hard packed trails. After a few miles it mellowed out and we figured out it was better to walk down on the wetter, hard packed sand if we wanted to get anywhere.