This need is for areas of the earth within which we stand without our mechanisms that make us immediate masters over our environment...

Howard Zahniser, on Wilderness

Monday, May 18, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend Approaches

I know it. You're just aching to get out there for the long weekend and get in some real beach time!

The Lost Coast is a great trip for Memorial Day weekend. The weather is usually pretty good. The water sources are still plentiful. Flowers are still blooming. The grass is still green. It's all in all a good time to be up here.

You will not be alone. Expect to see quite a number of other groups, especially if you plan to walk the beach from Mattole to Black Sands Beach. Big Flat, Shipman Creek, and Buck Creek will probably be crowded on your last night!

The Lost Coast trail is open with no major obstacles at this time. Some of the creeks may require wading, but that's part of the fun. Be careful with log crossings or hopping on rocks--these are not maintained by me or the trail crew and they can be unstable and slippery!

Upland trails are all open, though some may have a lot of trees down. There was a report, this week, of a new wash-out in a tight spot along the Rattlesnake Ridge Trail. Apparently, the damaged area is in an already-narrow section of trail on a steep hillside. There could be danger of a nasty fall here--watch your step. It may be possible to avoid this section by utilizing an old trail reroute nearby which crosses the creek above and below the wash-out. This area has been trouble in the past. If you hiked Rattlesnake before September of last year, you have probably walked the old reroute, as trail crew repaired the last slide in this spot at that time. Use your judgement and remember you are in wilderness--if something happens, help could be a long way off.

Be sure to bring bear cans. Hard-sided bear-proof containers are required to store all of your food. Bear-hangs are not allowed. Dogs, knives, guns, shouting, beating on pans, and building a big fire are not acceptable substitutes for a bear-proof canister.

If your food is in the cans, the bears are likely to leave you alone. They're smart. They know where to concentrate their energies.

Fires are currently allowed in the King Range. Please use already-existing fire rings at established campsites. These fire rings are not something BLM has built, but people have already built enough of them--don't add to the clutter. Please use dead-and-down firewood. Leave your axe and hand-saw at home. There is plenty of driftwood on the beach for everyone.

When you need to use the toilet, find a quiet stretch of beach and dig your hole BELOW the high tide mark in wet sand or gravel. PLEASE DO NOT dig a hole behind camp on the hillside. The Lost Coast campsites receive a large number of visitors each year and there simply isn't enough ground for everyone to dig a latrine. Dig below high tide and the ocean will refresh the site for the next visitor.

Don't be squeemish about this ocean-burial of feces routine. Every 2000-pound sea lion you see this week will be doing the same thing--and they aren't burying theirs. When you see the beached whale between Kinsey and Oat Creeks... think about that too. On the reverse, walk behind the campsite upstream of the Buck Creek mouth and take a deep breath... smell... you know what that smell is, right?

Bury your toilet paper below the high tide mark or carry it out with you. Burning it is messy and hazardous. The longer it is above ground, the more time the wind has to carry it away and imbed it in a poison oak bush--and I am not digging in there to get anyone's toilet paper!

Backcountry permits are required. These are available for free at all trailheads except Windy Point. The Mattole box ran out last week and some people wrote down their group size, destination, and dates on a piece of scratch paper. I am very grateful to those thoughtful folks and, when I met them on the trail and checked their "permit"... I told them that!

The information from the permit is very important for the pretty graphs that I produce each year to show managers how many people hike the Lost Coast, how that number is changing over the years, and HOW IT COMPARES to campsite condition. We are in the process of calculating visitor carrying capacity for the Lost Coast.

I will be out of the office until Friday morning... if you have last minute questions, call the main King Range phone at 707-986-5400.

If you call that number, you will talk to Meghan, our new front-desk staffer. She just walked the Lost Coast with me last week and is ready to answer your questions!

Give her a call at 707-986-5400, Monday-Friday 8am-4:30pm Pacific.

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