So a new transition has been made and there is so much to catch up on! I chose to leave Orleans farm and follow my heart, which initially went with Russ down the mountain to Eureka – specifically Old Town’s Coffee & Chocolate, with a side of Wi-Fi. We spent a week cooking, eating, sleeping and a few other special events sprinkled in (Octet gold metal swimmers are so dreamy!).
I had a chance to interview for a job in Arcata. I chose to continue WWOOFing instead. It took some encouragement. Since becoming ill out in the boonies, I was weary of doing it all over again. But in the end, I had to admit: a job in town was not in my heart.
So! On the weekend I go couch surfing and find one with Wi-Fi installed! It helps me nail down a gig in Mendocino County, outside a town called Willits (where we Chillits with the Illwitz!). With a proper destination, I give myself full permission to relax! Russ and I make preparations to get Lost (on the) Coast! We are going to backpack for three days!
On Wednesday morning we walk out onto black sand beaches. Fog envelops us. It rolls in and out of each point obscuring and then revealing pieces of shoreline as we hike along. In some areas the seaside is steep and stony; others are smooth sand. Occasionally large rocks emerge, flame-like, from the surf. Kelp beds are scattered throughout. Seaweed swirls as the ocean currents pull it, rhythmically swaying to the cyclical movement of life. I give considerable time to discerning the difference between kelp and sea creatures. Like the waves, I flip-flop over and again, “It’s a seal! …No, kelp… Hold on…” Mostly I’m just fooling myself. What a game! What fun!
As we stride along, an actual seal emerges in the surf. Its gray speckled head appears right along side us, on a breaking wave as it swells! The seal hovers there, greeting us with big, black, perfectly round eyes! As the wave crashes upon itself, the seal drops down the backside and dissappears. He is gone as quickly as he came. Hypnotized by the encounter, I stand watching the surf for several minutes, but there is nothing. How fabulously mystical – ARF!
As we meander closer to the water, the surf chases us up the beach. On one occasion – only once! – the sea floods my shoes. We learn to move quick, sideways, like a crab! By the return trip I am learning to look at the tide line ahead.
After hours of walking on this coastal terrain, I ponder which size stone is best suited to hefting all the weight of my pack. I conclude that fist-sized rocks are easiest on the ankles and provide the best sense of actual ground (Earth sign.) Hard packed sand comes in at a close second, but only if it is really chock-a-block! Russ prefers hopping across giant rocks (Air sign!)
We arrive on Miller Flat about two hours before dusk and begin following a maze of animal trails through its golden grasses. The hard packed earth is a welcome relief from beach walking and the expanse is stunning! There are many opportunities to camp, some more established than others. We choose the one with a hammock! Dropping our packs here, we continue north to the creek for water. As we approach, I spy a black dot upstream that quickly skirts off into the brush (bear). At the water’s edge, there is a small snake anchoring himself in the rocks. A heron is fishing in a deep pool further inland. That will be our spot to filter water. We all must come.
On the way back to camp, we collect firewood. Just outside the site, a man emerges over the rocky ledge leading from the beach. I say hello. He nods and walks on. He isn’t wearing any gear: must’ve made camp around here somewhere. It is too moist to burn wood, so we lie in the hammock until we are foggy and soggy enough to turn in to the tent.
In the middle of the night, I hear Russ blowing his nose really obnoxiously, over and over again. Finally I turn over, only to find him asleep – then I hear the gnarly goblin beyond. Rabid raccoon? Bear? No. Whatever it is moves quickly towards us, around our heads and right past the door. As I sit there, upright, with only a thin veil of fabric between us, my imagination works overtime trying to conjure up an image of what has come a knocking. Russ hardly rolls over! I’m fully awake wondering what in God’s name is making that wretched noise! If it weren’t for the rain fly, I would have full visibility! But, the noise has past and we seem to have survived (for the moment), so I lie back down.
We wake and savor the morning (I’m alive! I survived!). I speculate that last night’s sound came from that man we passed at dusk! He must have been a shape shifter! An angry badger? Choking on plastic? Opossum? I think it is Russ who finally mentions that it might have been a wild pig. “They have those here?” I ask. What a Boar! I generally ignore this suggestion, preferring the magical mystery of all the other imaginary characters that could have come cavorting!
This day, Thursday, is our time to relax. We sit on the beach just south of where the creek meets the sea and watch events unfolding. Waves roll down the beach. It is a clear day, and windy too. There is another snake in the rocks between soil and sand. Three boats hang out north of us. We wonder why, until we spy the surf, and in it: SURF-ers. Out of the blue (sky) a plane lands on the North flat! Who could this be? But of course, it’s a Surfer Pilot! Bra flew in to get LOST for the day! A silhouette of dude and board disembark toward the beach.
I am mesmerized by the seas rhythmic cycles. Waves break in a domino effect down the shoreline and explode onto the rocks! It creates a stunning crash and as the water falls back, stones tear down into the sea. They sound like thunder rumbling from deep inside the earth, yet the sensation you feel is out of this world! The returning wave bows beneath the next wall of water, thrashing together and around one another like the thrilling sign of sixty-nine.
For food our main course is gorpe with a side of gorpe (the variety pack). But dinner is special: almond/soy nut butter with celery and curr-ANTS! As night falls, our fire starts under Mother Tree. Several sticks break near the southern perimeter of our clearing. Soon, a coy little raccoon emerges from the brush to introduce himself! He walks the edge of camp and jumps up into a low hanging tree on the north border. He is trying to be sneaky about visiting our tent. We send him off a couple times before heading to the beach for a view of the night sky.
The beach is so lovely tonight, that Russ and I decide to stay and beach-bag it in the open air! As is customary, a heavy fog rolls in during the predawn hours, surrounding us and lingering on until morning. Ambient light grows slowly in the misty morning. We wake quietly, and a bit groggy. There is sand in my hair. As I begin to stir, stretching my arms and rolling over – WHOA! Elephant seals are all around (Bigger than a breadbox and they bite!) The monstrous sea beasts dominate the landscape! Now I’m wishing for the ignorant bliss of being inside my tent! The consolation prize is that humans are faster on land. We move out promptly!
It is just as well this morning, because we must make our mark three miles downshore in time to beat high tide. Otherwise, we’ll be swimming home! There are several parts of the coast that become impassable when the water rises. Russ and I pack our gear, filter water & start back down the shore. It is familiar territory and yet things have changed. For one, the sky is clear! I am also surprised to find MONSTER Bear tracks (yes, that is a rare species only found on the Lost Coast)! They are as wide as both my fists combined! I meander up the beach with these tracks, watching as they disappear into the surf on occasion. Bubba bear dropped down from the forest early this morning for a real coastal breeze and nice walk on the beach! He must have come via a creek, because the whole coastline is cliff! Imagine that: a beach bear!
We stop for some breakfast (gorpe and gorpe!) and find that we are way ahead of time to beat the tides. This allows for a savorier pace. Also, I decide to have a dip. When we come across a nice “beachy” spot, I strip down and jump in – to the ocean! What a sensation: cool and cleansing, wild and refreshing! It’s like waking up in your beach-bag surrounded by elephant seals!
Russ and I finish up the hike, hop in our fine automobile and head to town for a warm meal (Bacon and Brie on Croissant, and Russ had a fabulous Curry flavored salad dressing – like WHOA!). From there we go south, to who knows what a waits! High (wave) adventure!