Did you notice my title rhymes? Ha ha, I had to make sure. I love a clever title when I can come up with one. Anyway, yes, my birthday. I’ve celebrated on the trail for my 45th, 47th, and 50th. Apparently I think suffering is a great gift. And this trip was no different – in fact, this one took the cake…birthday or otherwise.
After the Shipwreck Coast trip in February, I really did think the 17 miles of the South Coast trail would be a breeze in comparison. A couple extra rope climbs should be nothing compared to all those miles of slippery rocks we endured the first round. Well guess what…
I will never call a rope climb “fun” again. Many of these miles felt like an army training obstacle course. Up down, up down – let’s add a bunch of mud pits too – oh, and take out a couple rungs on the already mostly deteriorated ladders! These miles are great for anyone preparing for special ops entry, but not exactly 50 year old friendly.
But me and my half century old friends crushed them just the same. Slow and steady wins the race. And even though it was torturous, I loved every bit of it. I wouldn’t want to have turned 53 any other way. Happy Trails!! (Hiking itinerary below for anyone wanting specifics, but my advice to anyone wanting to experience the South Coast is to just go in and out at Third Beach. Everything between Mosquito Creek and Oil City is not worth it unless you want the PNT miles like I did.)
Day 1: Started at Oil City (NOT a city…total boonies out there) at 7:30 am to take advantage of the low tide at 8:30 am. This meant finding a place to stay close by, or getting up at a ridiculous hour to make the LONG drive. We did not want to chance the first come campgrounds being full, so we found this private campground right between the two trailheads. I highly recommend them!(Airbnb campsite )Anyway, the first bit requires a tide of 2′ or less and involves the slippery rock business, but after that you are done with rocks. Though after the rocks you must immediately face the ladder of death. We had a real hard time finding this up and over, and I made the mistake of thinking the trail had gotten washed out. DO NOT TRY AND GO UP THE WASHOUTS! Seriously, I thought I might get swallowed up in mud. Once up the ladder, you’ll find a stealth spot, which could be a life saver if you are coming the opposite direction at high tide. (I really think a group of girls we encountered may have had to use it as the next tide was only going to be 4 feet – no 2′ tide until morning.) Expect the obstacle course until you get over Mosquito Creek. (You also need a low tide for this, so we were a little stressed until we crossed it.) Then you have some glorious beach walking until you hit more up and over. A couple more stream crossings that could be bad in certain circumstances (easy for us this day, thank God) and we arrived at Toleak point around 5:30 pm. A total of 10.7 miles for the day in 10 hours. (Lots of rain the night before made for extra mud which made us extra slow, but I still think a mile an hour is sort of par for this course.)
We stood looking at the ladder leading up to the campsites on the bluff and all agreed it was beach camping for us. Barely a breeze, it was a perfect evening…until about 1 am when the crazy windy storm hit. FYI, you can avoid this by simply hiking around to the NW side of the bluff where it is protected. (And where everyone else was camped…no wonder we were alone!)
Day 2: Another early low tide, so we got up early to knock off the beach walking while we could. More up and overs past Scott’s Creek (I seriously lost track of how many total ropes we used–though they were all going down, which may be a good argument why going NOBO was the better choice) and we arrived back at the car (that we had dropped off the night before) at right around noon, so a little better time with 6.5 miles in about 5 hours. I took my third (and probably my last) picture with the Twilight stars at the Three Rivers Resort hamburger joint. (My fav!! A great little place with a adjacent grocery store…but don’t try to bring your beer into the dining area with your food–that, my friends, is a no no!) I’m afraid there will be no more Twilight selfies for me…now that I have that portion of the PNT completed, I think my beach hiking days are over. Though I have learned to never say never.