9/8/21 to 9/12/21. Training hike on the gorgeous Lost Coast trail near Fort Bragg, otters, elk, seals and bats all came to play

Luann invited Craig and I to join her on the south section of the Lost Coast trail (actually the Siskoiske trail as the lost coast is only the 25 north miles north of Shelter cove. Luann let us all know this is a difficult hike, with many early steep sections, lots of overgrowth, lots of loose rock, and “razor blade” ferns that seem to exist just to cut you up, Luann did not exaggerate as the 1st 4.5 miles was the hardest I have ever hiked.

We drove the 5 hours from Woodland to Usal beach on wen and camped there. During busy times,’Usal beach is known as the “Wild West” of camp spots, with crazy loud parties, and even 1 death when a young lady fell off a truck. For us it was quiet.

On Thursday morning we began the 7.5 miles to Jackass cove. The 1st 4.5 miles was brutal, with about a 1200 feet climb, steep slippery slopes (say that 5 times fast), lots of overgrowth and barely visible trail, and tons of very visible poisen oak. The razor ferns were everywhere and often grabbed our feet, clothes and packs.’ It was a clear day but very humid, and I was quickly tired and drenched with sweat (had to change out my pants, underwear and shirt after 4’miles). No pics as I was exhausted and was contemplating whether hiking was still “fun”

Very cool trail that keeps close to the ocean. Water was available every 4 miles which was nice. I was going to share Luanns bear can,’which saved me 2 pounds (thank god)

Plenty of epic ocean views throughout the hike. The views almost made up for the pain.

Water break and change of clothes at mile 4.5 day 1. Still had another 1000 foot climb and drop over the next 3 miles till camp, but the trail was pretty well maintained and was much easier(but some scrambles under and over fallen trees, and trail washouts did exist. Much easier than the 1st 4.5 miles,‘but still hard.

We made it to Jackass Cove around 4, and set up camp on the beach. The bluffs were breathtaking, and running water was nearby.

Ignore this photo.

Craig scouting the location

Luann is famous for her photo bombs. They add quality to every pic.

My spot on the beach. My clothes were rinsed out and layed out to dry (and they did)

Very neat rock caves and arches were carved out by the sea over the years.

At dusk we were treated to a beautiful sunset

And a double rainbow following slight showers at bedtime.


Despite being tired, I felt ok , slept great and had no physical problems or blisters (which was nice cause I got chewed up pretty bad last hike)

We had a leisurely 8:30 start the next morning, as we were only traveling 5 miles to Wheeler Cove. The plan was to arrive early, snag one of the 2 best camp spots, and take a long 16 miles day hike (with slack packs) to Needle Point rock, then return back to our camp at Wheeler


Crazy nice views. Had to keep my hat off to avoid overheating and over sweating (sadly, it did not work). Only a semi hard trail pretty well marked and with 1 big climb and descent.

Nice path mostly. Some scrambles and tree down issues.

There is a trail there somewhere.

We are not alone. Bear scat.

Wheeler Cove approaching.

Lovely soft beach.

We had dinner here both nights and watched the hundreds of birds ocean dive for food, saw deer run by us on the bluffs, had bats zoom by as well. But the highlight was the dinner show put on by 2 playful otters that meandered directly in front of us.

They started at the left cove and traveled right, rolling and eating in the surf.

Way to cool!

Here is the video of the otters playing. Hope you can see it.

Very nice sunset from our dinner spot in the soft sand.

Some seals also visited us. Not sure if visible in this video.

Cannot have a sunset without a Luann photo bomb!

I did not see the green flash, but Craig and Luann say they saw a green dot.

8:30 am start on Saturday for our 16 miles up and back to Needle Point. We got to leave our camp stuff at Wheeler and only carried lunch and about 10 total pounds in our pack

There were a couple good uphills in the 1st 5 miles, but the final 3 miles to Needle rock and the visitor center was on a gentle road. It was sweet!

Just before reaching Bear cove, I spotted a huge bull elk. He was only mildly interested in us and was a sight to behold.


We easily made it to the visitors center, saw the unimpressive Needle Rock, filled our waters from the faucet, and headed back from whence we came. We made good time and arrived back in Wheeler before 5. My I-phone said I walked 22.5’miles. I felt pretty good, considering.

Luann and the visitor center

Nice views

Easy path to and from Needle Rock.

Very cool.

Needle rock photo bomb.

Made it back to bear harbor, then the 5 miles back to camp. Had a nice late lunch break at Bear Harbor.

The next day we took the easy road trail back 9 miles. An immediate 1500 foot easy climb, then a nice easy gentle stroll back to Usal. We got there before 1:00

On the way home we saw a new fire by lake mendicino. It was close,’but did not stop us.


This hike difficult is near my max ability level, at least until I lose some more weight

No current plans for trips, but hope to find something soon! Thanks to Luann for the invite, and to Craig for driving.

Adding some of the great pictures by Luann

Tons of muscles


Banana and a banana slug

Had to use ropes on washed out sections

Our friends the otters

Better shots of the elk

Published by tomconnolly3

Former 270 pound hiking noob is attempting to hike the PCT starting April 8!

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