Monday, October 12, 2015

Coastal Trail and West Ridge Trail

Monday: (10/12) Lou made biscuits and gravy for breakfast. About 1020 they dropped me off on the North end of the park at the Coastal Trail trailhead.

Prarie Creek Coastal & West Ridge Trails 1012150737_HDR Prarie Creek Coastal & West Ridge Trails 1012151147a
I hiked down about half a mile to the beach and immediately began to wonder about today’s plan. There wasn’t much beach just a lot of water and waves, a bluff and some rocks. I tried to get by on the bluff side of a lagoon but couldn’t get past some rocks on the far side. Fortunately there was a sand bar on the ocean side of the lagoon with the high tide waves occasionally rolling over the top. I didn’t really count waves and got about half way across as I noticed a bigger wave coming in which rolled a bunch of water over the top. I didn’t make it back before the wave got my shoes wet, about 6 inches deep. OK, no need to worry about wading now.
Prarie Creek Coastal & West Ridge Trails 1012151154 Prarie Creek Coastal & West Ridge Trails 1012151156
The rest of the 1.5 miles of similar beach were no longer a concern. I stayed close to the bluff, scouted for a high ground escape path and dodged waves and rocks. Note to self, check the tide charts before taking this trail again. When I reached the South end of the bluffs and there was some higher ground, I climbed up the 10 feet to the high ground beach prairie only to find myself almost in the middle of an elk herd, All the does scattered off up the hill but the bull was giving me a look that concerned me. I scampered off South away from the heard and mean looking bull elk. Shades of an experience I had a number of years back when a bull elk made me run for the cover of a tiny tree. No trees around this beach.
Prarie Creek Coastal & West Ridge Trails 1012151220b Prarie Creek Coastal & West Ridge Trails 1012151223
Another mile South and I was at the West Ridge trailhead. Just before I arrived at the trailhead I heard coyote calls. They continued long enough for me to get my phone out and record the sounds as I did the last 1/8 mile to the trailhead. (I since managed to loose the recording) I had been following what I thought were coyote footprints on the beach as I came down the trail. This part of the West Ridge Trail was the wettest part of my hike a couple of days ago. I repeated about 2 miles of the same trail today. It wasn’t as wet today because of no rain. Still a little wet due to fog and dew.
Prarie Creek Coastal & West Ridge Trails 1012151307a_HDR Prarie Creek Coastal & West Ridge Trails 1012151557
I came down off the West Ridge Trail on the Zig Zag #2 trail to connect with the Prairie Creek Trail that follows the creek back to camp. But, at the bottom of the Zig Zag #2 trail where it connects with the Creek Trail, there was a crew working on a bridge and a sign that said “Trail Closed”. Being a good boy, and because I have been complaining about how little maintenance they seem to be doing on the park trails, I stayed off the trail and walked about a mile on the park road and connected back to the Prairie Creek trail at Zig Zag #1 Trail. I had forgotten how nice this area is even though it is right near the roadway passing along the creek through magnificent redwoods. I made it back to camp about 1630. A 14.3 mile hike today. Lou and Dawn were off to Arcata today. Dawn found a potential job in Arcata that they are going to check on. I had a ham and cheese sandwich for dinner.

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