The Lost Coast…where is it?
Much has been written about the Lost Coast. It is a very popular section of the Northern California Pacific Coastline that very few people visit, but for those who do, they love it – myself included.
When I was in college at UC Davis back in the early 1990’s I used to go to the mouth of the Mattole river. The Mattole River is at the north end of the Lost Coast. To get to the beach head from US 101, you get off the U.S. 101 at the Garberville, South Fork/Honeydew, or Ferndale exits. Follow signs toward Petrolia, turn on Lighthouse Road to ocean. The Lighthouse Road exit is a left turn just before you get a bridge that crosses the Mattole River.
My travels used to take me down the Lighthouse Road for a little while until I could make a turn off the road onto a dirt road that put me onto the river bed. I camped on the river bed 4 times during my college days. Each year around Labor Day weekend I would make the trek to my spot on the river bed from Davis. I would take my dog, and my mountain bike and sleep in the back of my pickup truck.
Each year was a little different due to the changes to the river bed environment with erosion etc. The lagoon got bigger and bigger each year, and it was always something fun to snorkel and swim in as it got deeper and larger. Mountain biking in the river was something I tried one year. I was successful at it, but only did it once as the rocks pounded me too much. It was more work than fun.
One morning I was just finishing breakfast and I started hearing noises coming at me – truck noises. When I looked, I could see a white pickup leading the way and behind the pickup was 2 large construction dump trucks. It sure was odd to see these big vehicles driving on the riverbed in my direction. More odd was the the pickup actually drove to within about 50 feet of my campsite. The driver got out with a clipboard and a camera and started taking pictures of the trucks coming and the river.
The dump trucks pulled up very close to my campsite as well and started to dump huge redwood tree root balls on the riverbed. The gentleman from the white pickup took pictures of the root balls as they were dumped. I walked over about that time and made a joke about documenting dumping in the river. He retorted with sort of, but that the root balls were part of a fishery conservation project that was starting after the Labor Day weekend. They were going to be putting the root balls in the river to help form some eddies and pools for Salmon fry. The project was an efford to restore the Salmon fishery in the Mattole River.
Pretty soon the dumping was over and the guy in the white pickup said his goodbyes and that they would not be returning until Tuesday after Labor Day and that I should enjoy the rest of my weekend.
Other memories of the river are
- Hiking around the riverbed riparian areas and coming across cows – my 6 month old yellow lab puppy was sure tough barking at the cow from between my legs. Funny day.
- Sleeping under the stars
- Watching the fog roll in and over the mountains and then recede again.
- Getting rained out during the one time I thought I’d try camping during spring break. My girlfriend and I had decided to camp on the beach during spring break. Around 4 am a storm blew in and blew us out around 8 am. It was a wet windy departure from the beach that day. We ended up in a hotel in Garberville for that night.
- Driving through the Rockefeller Redwood Tree National Park to get to the Lost Coast from the 101. Many car commercials have been filmed on these roads.