Well, tonight is my last night out on the beach for the year, hopefully. For the last 15 days, with a 2 day break in the middle, I have been hiking on the beach to start off my trail work on the California Coastal Trail. Each night I have been keeping regular trail notes in my journal, but I have also been jotting down notes about things I really enjoy about hiking on the beach and things I really do not enjoy about it.
I have one page of “enjoy” and three pages of “hate”… just to give you an idea of what I think about hiking on the beach.
The Not Fun List:
The top three things on the “hate” list:
(1) Beach sand in everything… thank God I did not bring a Sawyer filter on this hike… it would have probably never survived… another win for the SteriPen Freedom. My sleeping bag is probably going to have to get washed when I get back due to all the sand blowing all over it at night (did not use a double wall shelter.) My iPhone would have been destroyed and filled with sand in all its little holes if I had not had the foresight to put it into my otterbox armor case. The Kicker Valve on my Ultimate Direction water bottle died on the very first day from the beach sand… thankfully I had a smartwater bottle with me. oh, and I learned that if you drop a probar in beach sand… no matter how much water you use to try to get it clean… you will never ever have enough water… something about a probar and beach sand… they love each other.
(2) The noise… wow, just the constant pounding of the waves for hours and hours – all day long – it is just not possible to tone out the noise. Even with my $400 Ultimate Ears TripleFi’s (which, btw, are some of the finest earphones ever!) I cannot get the noise of the crashing waves out of my head. At home I usually have rain and thunder music playing in the background, never liked to have the beach sounds playing… this just re-enforces it all the much more.
(3) Cold nights… wozer does it get cold at night. The cold ocean air just blowing right in on you, and with the high moisture in the cold air, just really does get cold and sucks the warmth out of you at night. The last two nights my sleeping bag and clothes got pushed to and a bit beyond their limits. It feels worse than sleeping in snow weather.
The Fun List:
The top three things on the “enjoy” list:
(1) It is not has hard to get lost… as long as the ocean is on my right shoulder, I am good to go. (seriously, if you get lost hiking on the beach… you should just stay home)
(2) It is something different from what I am using to hiking on/through… odd as it may seem, and as beautiful as Redwoods might be… after awhile they all just sort of blur together. every so often there will be some monster of a tree that makes me go “wow” or a bit of redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana) – my favorite thing in the entire Redwoods – that just makes me stop and sit down and behold the beauty… but for the most part, it has all started just looking the same after the last few thousand miles. This has been my first time hiking on the beach, so a new thing for me.
(3) People. I have encountered more people in a single day on the beach then I do for weeks at a time out in the middle of nowhere-Redwoods. Yesterday there were these three hippy girls with guitars sitting and singing on the beach. The day before that was some USCG guy that was obviously in super awesome fitness… the dude past me three times… in each freaking direction… for probably four hours. Others I have encountered were vacationers from all over the country, lots of people on their mountain bikes, a few elk, and lots of dead things on the beach. Out in the Redwoods I can hike for over 200 miles and never see anything but a few birds. So, it was kind of neat to experience people while out hiking.
The Present & Future:
All in all my first 15 days of hiking on the beach, spread out over two different sections, have been a pretty insightful, interesting, and educational experience. There are things I have learned out here that in thousands of miles of hiking on regular trails, and off-country trails, that I have never learned – I will save sharing all of that for future articles… but there have been some really neat “wow, have not thought of that before” situations, mostly a result of having things happen to me for the first time.
It will be nice to get back home and shave my head so I can rid myself of all of this beach sand.
(topics for future article: dealing with constant sand on your feet, dealing with feet that are wet all day long, packing gear in such a way to minimize sand getting through everything in my pack, why I drink more water hiking on the beach than I do in death valley, the legalities of beach camping, and why people say “never turn your back on the ocean” when you do not actually walk with your back to the ocean… hmmm)
ps: thanks to those of you who have stayed up late and chatted with me on facebook at night the last few nights… I needed it.
In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that as of the day of publication of this article I am a sponsored hiker of Montbell America, Black Rock Gear, Suluk46 and Ultimate Direction.