We get up early and are packed and fed by daybreak. The ocean is softly calling from outside the inlet. Hiking down the beach is not just a walk on the beach. We are walking over rocks of all sizes. The tide break area seems to be the firmest, and we walk that when we can. Other times, we are pushed down by the tidal pools with the rough larger wetter rocks. The going is slow and tricky. The ocean and mountains are peaceful. Excitement for being in this place spurs us on.
We know that at some point we are going to have to get up on the bluff, but don’t see where the trail is. When we pass what looks like an elephant rock, we know that we have to get up soon or climb a cliff. But we see nothing indicating a path up. We keep trudging on the rocks and sand. Down by the surf, there are shells, bones, and starfish. Pretty soon the water is getting higher on the beach; we are going to run out of beach soon if we keep going. And I don’t relish climbing a cliff with a pack.
There is a point out into the ocean where the bluff comes in low to the beach. This seems like the best place for us to go up. As we approach, we see a slight trail going up and onto the bluff that we take. Not far away are some logs in a square with a fire ring in the middle. We take a snack break there. I find that I am hungry. This is new to me on the trail. We sit and drink water and eat and talk, and just before we leave, I remember to stretch out. That is what we are doing when we spy a group of people coming down a hill on a trail back the way we came. How did we miss that?
They passed us and went to a low spot where they dumped their gear and climbed down to the beach. As we continued on our way, they were enjoying a snack. At one point, we stop to take pictures and look back the way we came. One of the people who passed us is dancing naked in the surf. The trail turns inland, and we plow through a poison oak field with me in the lead. I have a tendency to look right at my feet as we walk trying not to trip and fall over myself. I keep reminding myself to be observant and to look around. Apparently I don’t look around enough because Damazon speaks to me. I stop to see what he said, when it dawns on me. “Snake,” he said, “Snake.” It was right there in front of me. If I had taken another step or two, I would have tread on it. Why does this keep happening? I freeze for a moment. “Is it a rattlesnake?” We’ve been warned that they are out there. This snake is laying in the trail looking right at me not moving, not flicking its tongue, not appearing alive. “I don’t know,” Damazon replies as he and I switch places. I feel guilty for making him be the brave one, but if it were left up to me, we would stay there until the snake moved on. Damazon uses his pole to gently nudge the snake. It lifts its head, turns back around and slithers off. This is when the tail becomes visible as it proudly shows off its six buttons. Definitely a rattlesnake. When it is completely in the brush, we move on down the trail. I am still amazed that the snake never struck at the pole or rattled its tail.
Relief floods me when we are finally out of the poison oak. We wind up and over, and in and out until we reach a creak to cross. This one has rocks to step across. On the other side we stop for a break and to talk to a father and son who were on the shuttle with us. They made it this far the day before. We talk about some of the rougher places and what we did to get beyond them. Then we carry on.
We are on and off the beach for a while. The hiking is good, but I am getting physically tired. Toward the end of the day, I see an orange looking flag and realize that we are walking on the landing strip that I had seen in several videos. This was a private runway and up ahead was a beautiful home and a couple of other buildings with a groomed yard that was being watered at the time. We saw other homes and private property along the way, but this was the first one that actually looked lived in. The runway was dirt with three grooves making the path that we walked on and that ferried the owners in and out. At the end, the trail veered off toward a big flat low spot with a lot of drift wood. We took a break there. Then we realize that we are close to the beach and creek we wanted to camp at. We get up to find us a spot for the night. It was closer than we thought. Right on the other side of the slight rise was the very rocky creek. One tent stood in the only clearing we saw near the creek. Well, we thought, we might as well stay right where we are in the sand; at least it was clear of all the rocks. We dropped to the ground as we dropped our packs. Covering my face with my hat, I immediately fell asleep. But I saw a new world upon awakening. Brushing the sand off my face and getting a clear look around, I notice that in the trees on the other side of the creek there indeed was what looked like a campground. There was no brush and surprisingly no people. We gather up, glad that we didn’t set up yet, and cross the creek. Sure enough, there was a trail cleared of rock from the creek to the camp spot and under the trees were cleared as well. Someone had made benches, rooms (sort of), and even “Cal’s love shack.” We set up and had a quiet evening eating our dinner watching the sun set on the ocean, and in the dusk deer came into camp to eat at the plants.