This trip is rated Vigorous . Trip members should be capable of carrying a full backpack for up to 8 miles per day (up to 6 hours per day). Your backpack will weigh 35–40 pounds, which includes 5–10 pounds of group gear. The terrain can be rugged and may require some rock scrambling to negotiate. We will be crossing long stretches of soft sand and gravel with no established trail. There is a potential for stream crossings. This is not a beginning backpack trip. You must have experience backpacking and camping in remote locations.
Our trip begins today at the Sacramento REI store at 10am. Following an orientation and gear check, we load into our support van and drive to Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home of some of the world’s most majestic and ancient redwoods. We enjoy a short hike among these impressive trees, and then transfer to our campsite. Our guides prepare dinner and talk about the adventure ahead. Dinner included.
Transfers: 6 hours
We load our backpacks with our personal gear and a portion of the group gear, then transfer a short distance to the trailhead. We begin our hike on sand, dotted with colorful ice plant and other coastal flora. The sand gives way to beach pebbles and bits of trail on solid ground as we near the Punta Gorda Lighthouse. Build in 1910 after a number of fatal shipwrecks off this rocky coast, this lighthouse is one of the few signs of civilization that we encounter on our adventure. Continuing our hike, we cross a rocky stretch to an overland detour around an impassable rock outcrop. Our short detour will afford us spectacular vistas up and down the rugged coastline, and we may see elephant seals. Tonight we camp at Cooksie Creek. All meals included.
Transfer: 30 minutes; Backpacking: 6.3 miles
Our backpacking trip continue south across cobbles and coarse black sand until we reach a grassy terrace. We pay close attention to the timing of the tides since high tide renders stretches of coastline along our route impassable. Our goal is to reach Big Creek campsite by midafternoon, leaving us free to explore, comb the beach or find a quiet spot to kick back with a book and enjoy the solitude. All meals included.
Backpacking: 7 miles
We hike through thickets of twisted pine trees and cross several creeks on our way to camp at Gitchell Creek. This stretch of coastline is particularly lush, with several springs pouring from the mountainside and onto the sand, sustaining hanging wildflower gardens bright with monkey flower and other water-loving plants. This stretch of coast is particularly dramatic, with mountains and forest dropping precipitously down to the beach. All meals included.
Backpacking: 7.6 miles
We hike across wide sandy beaches to our van waiting at Black Sands Beach. We stop to purchase lunch en route (own expense). We expect to arrive in Sacramento by 6pm, though this may vary depending on trail and road conditions, group pace and weather. Breakfast included.
Transfers: 5 hours; Backpacking: 3.7 miles.