Dirtbag Diaries: Lost Coast, Northern California


Craig: Chuck Graham and I had been talking about paddling and surfing the Lost Coast for two years, and then everything came together: time, weather and a nice little combo swell. We paddled from Westport almost up to Shelter Cove in five days.

Dave: Before we left on the trip, Craig was telling me stories about him and Chuck paddling the Channel Islands National Park, and since Craig is the Energizer Bunny on speed, I was worried. When we launched, Chuck and Craig powered ahead, leaving me behind, working my ass off trying to catch up through thick bull kelp and the slalom course of rock outcroppings. Then we pulled up on a little beach and found that I was taking on water. I fixed that and was all good from there.

Craig: I had a rogue wave come in and pummel me while I was out of my boat taking a break. A quick scurry and a grab and I was back with my boat. Luckily the wave didn’t damage anything or I would’ve been swimming back to Fort Bragg.

Dave: We strapped our surfboards on our kayaks instead of dragging them for good reason. First, launching off the beach, you don’t want your surfboard to flip over and act as an anchor. Plus paddling around rocks and going through kelp would suck while trying to tow a board. And don’t forget about the big fish you might be luring, especially cruising around the Sea Lion Rock area. That’s a pit stop for at least one whitey shark a day.

Craig: We ended up camping south of Bear Harbor, and like its name implied, I knew we had a chance of encountering some black bears. Sure enough, as we scoured the beach, bear tracks were all over the place. This was the first time I had to mentally deal with something like that.

Dave: There were bear tracks everywhere! When we looked above our camp you could tell their dens were a few hundred yards away. We were prepared for just about everything but bears. So before we went to sleep or left camp for the day, we made sure we packed away our food. We ate oatmeal with bananas and honey, energy bars, trail mix, and I caught fish, which we ate with rice and potatoes.

Craig: I really didn’t expect much in terms of surf, but we were treated to a surprise. All the conditions came together nicely, which can be the case in the fall, not too big for the beaches and not too small either. There are known spots on that stretch of coast, but I really wanted to steer clear of them and find what else was on offer. We scored some fun waves.
-With Craig Comen and Dave Neira, as told to Chuck Graham

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