travel

The Lost Boys

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I had heard of it for years. Ever since I started roaming up and down the California coastline people talked about the area. ‘Have you ever been? You should go…’ I had never been nor knew much of it, but recently a couple friends of mine talked about making the trek. North to south. They wanted to hike the 25 miles of rugged coastline with gear and surfboards on their backs in hopes to get away and score some waves. They called it “The Lost coast,” as there were no direct roads that ventured there. When they built highway one years ago they had to divert the road inland 30 miles due to the treacherous landscape of the area. This, without mankind’s footprint, made for beautiful stretches of pristine beaches and naturally provided a home to a multitude of wildlife that freely roam the land including black bear and a family of elk. This truly was one of the last wild frontiers left on this continent where one could get away and get lost for a while.

Although I had never been on any sort of overnight backpacking hike, I immediately asked If I could join them. I knew it would be rough but figured I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, it may never come again Right? I trusted my friend for this type of adventure. They had a lot more experience than I did and had just recently climbed mount Whitney with ice picks. I thought “well if there’s anyone I would wanna go on this trip with, it’s these two.” They had all the equipment, I had nothing. I owned a backpack and some camping essentials but as far as boots and an actual overnight long-distance hiking pack I had nothing. It wasn’t climbing a mountain with ice picks, but I had heard of the miles and miles of unforgiving terrain and with a 30 pound back and surfboard strapped to my back I knew it was going to be a big test of my will and mind.  I decided to use my head and do as much research as possible to prepare my head for the trip. I asked friends and spent hours searching google. To my surprise there wasn’t much. This worried me a bit, why weren’t more people doing it? Supposedly there was possibility of surf along the way, but was it worth lugging a board 25 miles just to find out? I quickly found out the hard part wasn’t so much the weight of your board, but the fact that it acts like a sail when the winds pick up, which is often. Besides finding that out, I read another article that highly recommended against beginner hikers attempting the feat. What the hell was I getting myself into? I said aw screw it and stayed on board.

I began gathering my things that I did have, and reached out to a few companies for the things I didn’t. Teva gave me a pair of hiking boots that worked really well for the trek. Surf Durt gave us surf screen for our face and Bare Essientials hooked us up with sunscreen for the long miles under the sun. Everything else I had or borrowed.

My gear list looked something like this

6’2” G&S single fin surfboard

4/3 patagonia wetsuit

Large Coleman backpack

Sleeping pad

Sleeping bag

Minimal cooking gear ( the food and cooking items were shared between all 3 of us)

1/3 of the food ( mostly dehydrated meals and snacks )

Cannon ae-1 film camera & 4 rolls of film

A knife

Sunscreen

Small first aid kit

One pair of pants, one pair of boardshorts, three tee shirts, one long sleeve button up, a crewneck, three pairs of socks, a beanie and a hat.

A water bottle and filter. ( To keep filled with filtered spring water along the way )


 

My friends-I met Ryder and Mario at their place in Encinitas and we planned on leaving early morning the next day. We cruised out before the sun rose to beat the always gnarly LA traffic and made pretty good headway our first day making it all the way up to San Francisco. This was as far as we could make it so we stopped at a buddy’s and crashed on the floor for the night. The next day we woke early and made the next stretch towards Mattole Beach, the beginning of the Lost Coast hike. Fifteen hours of drive time later, we pulled into a small dirt parking lot near the beach with a flat tire and began unloading our gear. We decided to fix the tire right there and then because we all knew there was no way we were going to want to fix it right after a four-day hike.

At this point in the story I’m going to let you in on the fact that at this time, we had no clue on how we would return to our car after we ended our 25-mile journey south of where we started. We talked about hitch hiking back up, but didn’t know how much traffic went through the area or how easy it would be if we got back super late one night. We knew of a shuttle that picks up hikers and brings them back north but our stingy asses were hesitant on making a pickup request as we knew they charged $80 per person. Deciding to take our chances and wing it, we double checked our gear and shoved last minute items into any place we could find space and took our first few steps toward the beach.  We all knew at this point there was no turning back, we were on our way to becoming conquerors of the “Lost Coast.”

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The first hour of walking we quickly understood the harshness of the elements we would be living with for the next four days. Between the heat of the sun, the ever-changing ground beneath our feet and the high winds that thankfully pushed at our backs, we knew it was going to be a real test of will.

On a positive note, we were surrounded by beauty, we had each other, water, food and high spirits. The three of us were born for adventure. It runs through our blood and we all felt calm knowing that with each of our skill sets, we could pretty much figure out anything that came along, as long as nobody got hurt.

After trekking six hours our first day, getting lost, stopping for smoke and snack breaks along the way, we made our first camp at a spot above sea level called “Sea Lion Gultch.” Or as I like to call it, “Monster Bay.” All we could hear all night was the monstrous roars of the male sea lions that would have kept any kid up with the assumption that they were soon to be devoured. Somehow, we slept soundly and woke up to an amazing sunrise that truly made us feel alive and rejuvenated. We broke down camp, filled our water bottles at the stream just below, and made our way further south. One of the biggest threats and challenges of this trip was making sure we had plenty of time to cross the “impassable zones.” There was plenty of fair warning and we knew of the danger if we happened to get trapped in one of these high tide zones. We always made sure to give ourselves plenty of time to make it though while the tide was low.

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Day 2.

Making it through one of the biggest impassible zones on the hike, we began nearing our second camp at Spanish Flats, a wide-open flat area with driftwood sprawled about everywhere. We found a man-made driftwood fort and decided to use it as a home for the night. We beat the mid-day heat by trying to surf although the lack of waves, thick wetsuits, and freezing cold water made for a unique experience. So far, it wasn’t the surf adventure we had hoped it may be. Although our legs and bodies were tired and beat by the sun, we remained positive, eased our muscles with whisky and smoke, enjoyed the wild landscape surrounding us and trekked further south the next morning.

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Day 3.

This was by far one of the toughest days for us. The winds were pushing us in all directions, not at our backs like the first two days. Our legs and shoulders were tired and beat and we were running low on food. All we wanted to do was make it to our next camp where we knew there was a possibility of decent surf. We took a lot of small breaks getting there, even stopping for a swim in a stream along the way, finally making it to “Big Flat.”

Arriving early in the day, we knew we were there by the topography of the land. It was big, and flat, and there was ten times more driftwood scattered about than any place we had passed before. Wild deer were seen peacefully grazing here and there, they were some of the first wildlife we had seen other than the sea lions and a rattlesnake that was just trying to hide from the heat. At this point in the trip, we only ran into a few other hikers, making it easy to pick and choose were we wanted to set up camp. Being that nobody was around when we arrived we found the biggest driftwood fort around and made ourselves at home. We quickly unpacked our gear and made our way to the swimming hole that sits just above the ocean. Taking a dip and relaxing our muscles we soon saw other hikers arriving from the north and south. One of the first few people we met was a young father and son who were hiking south to north, the opposite of us. We greeted them and began chatting about the beauty of this place. They mentioned they were a family of avid hikers and had done this section previously. During conversation, I mentioned our predicament about not knowing how we were getting back to our car. At one point while chatting, I chirped up and said “we should give you our keys and you give us yours!” It seemed like a logical idea although at this point we were all strangers. There was no way some random person was going to give us his keys to drive his car 2 hours back to the start of the trail. Or was there?

We ended the conversation and made our way back to the fort to head out for a surf. There were small waves peeling but we had no clue if they were breaking because of shallow rock or reef. Deciding to find out, I made my way down to the shore and ran into the father and son again. The father quickly spoke up and said, “you know what, I’ve been thinking about what you were saying, I think you guys should take my car keys and drive back up to your car. You can just hide the keys around my car somewhere and that way we have our car when we finish up and you guys can get back to your car.” I was so taken back by the kind gesture of this man that I totally forgot to even mention it to Ryder and Mario until hours later. After the numbing and sketchy surf over a rocky coastline at low tide we unsuited and began making dinner. I finally mentioned, “Oh guys! Great news! I completely forgot to tell you this but that guy said we can take his car!”

Of course, the boys were stoked and we felt comfort in knowing the outcome of our previous dilemma. We made our way over to their camp and grabbed the keys to a newer BMW, thanking them over and over for being so trusting. After exchanging information, we headed back to lay our heads down for a good night’s rest. I have never felt so much pain in my legs as I did that evening and worried if my body could handle the long stretch to the finish, but thankfully I slept well under the stars that night and woke the next morning fully rested and ready to keep moving south.

 

Day 4.

On our last day we awoke early at the glimpse of sunlight peaking over the tree covered mountain side. Packing up our things and saying goodbye to our driftwood fort we started on our final section south to Shelter Cove. After three days of hiking, our bodies had taken a beating. It was the hottest day of the trip; our minds were strong but no one was acting tough anymore. We took lots of little breaks in between long miles of sand and shared the last few sips of whisky and snacks with a few other hikers we met that day. After a long 8 miles of walking on sand we finally made it to Shelter Cove. It was the ending point for us but thankfully had been the beginning for the father and son, which proved great for us knowing we had a car waiting in the parking lot above the beach.

Although we were finished with the 25-mile hike, we knew we still had a long drive home to San Diego. We stayed with friends on the way back down, some in Santa Cruz and some in Los Angeles. We all felt that this adventure wouldn’t have been possible without good people helping us along the way. With that in mind, we offered to give the few people that completed the hike with us a ride back north to Mattole Beach in the BMW that wasn’t ours. We knew the owner wouldn’t mind, he would appreciate the ongoing kindness. As soon as we delivered the car and got ours back, we texted him and thanked him for his generosity. It was an amazing way to end such an epic journey and we couldn’t wait to see and share the photos and stories from our adventure along the Lost Coast.

Words and Film photography by Dylan Bellingan.

SOUTHBOUND AND DOWN.

It had been almost six months since the last Baja adventure, so with the new arrival of the Spring/Summer collection and a willing group of friends we headed south for a few days to shoot the new line and have some fun.  The initial plan was that there would be around twenty of us, or more; a mix of surfers, rock climbers and photographers. We would also be trekking about four hours past the border - this wasn’t going to be a little trip down to La Fonda. The main issue with a huge crew like that is the amount of vehicles you need to take. It’s easy to get lost down there and you can't rely on your GPS to get you around. You need a traditional paper map of Baja or the know-how to get down to these places. 

Loading up in the morning with gear.  

Loading up in the morning with gear.  

 

We packed up the vans and trucks and headed to the local grocery store for the essentials. Once we packed the rigs with food, water, wood, and beer we left the parking lot with a convoy of four vehicles and nine people. The rest would be meeting us there later that evening. Nearing the border, we tried to keep the group together as we approached the border crossing. Every vehicle ( three vans and one truck ) was pulled into secondary inspection with the signaled wave of a border patrol officer - something we have become oddly used to. Steve’s black truck was briefly looked over and cleared and then our van was cleared to go shortly after. Steve quickly drove off and got away from the border crossing as fast as he could while we waited for our friends. While waiting, another guard came by and gestured for us to go into another inspection where they drive your van up onto a huge scanning machine. “Señor we have already been cleared, we are just waiting on our amigos.” He didn’t care and slapped a piece of paper onto our windshield. Our friends we were waiting for had just been cleared to go but because they had no idea where they were going they just followed us onto the line for the scanner. It ended up being that we were given the green light to go but because we waited around for the others, 3 out of the 4 vehicles in the convoy went through this large machine for no reason. This will be the last time we wait for a vehicle while already being cleared to go. Half an hour later we all made it through and found Steve and his girlfriend Maria waiting patiently for us just outside the border on the Mexico side. This is something we wished we had also done but hey, you live and you learn especially in Mexico. 

Patiently waiting for Matt's van to make it through a checkpoint while the Military searched for weed. According to the partner of the hefty fellow doing all the searching , "he jus lookiiing for weed, he needs to smoke he es having a bad day." All parties knew Matt's van didn't have anything in it so this situation was quite relaxed and humorous.  

Patiently waiting for Matt's van to make it through a checkpoint while the Military searched for weed. According to the partner of the hefty fellow doing all the searching , "he jus lookiiing for weed, he needs to smoke he es having a bad day." All parties knew Matt's van didn't have anything in it so this situation was quite relaxed and humorous.  

 

The first stop would obviously be for tacos and beer, something that stays pretty constant while we’re down there. We all made it to La Fonda and quickly cracked a few cold ones while walking over to the two taco stands. I snapped a few shots on my digital and film camera while we were hanging out and eating however the lighting sucked, so my attention quickly turned back to more tacos and another beer. After the grub-down and much needed stop we made the long trek to our coastal destination about three hours further down highway. We passed through the bustling towns, through the mountains and green wine country of Baja California and then slowly back towards the coast. Finally, we made the right turn down the bumpy dirt road we knew would deliver us to our camp. Ben, who was driving his van and letting me ride along as co-pilot, asked me to take the wheel while he put his new drone up in the air for some footage. “Stop, stop, stop, I lost it. You have to reverse.” I heard this three or four times while making our way down the dusty road. Every time I would start backing up slowly until the drone finally found connection to the control, a really funny thing to watch as my good friend kept loosing and then finding his new toy. 

Taco line. Shot by contributing artist Tyler Annalora. 

Taco line. Shot by contributing artist Tyler Annalora. 

Bienvenidos. Shot by contributing artist Tyler Annalora. 

Bienvenidos. Shot by contributing artist Tyler Annalora. 

Drive by shooting. 

Drive by shooting. 

When in Mexico. Michael and Colby were a new addition to the group and we couldn't be any more stoked to now call them friends. Shot by Frank Feena. 

When in Mexico. Michael and Colby were a new addition to the group and we couldn't be any more stoked to now call them friends. Shot by Frank Feena. 

Michael taking care of business after a few cold ones. 

Michael taking care of business after a few cold ones. 

Respect the locals. 

Respect the locals. 

An hour later we saw the blue hues of the ocean and knew we were getting close to our desolate desintation. We arrived at our usual spot shortly after, but then quickly decided to relocate further up the hill because of the high winds. We passed through the small fishing village that is an occasional seasonal home to a few families, passed the lighthouse and then made our way to a clearing near the edge of the cliffside. There is nothing out there except for the small fishing village and a very odd cult like “layer” that looks more like a theme park owned by TVIND further south in the distance. We pointed our binoculars that direction a few times to get a closer look at the weirdness but couldn’t see much except the colorful rooftops. 

Looking south from the top of the lighthouse. 

Looking south from the top of the lighthouse. 

Once our camp was set up, ( a mixture of tents and camper vans ) I began to work on the fire as the evening was nearing an end. We took to the Tecate’s and things got weird pretty quickly. After an amazing meal of stew, potatoes and chicken cooked over the open fire, we all began making our way to our temporary sleeping quarters and hit the hay after a long day of travel. 

Ben's camper van set up. Both images shot on film by Tyler Annalora. 

Ben's camper van set up. Both images shot on film by Tyler Annalora. 

I woke up early the next morning to the light as it began peeking over the hill. Everyone else was still sleeping so I used the time to walk around and snap a few photos as the day was beginning to start. I ended up going back to sleep after a while and waking up once I heard the others start to rise.

Morning light, looking south. 

Morning light, looking south. 

After a healthy breakfast of Tecate’s and fruit, we looked at the surf and decided to head out even though the conditions were meager. We realized the other group of friends who were supposed to be meeting us hadn’t arrived yet and so we assumed they were most likely not showing up. The three surfers out of the group ( Ben, Steve, and myself ) suited up and walked through the fishing village and down to the boat launch where it was easier to get around the rocks and into the break. Although offshore, the winds were high and waves tiny. Every wave I tried to take off on I would just get slapped in the face with cold water as the winds forced spray over the tops of the waves. It was frustrating. Steve and I decided to paddle all the way around the point to another point further north but had no luck there either. Eventually we made our way back a bit defeated but still stoked. The surf sucked but we were still having an epic time in a gorgeous and desolate place with some of our best friends. Nothing could take that away from us. 

Scouting locations for our new SURF CLUB. Shot by Tyler Annalora. 

Scouting locations for our new SURF CLUB. Shot by Tyler Annalora. 

The walk down to the boat launch. Shot by Frank Feena. 

The walk down to the boat launch. Shot by Frank Feena. 

Steve about to get a little barrel. The only good wave all day perhaps. Shot by contributing artist Tyler Annalora. 

Steve about to get a little barrel. The only good wave all day perhaps. Shot by contributing artist Tyler Annalora. 

The bay. Shot by Tyler Annalora. 

The bay. Shot by Tyler Annalora. 

 

That evening while getting lifestyle shots for the new line we made friends with  some of the young kids that were in the village. They were stoked to see us out there , camping, surfing and flying a drone around which I am sure was a first for them. We ended up giving them all sunglasses that day, a sure way to make friends for life in Mexico.

Steve doing hoodrat shit. Shot by contributing artist Frank Feena. 

Steve doing hoodrat shit. Shot by contributing artist Frank Feena. 

Off to look for waves. Shot by Frank Feena. 

Off to look for waves. Shot by Frank Feena. 

Local kids in their Nectar Sunglasses. 

Local kids in their Nectar Sunglasses. 

After a dinner consisting of tacos filled with whatever leftovers we had, we began lighting dead cactus trees on fire and whirling them around and then finally off the cliffside into the ocean. I am still not sure what they are, resembling a Joshua Tree like and stubby palm tree, but they catch a blaze very easily once dead and are very fun to hurl around in the night sky. Just don’t try this in the United States. 

 

We woke early that next day and began packing up our camp, there was nothing good as far as the surf was concerned so we decided to slowly make our way back up north while eating a few roadside snacks along the way. When the surf sucks in Mexico you can always bank on finding food that doesn’t. After filling up on tacos and tamales, we got ready for the trek back to the border. We decided to avoid the border crossing we came in on and go through another route; a wise move on our part which saved us a good hour or two. All four vehicles made it back with zero issues, it seems it’s easier to get back into the States than to get into Mexico, at least for us American’s. Our bellies were full, eyes heavy, and bodies drained of energy from the past few days, feelings that are only cured by long naps, lot’s of water and healthy food. 

 

Mexico seems to always take so much out of us, but after a few day’s back we all quickly realize how much joy and experience we get out of each and every trip. All different, all exciting, all scary at times and all filled with zero regret. 

 

 

 

 

Words and uncredited images by Dylan Bellingan.