The California Coastal Trail Has Begun! Day 1, 2 and a Heartbreaking Decision on Day 3

Let’s get this party started!

I’ve decided that I want this hike to be a positive recharge of my life. So each day I will start my hikes with a positive quote. Thus far, I have been truly blessed in my life. It has been an amazing journey and I have so many special people in my life! The first being my mom! What an Angel! She has always believed in me. ( I’m not sure if she is overjoyed with this adventure hahaha but she loves me and just wants to make sure I am safe.) Sometimes, I don’t tell her about my adventures until I come back so she won’t worry, but this adventure will take too long to keep a secret. Mom, I love you so much. Don’t worry, everything always works out.

Day 1 We’re off! 9.5 miles

Day 1 quote. The first step… shall be to lose the way. Galway Kinnel

Excitedly, we are starting our adventure. Everything is ready, everything is set and we are ready to go. Karl picked us up to take us to the Oregon border. What an interesting man. He has lived in a ton of countries, is a true adventurer and so interesting to talk to. After hearing his stories I truly feel he should write a book.

So, where exactly is the start?

At first, the trail was pretty hard to find, but it is very close to the Welcome to California sign. The path was a little overgrown, but we found it. Eventually, the path led out to the ocean, and that is where are journey begins! Oh so pretty!

There is so much history in just the first 4 1/2 miles of the CCT. It seemed like it was low tide so we had no problem walking on the beach. My dog Piper was loving it! What a truly beautiful day to start this adventure.

Mile 1 Done!

Only another 1199 miles to go but whose counting hahaha!

At the tail end we did have to find a way to scramble up to the bluffs because the the tide was getting higher and there was no way to hike around to get to the mouth of the Smith River.

The Smith River

Wow, the Smith River is amazing!

If you look really close at the picture above there are a ton of harbor seals sunning themselves on the other side of the river. Too cool!

Karl Waiting for us With Kayaks

Karl picked us up and we kayaked with Nick across the Smith River. He even had a life jacket for my dog. What a kind man. If you need anything while visiting the Smith River I am sure that Karl can find a way to help!

Free Like the Wind

The beauty of this next section is that my dog could run free. Karl told me that there would be no one over on the other side of the Smith River and he was right. She was having a blast!

Upper 70s

Up north, when I had checked the weather it never seemed to get above 70, but today it did.  We were following the river and it was so fun, but then the brush got too heavy. We then hiked more closer to the ocean in a thicket and sand kind of area. The issue we had was it was rather a hot day and my dogs feet were hot. I taped her feet up with vet tape and then duck taped them. It seemed to work. We later went over the side and walked along the coast were it was cooler. We went back to the thicket area to stealth camp. It ended up being a really nice night. Day 1 done 9.5 miles

Day 2.  13.66 miles

Quote – you are braver than you think and stronger than you think.

As for the hike, once we got ready to go  I got a little turned around but we bushwhacked to a trail. Omg the trail turned into a dirt road and it had so many mosquitos. They were all over me. Later, I finally got smart and put on my sweatshirt. That helped a lot. What was crazy is that I had no bites. Being older may have helped me as my skin is thicker. I’m from the generation that didn’t use suntan lotion. Hahaha (not so funny really).

Which way to go?

I decided not to go the beach route because it goes around Lake Earl and I was told that sometimes they breach it and it may be impassable. I did not want to walk all that way and then have to come back. Water was a little tricky to find because there were so many mosquitoes near the ponds on the way. It was very difficult to get to. We did find water later from a stream. I have a Sawyer filter and it worked great.

Lake Earl Drive

We took the alternate route. We took Lake Earl Drive and then 101 into Crescent City. It had a very wide bike trail for most of the road that made it easy to walk. We camped at an RV tent park very near the ocean. We went 13.6 miles. I set up the tent and we both took a long nap. Later that evening I took Piper to the river near the beach. She loves the water. She was having a blast.

Day 3. Quote – You never know until you try.

This is a necessary but heartbreaking decision for me. I have decided to take my dog back home and do this adventure alone. She is my buddy and we have had an amazing, although short, adventure. Unfortunately, there were a few factors that I could not ignore:

  1. Northern California is very different than Southern California. I have really been thinking about the different types of wildlife here, and to be honest, I am worried about my dog’s safety. I was reading an article about how wild animals will pick up a dog’s scent and stalk them. I feel it is not fair for me to put animals and my dog in this position. I was also speaking to a man who lives in this area and has a dog named Snickers. He told me he feels the same way. He feels like when he takes his dog for short hikes he is being watched. (Are we both crazy?)
  2. Water on the trail. Some of these hikes coming up are pretty long. Just in the easy hikes I had issues making sure I had enough water for her. For me, I can conserve, but my dog would not understand this idea.
  3. Her paws are always a concern to me. I spoke to a guy this morning who told me his niece was going to walk the Oregon Coast and they had to stop because of her dog’s paws.
  4. This trail is not a well established trail and it might be a bit of trial and error to figure it out. I know I can get myself out of situations, but having a dog with no car and a way to leave a situation is a little scary for me. For example, if I get to a place where I can’t go on because there is no trail. I can just hop on a bus. It is not guaranteed they would let her on. She is my little Sunshine and I just don’t feel safe continuing on with her.

So for the next couple days I will be off the trail taking her to my mom’s. I know she will be happy there.

I’m glad I gave it a shot with her. I know now better her strengths. Just these past days I can see how she loves to be in the ocean and rivers. Watch out next summer because we are going to have some fun!  Car Glamping! Hahaha!

Good night Baby girl! You did good!

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Comments 11

  • Livia Wyant : Jun 10th

    I’m routing for you all the way, Shelly! I think you made a loving decision to take Piper to your Mom’s. I know it will be lonely without her but you will have much better chances on your own. Best of luck when you return to the trail!! Be safe and have fun. 😍

  • Seashell : Jun 10th

    Livia, thank you so much for your encouragement. You are always a positive light In my life and I know all you meet. Miss ya!!!

  • Ruth Allen : Jun 10th

    Hey Seashell,
    What an adventure!
    I can’t wait to read all about it.
    You are such an inspiration for me 💜.
    Praying for beauty along the way, your safety, and endurance.

    • Seashell : Jun 10th

      Hey Chip, thanks for the positive juju!!! I love seeing your beautiful family on Facebook!!! Have a wonderful summer!!!

  • Esperanza Avina : Jun 12th

    Piper is lucky to have such a loving person looking after her. You have already seen so much beauty and experienced so much in just a few days on the trail and now you get to do it again! 😎

    • Seashell : Jun 12th

      Hey Avina, love your positive vibes. I will be back on the trail tomorrow!!!

  • Lisa Frederick : Jun 14th

    Wow, Shelly!!! Such excitement! Thank you so much for sharing your adventure. Beautiful pictures, positive writing… I’m loving it. Enjoy, stay safe, and I’ll be trying to keep up with you, too! Looking forward to the rest.

    • Seashell : Jun 14th

      Hey good to hear from you!!! Have a great summer!!!

  • Mark L Lane : Jun 14th

    Just checked the website, your actually doing it…way to go….not packing heat?…If you need anything, I have family in the Arcata/Eureka area…Phone 7606414741…good luck, we are off to London on the 18th…I will keep checking on your trek….Lane

    • Seashell : Jun 14th

      Hey good to hear from you!!! Have a great summer!!!

    • Seashell : Jun 14th

      Hey Lane, yep I’m doing it. Just today I was talking with motorcycle you tuber. That sounds fun. You should be a you tuber for your motorcycle trips. Have fun in London!!! Say hi to the King for me!!!


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