Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The North Coast

Sometimes the hardest places to get to are those that are just outside our immediate reach. We visit the areas close to us often; we can get there and back in a day, a weekend is an easy trip. We make extensive plans to visit the far away lands that require flights and days devoted to travel. But the places that are in between, those where the travel time is half a day, get easily get overlooked. The north coast of California is one of those areas for me.

I've been there before, and enjoyed myself every time, but it's just hard to make the trip on an average weekend and not quite exotic enough to block out a week's worth of vacation time. But this time a three day weekend proved to be perfect.

A 4am departure time got us to Arcata while still morning. Early enough to paddle, but late enough that the winds had arisen. We decided that a hike would make for a more enjoyable afternoon and set out from one lagoon up and over to another. From a windswept beach, up and over through the redwoods, to a sheltered lunch spot and back. It's a beautiful landscape that's different than the rest of the state.

The next day we paddled. An early start got us to Trinidad before the wind and we enjoyed a loop around bay, out to an exposed rock in big swells, back into slightly protected rocks for some play, and out to the dubiously famous smackwall to get some more bouncing. With several other groups on the water people came and went, finding their own fun and passing each other with friendly greetings.

Having a third day ahead of us allowed us to enjoy a peaceful sunset on the second day, as well as some fine vegan  dining in Arcata and a starlit walk to end the day. It's often the non-paddling portions of a trip that turn it from a great adventure into a great time. There was as much fun had on dry land as on the water.

The third day arrived and we started with a surf session inside the harbor, with swells big enough to generate eight foot faces spilling and fading for a quarter mile. An ebb tide would have helped since we had to fight the flood to get back to the lineup, but it was rather nice to catch such long and fast rides with little consequence.

We even managed to split up the drive back with a short downriver session on the Sacramento river in Redding, catching dinner with even more friends. It made for a very full and very fun weekend; three days of sun, surf, and soaring vistas. The in between is worth a visit.

A few more pictures:

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