Great Western Loop: Day 166 - 168: Shelter Cove to Ft. Bragg
Day 166: Rollercoaster (29miles)
The night at the campground had been a bit uncomfortable. After eating a burger at the local brewery I felt really bad and went straight into my tent.
Several times throughout the night a skunk tried to steal my food. We fought for quite a while, but than I eventually (accidentally...) kicked the skunk's nose and it disappeared for good.
From the coast, I initially followed a road and than reconnected with the southern part of the Coastal Trail. It was a rather steep climb of some 2500ft that didn't really provide great views, but hiking through a forest was much easier than hiking through soft sand.
The trail than followed a succession of steep climbs and descents over the next 20miles. After each climb the trail lead to another secluded beach with often great ocean views.
My plan was to get as close as possible to Usal beach, but after talking to a lovely State Park Volunteer, I decided not to camp there. Usal beach is known for attracting many car campers from Ft. Bragg and is therefore oftentimes quite noisy and crowded.
Day 167: All wet...(39miles)
Day 167 was one of the roughest days in a long time. I had heard about potential rainfall in Shelter Cove and indeed woke up to a nice summer rain. This warm and soft rain intensified over the next couple of hours.
Long before noon it was raining cats and dogs. I stowed away my phone to prevent it from getting wet again and put on a stubborn can-do attitude.
The last miles to Usal Beach were slow going and slippery and so I fell pretty bad, when some fern wrapped itself around my foot. I got lucky as my fall was stopped by a few trees, before it got worse. I sprained a finger, but had no other injuries.
Miles before reaching Usal Beach I heard, what the volunteer had been talking about the day before. Loud beats and party music.
From Usal Beach I hiked along a dirt road and than another 28miles along the Shoreline Highway.
Even in this rain, this section offered some great views, but without any protection from trees or hills, I had to face strong winds and a more and more intense rain. Before long I was completely soaked and feared the worst for my gear. Fortunately it was still a rather warm day, but I still had to keep hiking to not get cold.
I initially had hoped to find a dry place in Westport, but didn't get lucky and so I pushed all the way through to Ft. Bragg.
Day 168: Planning...again (0miles)
With most of my gear wet and the decision to leave the California Coastal Trail to return to the PCT I once again stayed in town, to dry my stuff and to plan the 330mile hike through central California.
As of now, I have completed 75% of my hike and roughly 1600miles left. I should be able to finish my hike within the next 2 months.