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Skyline To Sea Trail

Day 3 of 3

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Sunday, August 2nd
Jay Trail Camp to Waddell Creek
13.0 miles
1230 vertical feet (ascent)

In the morning, the sound of birds filled the air. The thing about camping is that it's almost impossible not to go to sleep early and get up early. Today was no exception. We got up early and started cooking breakfast and getting ready for our hike. It was only then that I realized how much I had been bitten. I looked at my legs in amazement as I looked at all the bites. When I got home, I would count the bites -- 64 mosquito bites!!! I'm guessing that's the most I've ever been bitten. Jean fared little better -- 44 bites, and Joe probably suffered the worst (so many he didn't even bother counting).

Breaking camp after breakfast at Jay Camp

Unfortunately, Joe determined that the blister he'd gotten the day before would prevent him from completing the journey. So he would drive Jennie's car and meet us at the end later in the afternoon.

Jean and I emptied much of our packs (sleeping bags, tent, etc.) into Jennie's car. At 10:15am Jean, Jennie, Tim and I hiked down the Redwood Trail, where we met Kelly and 5 of her friends coming from Headquarters (where they'd run into Joe). The 9 of us then continued on the Skyline to the Sea Trail.

A snake we encountered shortly into the hike

The first few miles of the trail are the same as the hike I did to Berry Creek Falls 2 years earlier. It's up and down, mostly down, through a redwood forest, almost entirely shaded. It being August, however, meant that the ground was noticeably drier than when I'd done it in May before. Berry Creek Falls also had much less water, which made it prettier, I think. Instead of a straight raging torrent, it was a beautiful mist-like fall.

Tim dunks his head in the creek

We'd told Joe to meet us at 5pm, and we decided we had enough time to make the side trip up the Berry Creek Falls Trail to the falls themselves. This part of the trail is mostly up; after stopping briefly at the Berry Creek Falls overlook, we continued on up the trail to Silver Falls. Along the way, we had to climb over a large felled tree (maybe 4 feet in diameter), and carefully work our way through a field of mud and rocks next to the creek.

Berry Creek Falls. I have no idea why I'm smiling so much considering how much I was hurting when this picture was taken!

Berry Creek Falls. It's not as tall (70 feet) as Murietta Falls (100 feet), but it's larger in water volume and generally much prettier.

We stopped for lunch at Silver Falls. Afterwards, we started the long hike down to Waddell Beach. The trail basically follows Waddell Creek all the way down to the ocean.

Jean carefully crosses a make-shift bridge

Now, Jean and I had both been suffering from pain the whole morning. But at some point after lunch, the cumulative effect of dragging 28% of our body weights up and down the trail for 32 miles began to take its toll. I began to feel every step. The slightest incline or decline sent waves of pain coursing through my body. Even the flat parts of the trail were no cause for celebration. There was no particular singular point of pain. My right knee hurt. My quads and calves were burning. My shoulders were hurting (though not as much as they would have if I had carried my fully loaded pack). My left foot hurt. Actually, my left knee and right foot also probably hurt a little, but with all the pain coming from everywhere else, my body couldn't register that level of pain. Even my left wrist hurt at one point -- for the life of me I don't know how or why. As far as I'm concerned, that's the most pain I've ever endured for that length of time. My pace slowed considerably, though I wouldn't stop much -- that would only prolong the agony. I can only believe that Jean and I overcame this experience through sheer force of will.

Unfortunately, I can't take a picture of pain. Especially when the surroundings are so beautiful. Just imagine one long continuous owwwww!

I was vaguely aware that the trail we were hiking on was beautiful. Perhaps my slow pace even allowed me to enjoy it more than I usually would. Waddell Creek flowed gently on our right. Underneath us was a wide fire trail. Redwoods and other trees towered over either side of the trail, creating an arch-like effect. It was another hot day, but since we were going toward the coast, it never got too bad -- 86 degrees at one point. Much of the trail from Berry Creek Falls to the beach is open to mountain bikers and horses. Mountain bikers zipped along in either direction. Normally this ruins the experience for me. But the trail was so beautiful, it didn't matter. Or maybe it was because I was in so much pain, I don't know.

About a mile or so from the parking lot, the trail leaves the fire trail and enters an almost jungle-like setting. The trail narrows to a foot or two wide, and there's vegetation everywhere. Soon we rounded a corner and had our first glimpse of the ocean. Our cars looked close enough to touch, but it took us a while to weave our way down to the bottom.

The end is near! Waddell Beach in our sights!

And then it was all over. 32 miles in 3 days. 3820 feet of climbing. 6820 feet of descending. 17 hours of hiking. The pain began to slowly subside. I was so happy to be done!

Aaaah! Notice how happy we look after it's all over. =)

We drove over to the beach where it was about 20 degrees cooler. Jean and I didn't even have the energy to leave the car as Jennie went out and dipped her toes in the water. Joe arrived shortly thereafter with a cooler loaded with cold drinks and food. Aaaah. After dinner in Santa Cruz we retrieved our cars from the Castle Rock parking lot (still there, after all this time, sorely in need of a car wash!). And then it's back to the daily grind.

(I'll add a page of camping notes on equipment and such later)

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