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Lost in the Mist

August 15, 2012

WARNING: This is not a post about sending.  If you want a post about sending, read this.

Lost Rocks

Ever since seeing photos of climbers bouldering on a sandy beach in northern California several years ago, I’ve wanted to go to Lost Rocks.  So I decided that it was worth adding an extra 4 hours to our already 10-11 hour round trip drive while out there last week to check it and the rest of Redwood National Park out.  I’d seen Lost Rocks referred to as the “magic beach” and read that in many cases, crash pads were unneeded because of the soft landing of the sand.  That was good, because I had none.  No problems are listed in the Northern California Bouldering Guide, because the grades change over time as the tides alter the sand.

Can you find the trail?

There are some access issues – the very north end of the beach is tribal land, so it is off limits to bouldering.  We followed the instructions on Mountain Project, and parked in a pull-off high above the beach.  I didn’t know there were jungles in northern California, but a machete might have been helpful on the approach.  It didn’t seem like anyone with a crash pad had traveled the trail to the coast in awhile, nor would it be easy with one.  We were forced to grab on to roots and vines in order not to slip right down the mud and rocks, and to duck and push our way through various bushes and other flora.  It took a lot longer than we had planned for.

When we emerged from the jungle, we were greeted by a black sand beach, the Pacific Ocean, and black rocks scattered along the coast.

Lost Rocks

Not knowing exactly what to do except for to not go too far north, we headed left to a cluster of rocks. The tide seemed to be coming in (ooops, should’ve looked that up beforehand), so we decided not to venture all the way to the next beach, lest we get stuck and have to take an even more treacherous way back.  For awhile I played on some easy boulder problems and found out that yes, the sand offered a perfect landing surface as long as there were no rocks in the way, but a crash pad could have been useful in another way.  Since some of the sand was damp, I found it hard to keep my shoes from getting wet and having the bottoms covered with sand crystals.  At least some sort of mat would’ve been nice to have.

Realizing that it was getting late and still having another hike in Redwood National Park that we wanted to do, we decided to head back up the steep trail.  On the way out, we saw some other boulderers (with crash pads) climbing on a pretty sweet rock to the right of the trail.  I should’ve asked them how they got down there, because we didn’t see any other cars at the top pullout and the trail seemed pretty difficult to navigate with a pad.  Mountain Project did mention another trail further south, so I wonder if that one was less of a jungle.

The takeaway: If you like hearing the sound of waves crashing against the shore while wrestling pebbles and happen to be in northern CA, this is definitely a place to check out.  Especially if you’re looking for somewhere to boulder in 60-degree weather in August.  I’d like to go back when I have more time to explore, and have checked the tides!  Maybe next time I’ll try to find some better beta for the area.  And bring a pad.

Castle Rock

A couple days later, after driving back to the Bay Area, we met up with friends Luke and Lizzy (who brought crash pads!) at Castle Rock State Park.  Castle Rock got a lot of press earlier this summer as Chris Sharma put in a lot of effort to make sure it was not shut down because of CA budget cuts.

Just a note: If you are approaching Castle Rock from the south and Google maps tells you to go on 35 (Skyline Drive), DO NOT DO IT.  Unless you like an exciting drive on a ridiculously windy road up a mountain that doesn’t look like it can fit 2 cars across when there are a lot of completely blind switchbacks.  The other direction, while winding, at least it wide enough for a double yellow line.

Castle Rock bouldering

We only had time to boulder for about an hour, but the bugs were eating us alive so that was probably a good thing.  Quickly, Luke showed us to a small cluster of boulders not far from where we parked along the road.  Not really knowing what any of the problems were, we started on a few short boulders.  The top outs were pretty slopey, reminiscent of places like HP40, making even the easier problems a little tricky but fun.  We attempted a cool looking traverse, but in the warm weather the slopers weren’t really sticking.  Still, in this small cluster of boulders there was plenty to occupy some already exhausted (Luke and Lizzy had just done a 45 mile trail run in Yosemite the weekend before!) climbers for an hour.  If I’m ever in the area again, I look forward to going back to experience the other areas – hopefully when it’s a bit cooler and less filled with mosquitoes.

For dinner, we headed to Alice’s Restaurant.  Yes, that Alice’s Restaurant.  I’m not sure a menu full of sandwiches and burgers is getting anything you want, but hey, there were a lot of sandwiches and burgers.

So yeah, I might have not had any awesome sends or sweet photo or video to show for this trip, but sometimes it’s just chill to check a few new places out in the little time that’s free while traveling.  For a pebble addict, a little jolt is sometimes all that’s necessary.

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