01 May 2005

What Once Was Lost

Normally I'd be upset that the New York Times has an article (registration req.) about one of my favorite, relatively unknown places in the country, but California's "Lost Coast" is such a pain in the ass to get to that I'm not worried that it'll ever be "spoiled."

I was there, basically by accident, this past winter. I took a side road off 101 just to see what was there. What I found was probably the most amazing stretch of coast line I've ever seen.

Even the road to get there is spectacular. Imagine the most insanely tortuous, steep road you've ever travelled. Now multiply that by, like, twelve, and you've got Mattole Road, which winds its way up and down the sheer cliffs of the King Range (I think...) from Ferndale out to the coast. We're talking 180-degree hairpin turns while ascending at a "My-car-is-going-to-tip-over" angle-- all of which turns are banked the wong way.

Eventually, after passing through a collection of farm buildings optimistically called "Capetown," I found myself at the ocean's edge. It wasn't until later, when I did a little research to figure out where the hell I actually was, that I discovered that I was almost certainly the furthest west human being (does that make sense?) in the contiguous US.

On the way back out (Mattole Road does a big loop) after once again ascending and descending the mountains guarding the coast, I saw the road ahead of me suddenly appeared to disappear into darkness.

"Huh. How strange," I said to myself. "What the heck is that up there? A tunnel?"

And then, just like that, I was on Endor.

It turns out that the road runs right into the back side of the Humboldt Redwood forest. 300-foot tall, 3000-year-old trees are always pretty damn impressive, but when you're not expecting them, and you're the only one around, it's positively breathtaking.

But, as I said, it's such a pain in the ass to even get to the Lost Coast, that I'm not worried about the damn Times giving away the best kept secret of the California coast.

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