We started comparing notes and checking maps in late May for our trip to the rugged Northern California Coast.
The first planning session in our warehouse was filled with excitement as we looked down at possible camp spots using Google Earth. We determined starting at Usal beach was the best logical choice and from there we would head north on the 4x4 trail and just wing it. Sometimes the best plan is no plan right?
Most of the group met at our Santa Cruz location for a caravan up North. It was a bigger group then we normally head out with at 22 people and 11 vehicles but there was so much interest we just had to let more folks join the Tepui Adventure. We rolled out of Santa Cruz at around 10 AM with all the toys including mountain bikes, kite boards, long boards, and SUPs as well as good grilling grub and beverages to go along with it.
As we rolled into Laytonville, the last good fill up spot before heading to the coast, we quickly realize the small town’s importance to the neighboring community and coastal wondering folks. The place was lined up down the road with people waiting to fill up with fuel and stock up on ice and other gear. A quick head count and we were back on the road heading west on narrow twisty HWY1 towards the coast. At mile marker 19.8 there is a pretty discrete dirt road that would have been easily missed if not for the sharp eyes of my co-pilot Bernard.
Six miles on pretty windy roads of slick mud and steep drop offs eventually came to an end at Usal Beach which reminds me more of the Alaskan wilderness than the California coast. With endless untouched rugged terrain and steep cliffs rising right out of the Pacific it really takes on a wild persona that excited the group after the long drive.
We established ourselves on the beach in a sort of scattered semi-circle to protect us from the wind. Out came the camp kitchen and we fired up the grill to the sounds of opening beers bottles and deploying Tepui Tents. The crackle of the camp fire soon kicked in and we were all set for a great night camping on the beach with the sounds of waves crashing just over our shoulder.
We woke to broken clouds and sun shining over the lush back drop behind our camp. With a bit of coffee and greasy eggs & bacon for fuel it was time to explore. Some folks took to the ocean on SUPs and surfboards and some to the hills on mountain bikes or foot. Everyone convened back at camp for a good afternoon lunch and to our surprise we found we had an aerial artist among the group. That was definitely not to be passed over so we took to the trees and hung her 45ft long silks. She climbed, twisted, spun and hung from every angle and it was well...just awesome. There were a few brave contenders that gave it a whirl and were surprised by the demand on core strength and balance which made our performer even more impressive as she didn’t even break a sweat.
The next day we broke camp early and took off north on Usal road through mud pits, broken down trees, and ruts that could twist a front end if taken wrong. Overall it was fairly passable and the only breakdown we had was to accommodate a lunch on the trail where an Elk was seen by one of the crew while wandering into the woods.
We passed by the views and old cottages near four corners and then ended up camping up the road just shy of Shelter Cover under the canopy of the Redwoods. Another good evening by the fire with stories and marshmallows concluded our last night before breaking camp and parting ways until the next Tepui Adventure.
Thanks all for coming out!
-Evan (this is not me on the silks, but I couldn't pass up posting this shot)