We woke up fairly early in Redcrest with the knowledge that we had a big day ahead of us as we dove into California’s Lost Coast. Our sleep had been interrupted in the middle of the night by a strange and eerie barking creature. A neighboring camper who got out of his tent described it as a fox like animal, and after some discussion we decided it was likely a chupacabra. After choking down breakfast, stale grilled cheese and french fries saved from the one burger joint in town from the night before, we headed off into Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
After ten miles of pleasant meandering among the redwoods, we had a pretty steady seven mile climb up panther gap ridge. In hindsight, this was actually one of the easier climbs on the lost coast as the grade didn’t exceed 10%, meaning you could pretty much just stick it in the granny and motor up. The payoff was a terrific descent into Honeydew, one of the key resupply points on the Lost Coast.
(despite appearances in this photo, the road into Honeydew is paved)
After subsisting for most of the morning on grilled cheese and bars, I was pretty pleased to make it to Honeydew. The store caters to a mix of personalities, with supplies ranging from pork and beans to hippie energy bars, including some gluten free ones made from rice flour in the refrigerator. If you make your way through here, make sure to budget a little time to stop, hang out, and people watch.
Speaking of locals, when we told the women running the register that we were on our way to Shelter Cove, she said she had never been there, despite living in the area for some time. Pretty amazing when you think that Shelter Cove is really the only town of any size on the entire lost coast!
(my friend Esteban’s grub)
We felt pretty energized leaving Honeydew, not entirely cognizant of how hard the remaining riding was going to be before we made it to our destination in Shelter Cove. The six-mile climb up Wilder Ridge was tougher than Panther Gap because the grades reached 13% in places. It also featured one very tough customer of a resident:
Cerberus, Guardian of Wilder Ridge Road kept us at bay for a good 15 minutes before the owner finally showed up from her run to rescue us. I like to think the honey pretzel treat I was offering just as she showed up might have granted us passage, but I’m not so sure.
At the top of Wilder Ridge, we made a turn onto dirt and begin the long up and down slog of King’s Peak Road. It’s actually a lovely stretch, but things were really heating up. I’m not sure what the temperature was, but after temps in the low 60s for the first two days, I was sweating bullets.
(This pic about sums up how we felt by the time we made it to Shelter Cove Road)
(destination finally in sight!)
The road to Shelter Cove descends 2000 feet in about four miles at grades of 10-13% for most of the way. Lots of fun going down, but keep in mind that there’s only one way in and out of Shelter Cove.
About half way down, you’ll find a great grocery store. Make sure to stop here as it’s a 1000 foot climb back up from town and the store in town is much smaller and more expensive. After the oppressive heat of King’s Peak road, I downed two large coconut waters in about 5 minutes.
The RV park in Shelter Cove is pretty much the one cheap place to stay, and it served its purpose, but was a bit on the mangy side.
Outside of the RV park, the town itself–which is mostly a landing strip, vacation homes, a few restaurants, and a bunch of sport fisherman–was quite scenic:
All in all, I am glad we visited Shelter Cove–it was one of those places on the map that really piqued my curiosity. At the same time, if I were to do the trip again, I might bring enough food to stay at the Wailaki campground up on Chemise Mtn Road and avoid the trip down and up Shelter Cove Road. As we would discover the next day, Usal Road is hard enough in and of itself without a 2000 foot/4 mile climb at the start.
I finished the day with a little whiskey and some local red snapper and rice. All in all, we rode 50 miles and climbed 7301 feet. Normally I’d be embarrassed to admit that a 50 mile ride kicked my butt, but as has been said, if you are used to 100 mile days in the saddle, plan for 30 on the lost coast.