The Lost Coast Trail


“Rise free from care before the dawn and seek adventure. Let the noon find thee by other shores and the night overtake thee everywhere at home.”

That pretty much sums it up……… but there is the off-chance that a certain party could add more. It was a great, once in a lifetime adventure – yes, another one – consisting of ten fearless adventurers and two even more fearless guides. The puzzlement introduced in my last post about the lostedness issue was somewhat elucidated by factors that introduced themselves in due time over the course of our journey.

Before I proceed, let it be understood that in the paragraphs to come, none of the names have been changed, no one’s privacy protected and anything remotely factual has been seriously tampered with and reduced to fantasy. That being said, Laurie, Joe and Kajari took inordinate measures to get away from their spouses for a few days even to the point of carrying 60 pounds on their backs, wading through quicksand and wandering beyond cell phone service – which is one of the first things lost on the lost trail! Hi-dee-ho!

Where to begin? Northern California is wild, spectacularly beautiful and immense. If your dreams or desires run to getting away from it all or hiding out from the law, there are hundreds of square miles of dense forest in which to make that dream a reality. The miles and hours of undulating and winding hairpin turns that delivered us to our starting point are another element surely lost to any map – or trip description! But once at the trailhead vast vistas thrust themselves upon us, bathed us unabashedly in a splendor that permeated every pore, violated every sensory organ until we screamed “Stop! We can take no more. We will never be able to explain it!” And as we dared proceed, Nature in her immeasurable, all-engulfing grandeur laughed at our attempts to capture her essence in any photo. So I must rely on the limitations of my written word – plus a lot of photos! And I am well aware that there is nothing more interesting than other people’s travel photos; but here we go.

The Start

First of all, the coast is not lost. It is visible for miles ahead and miles behind which is no comfort when carrying a ninety-five pound pack which I’m pretty sure I was………………. no way to verify that now so take my word for it. It is the trail that’s lost. Every tide washes the old trail away and every winter buries it under 30 to 40 feet of water. Yup, we saw entire trees that had been lifted 40 feet above the current high tide line by last winter’s storms. Even found this baby, great white shark just off the trail about 30 feet above sea level.

Our indispensable guide, Blu, with his dead pet shark!

So on we go.

Lost Coast Trail animal. Hi dee ho!

The journey.

As Churchill said, “Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lay down.”
Mishka. Our other indispensable guide who came along to remind us of the splendor of youth.
The product of Mishka’s pre-dawn exertions to help Susan and I celebrate our 40th anniversary!

“The Dirty Dozen” including Mishka, the photographer.
Nice trail!
Our room with a view
Older and wiser – I’d like to think.

That probably satisfies everyone’s hunger to see our travel photos although there are many more. My disrespectful youngest brother often reminds me that there hasn’t been enough Scotch distilled to sit through the digital capture of our excursions. So be it. Hi Dee Ho!

One more thing lost on the trail were most of our toenails. We’re recovering. No photos! I just hope someone finds them!

Life as been fuuuuulllll since I last corresponded, consequently many of the titillating anecdotes of the hike have been side tracked by errant synapses firing into the void somewhere between amygdala and hippocampus and rerouted past my memory bank to some inaccessible storage site. This is unfortunate for most of you because there is a party, laced with hilarity, raging there at this very moment………..but no one will ever know. Almost immediately upon our return from the west coast we made a mad dash north to Batavia via Philadelphia so that I could participate in an annual golf weekend with my high school friends. An occasion in which I augment their retirement funds through crafty wagers which I don’t thoroughly understand. I posted a pretty low score this year: 0/2. Lost no balls on Friday and only 2 on Saturday. Apparently that’s not how everyone else scores their game but it works for me and keeps me coming back! The weekend is always fun. We tell the same stories year after year but they keep getting better; and now we can’t remember that we’ve repeated them for almost twenty years so it’s all like new – isn’t that right Bob?

The remodel job on our house is finally done so the day after our return from the north our furniture was released from many months of captivity in storage. Three days after that we were evacuated for Hurricane Dorian! It was the kind of hurricane in which Jacksonville received .25 inches of water but which still left us deep within the “cone of uncertainty” for over 48 long, nail-biting hours. Stressful for some, but I have lived most of my life in that very cone! As the clouds were lifting, Suzi, our daughter-in-law was going into labor and we are new grandparents again to Christian Gavin McCutcheon. Two weeks old now and I’m sure he has more pictures on Face Book than I do. Probably more friends also!

As I said, it’s been busy………… Hypocrisy is so easy and is “the best of all possible worlds!” Friday we attended two climate change rallies and on Saturday participated in International Coastal Clean-up Day. It’s our attempt to compensate for the environmental carnage we were responsible for as the dumpsters repeatedly pulled away from our house for the last nine months……..although Susan said they were filled with our money!

It’s good to live in Florida. I’m going to sit on my deck, watch the sun set, the sea level rise, and like many of my fellow Floridians – embrace denial or bathe in the comfort of knowing that God is going to solve the climate problem – just like he did when he had Noah build that ark! Hi dee ho!

From deep within the cone of uncertainty,



  1. Rich McC

    Sounds like a great adventure and can not wait to be enthralled with the details over everything thrilling photo….alert Scotland!!!

  2. jeb.connor

    Hey Jim,

    Many thanks for sharing your wonderful prose and pics about the special times you and Susan are experiencing exploring everywhere with those 90 pound knapsacks. I guess those tents on the Northern California beach are what our tent at the Watkins Glenn 1973 Summer Jam was supposed to look like๐Ÿ˜€. CONGRATULATIONS on Christian….The world is a better place with another McCutcheon! Keep the updates coming๐Ÿ‘.

  3. tomc


    I know the Churchill quote you cited but I believe the Nietzsche quote โ€œ That which does not kill you makes you stronger โ€œ is most appropriate for your coastal adventure. It could have been done by helicopter in a fraction of the time !

    Congratulations on your new grandchild; as I remember baby sitters that drive to and from get paid 25% more. We will be driving to New York next week for a two day assignment which should be worth quite a premium.


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