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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
California's Lost Coast, 2004

Let's take a trip in the WayBack machine! 17 years ago.

This map is crap ... appears that the trail is currently closed indefinitely. Turns out this road is in worse shape now than it was when I explored it and Google was sending unknowing tourists down this road when 101 was blocked. I hear there are closed gates on it now.
(click for awful Google map)


On the fence about posting this one because, while the experience was exhilarating, the map I have here and the photos I caught leave a lot out. But what the heck, it was an adventure that bears sharing. The map is not correct ... Google will not let me select the route I actually took. So just ignore that blue line to the right that follows 101, I did not go that way. I continued following Usal Road past the the last point marked on the left and the point marked Briceland Road. I have a paper map that shows it ... paper maps are best maps.

I took a bit of a camping tour of California in 2004. One of the places I visited that I always wanted to explore was the "Lost Coast" of California. Having grown up in that part of the world, it will always hold a special draw for me.

I had spent the previous night in Van Damme State Park, a gorgeous little campground on California's Mendocino coast, just south of the town of Mendocino.


Headed out early in the morning on Highway 1, north past Fort Bragg until just after the road takes a sharp turn inland toward Leggett. On the north side of the highway is the entrance to Usal Road.


I went prepared with extra fuel and had all of my survival gear ... it was a camping expedition, you know. The route was to take Usal Road across Timber Ridge and [Jacka $$] Ridge up the intersection with Briceland Road at a spot known as Four Corners (marked on the map as Briceland Road). From there continue north on Chemise Mountain Road up to Shelter Cove; or turn west and head down to the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.

The clouds were low and thick along the ridgeline as I headed out so the scenery was limited by that. But the road was in good shape, the trees were thick, and I was having a great time exploring in my 2-year-old WJ. She didn't even have a name yet. Not long into the drive, I found this little bridge that I thought was cool.


My plan was to head up to Sinkyone and camp there. I drove on a bit more and found Usal Beach, but I did not know it then. Being young-ish and dumb-ish and inexperienced, I thought I was already at Sinkyone which was weird because I had not traveled far, and it was not what I expected. But it was a neat place, the scenery WAS beautiful, and the clouds were clearing off so I stopped and had lunch.


Here, I did a really poor job of cropping together a panoramic view of the beach. To the right is the beginning of the coastline known as "The Lost Coast". The mountains drop steeply down into the ocean all along it's length. There was actually another explorer there with his dog, hope I did not bug him too much.


After that, the road got more interesting. I discovered that the exterior cargo rack absolutely ruined my departure angle. I banged it on several rocks and ruts. I had to think twice about where I tried to drive. In all it was not too bad ... I was happy to have the extra fuel as insurance, but the cans were leaking pieces of garbage (angrily returned them, thanks CARB), but I have not taken the rack on an offroad adventure since. It is still in my garage, I may never use it again, but at least it kept the fuel cans back where they would not damage my paint while they leaked.

I did take a pic of Bella on the road, and another poorly stitched panorama. That's the Lost Coast down there.



Continuing on, the road continued to stretch on-and-on-and-on ... It was isolated, there was nobody to be seen anywhere. It got a little creepy. Thinking that the beach back there was Sinkyone, well I should have reached Shelter Cove by now, but on and on I went. Am I lost? Nah ... Eventually I found Four Corners and realized I was NOT lost. I should have stuck to the plan and went camping at Sinkyone, but the hours of mild anxiety wondering if I was lost had taken their toll and I decided to continue on. BIG MISTAKE because I have not been back since ...

I blew past to Shelter Cove and continued on through the King Range mountains, which was another mistake ... that road was even more creepy, hot, and desolate, with missing person's posters stapled to trees along the road. Knowing that I was deep into the Emerald Triangle and that there were likely illegal operations going on all around me, this did not lower my anxiety. Then I DID take a wrong turn and get a little lost on Saddle Mountain Road and hit a dead end. Feeling like I was skating too close to the edge of a Deliverance film, I skedaddled back the way I came and finally dropped out of the mountains in Honeydew and made my way back to civilization.

Would love to get back up there and explore, there are lots of trails out there that sound like fun.
 

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Love this thread, thank you for making it!

I used to live up in Humboldt county many moons ago... the lost coast was always on the agenda when people came to visit.

Thank you for bringing me along on your trip (for me too) down memory lane!
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Love this thread, thank you for making it!

I used to live up in Humboldt county many moons ago... the lost coast was always on the agenda when people came to visit.

Thank you for bringing me along on your trip (for me too) down memory lane!
Humboldt is still among the top 3 of most beautiful places I have ever been. I have friends and family that live up there and tell them all the time that the campgrounds around them are the best anywhere and that they need to go more often. People travel hundreds of miles to see them, and they live within 30 miles and never go. That is usually the way of it, though.

Thankful I got to grow up among the redwoods. Love visiting Humboldt.
 

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Oh yeah, are you meaning Fort Hunter Liggett? I spent alot of time over there near JOLON in a past life...I love that coastline and highway 1. I even spent a couple weekends in a motel in Santa Margarita as well...I wasnt lucky enough to travel in a jeep over there though. It would be fun to go back and do it with just 4 wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Oh yeah, are you meaning Fort Hunter Liggett? I spent alot of time over there near JOLON in a past life...I love that coastline and highway 1. I even spent a couple weekends in a motel in Santa Margarita as well...I wasnt lucky enough to travel in a jeep over there though. It would be fun to go back and do it with just 4 wheels.
Nah man, Leggett is like, this completely different town, ya dig? It's behind the redwood curtain, way up north of San Francisco, 200 miles north. Way up there. 45 miles north of Willits, the "Gateway to the Redwoods." Northern Mendocino county, just a bit south of Humboldt county. It's a little bitty place where somebody carved a hole big enough for their car through the middle of a 315-foot tall, 2400 year-old tree and named it the "Drive-thru Tree". Now for $10 you can park your car under it and take a picture under untold tons of hollowed out tree. Fun!

Hunter Liggett is about halfway between San Simeon (Hearst Castle) and Big Sur. And yeah, the coastline is pretty nice around there. This past winter a big storm came through and washed out part of highway 1 ... it left a pretty big hole, and no idea when or if the road will be fixed. Now you can only get to Big Sur from the north side through Monterey.
 

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Pretty jealous of your adventures. I've spent a fair amount of time in the Big Sur area, but I've only ever seen the Lost Coast from the sea side. Such a beautiful part of the country. I wish I had spent more time there.

I was lucky enough to get some seasonal work at Piedras Blancas lighthouse for a few years.
 

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Nah man, Leggett is like, this completely different town, ya dig? It's behind the redwood curtain, way up north of San Francisco, 200 miles north. Way up there. 45 miles north of Willits, the "Gateway to the Redwoods." Northern Mendocino county, just a bit south of Humboldt county. It's a little bitty place where somebody carved a hole big enough for their car through the middle of a 315-foot tall, 2400 year-old tree and named it the "Drive-thru Tree". Now for $10 you can park your car under it and take a picture under untold tons of hollowed out tree. Fun!

Hunter Liggett is about halfway between San Simeon (Hearst Castle) and Big Sur. And yeah, the coastline is pretty nice around there. This past winter a big storm came through and washed out part of highway 1 ... it left a pretty big hole, and no idea when or if the road will be fixed. Now you can only get to Big Sur from the north side through Monterey.
Oh,I stand corrected...I do know where Willits is, but that starts to get into the severely restricted routes for Semi-Trucks, so I didnt hang around there much. I have always wondered where that hollow tree is!
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Minor update: just got back from San Simeon State Park (California). Washburn campground site #204, was nice and would recommend.

Did not find a good jeep trail to explore.

Raining the day I got there. Next day the wind started and knocked down a power line on the next hill ... Fire. Local fire department showed up, sheriff, power company, park rangers ... It was pretty busy for a while. They knocked it down pretty quickly, but not before I was all hooked up and ready to roll.

Bella's recent suspension mods improved highway road manners a bunch. Better than stock setup, so that's a big plus. Mostly happy with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Pretty jealous of your adventures. I've spent a fair amount of time in the Big Sur area, but I've only ever seen the Lost Coast from the sea side. Such a beautiful part of the country. I wish I had spent more time there.

I was lucky enough to get some seasonal work at Piedras Blancas lighthouse for a few years.
Drove past the lighthouse ... It was closed, they would not let us check it out. :(
 

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Drove past the lighthouse ... It was closed, they would not let us check it out. 😞
It's always closed to visitors, the only way you can get out there is with a tour or if you walk in from the elephant seal beach. If anyone sees you though, they'll ask you to leave. Likely they're not doing tours cos COVID I bet.

Too bad I've forgotten the gate access code. I had worked up there for 3 seasons and they never changed it :laugh2:
 

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Minor update: just got back from San Simeon State Park (California). Washburn campground site #204, was nice and would recommend.

Did not find a good jeep trail to explore.

Raining the day I got there. Next day the wind started and knocked down a power line on the next hill ... Fire. Local fire department showed up, sheriff, power company, park rangers ... It was pretty busy for a while. They knocked it down pretty quickly, but not before I was all hooked up and ready to roll.

Bella's recent suspension mods improved highway road manners a bunch. Better than stock setup, so that's a big plus. Mostly happy with it.
Nice. I use to camp there all the time in the lower part by the beach.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
How's towing that RPod with your WJ?
Wish I could say it was no trouble, but it's a handful. It can pull the weight ok most of the time. It is a little tail happy. Wind, either natural or from passing traffic, pushes the trailer around and makes the Jeep wiggle a little. Keeps me on my toes. Some of the suspension changes I made have improved handling a bit but not as much as I was hoping.

Bella still does the job well enough that I am sticking with my plans to keep towing with her.
 

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Wish I could say it was no trouble, but it's a handful. It can pull the weight ok most of the time. It is a little tail happy. Wind, either natural or from passing traffic, pushes the trailer around and makes the Jeep wiggle a little. Keeps me on my toes. Some of the suspension changes I made have improved handling a bit but not as much as I was hoping.

Bella still does the job well enough that I am sticking with my plans to keep towing with her.
I'm going to assume, without reading the whole thread, that you put a thicker rear sway bar in. Have you considered load leveler shocks in the rear?
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
I'm going to assume, without reading the whole thread, that you put a thicker rear sway bar in. Have you considered load leveler shocks in the rear?
I try to keep tech discussion to a minimum in this thread but yeah, I have an Addco 684 in the rear. I have not considered load-leveling shocks but I was thinking about adding in-coil air bags.
 

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I try to keep tech discussion to a minimum in this thread but yeah, I have an Addco 684 in the rear. I have not considered load-leveling shocks but I was thinking about adding in-coil air bags.
We're picking up our first camper Saturday Wolf Pup 16FQBL so was curious what I'm getting myself into by using our's. Did you notice much improvement from the rear sway bar? The Omix tow springs interest me but I doubt my wife wants to climb in with a 2" lift though probably more since its original springs with 190k
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
We're picking up our first camper Saturday Wolf Pup 16FQBL so was curious what I'm getting myself into by using our's. Did you notice much improvement from the rear sway bar? The Omix tow springs interest me but I doubt my wife wants to climb in with a 2" lift though probably more since its original springs with 190k
I put the sway bar in before I got the camper, did not really tow before that so cannot say. Can say the 684 will completely change your asphalt cornering ability (in an awesome way), but is pretty stiff for off-road use. If I did it again, would try the smaller 634 for more flexibility off-road. May still do that ... but not right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Afternoon at Oceano Dunes


Yesterday I finally made some time to have a Jeep adventure and returned to the dunes. It has been a rough year with few opportunities. Snapped some pics for posterity.






You have to stay on your toes out here, one of these pits could ruin your day pretty quick. Yes, it is as steep as it looks.
 
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