Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Filming in the King Range and Misinformation

Screen shot from video A

Screen shot from video B

Every so often we find a professional/commercial type video that has been shot in the King Range – usually on the Lost Coast Trail. What I find most interesting about these videos is how they choose to show themselves passing through the “impassable at high tide” sections of the trail.

They show themselves running through the surf, jumping on rocks and being hit by waves. They are extreme and daring - Or are they?

What bothers me is that folks watching this behavior at home may be led to believe that this is how one hikes the Lost Coast Trail and that this is normal. By watching these videos one could then expect that their trip on the Lost Coast should/would be similar.

No doubt you will get wet from time to time, but my point is this: With proper planning and preparing for a journey on the Lost Coast it would be a rare circumstance in which one would find themselves being pummeled by waves.

I believe that the people in these videos deliberately put themselves in dangerous situations in order to make an exciting and interesting spectacle for viewers.  

  • Example one, the group in video A is shown entering one of the “high tide sections” and displays this on the screen:

Next, you see them up against the rocks being hit by waves (see screen shot from Video A above). 

  • ·         Example two, the individual in video B is explaining,

    "The tide is on it’s way up right now, we’re entering right away a five mile tidal zone. And high tide is at     1230 today; it’s about 9 :00 right now.”

And in another scene:

    "We’re actually at one of the notorious pinch points at high tide right now.”

      Entering the impassable zone when the tide is on its way up is NOT the correct way to go about this.

  • ·         Example three: There is a scence of the individual running around/between large rocks and through the water (see picture below). These rocks are not in any “impassable zone” on the Lost Coast. This must mean they chose to film the scence for purely theatrical reasons. 

Going by the advice/actions of the folks in some of these videos will lead you to trouble.

Below, I will go over the essential information for planning a trip to the King Range AND how to safely pass through the "impassable at high tide" sections of trail

  • Weather
  •  Tides
  • Creek crossings
  •  Human waste disposal
  •  Food storage
  •  Campfires

1. Weather

Watch the weather closely for the days and weeks leading up to your trip.
There is no guarantee for what the weather will be like in the King Range. It could be hot, cloudy, windy, calm, rainy, foggy, misty, or pouring rain. Before your trip you should check the weather but also plan for all types of weather events. Things can and often do change rapidly out here on the coast. Bring a hat for the sun as well as a jacket and pants for the rain. 

You probably have your favorite source for weather forecasting but I like to use:

Check this blog entry for more information about hiking in the King Range during the winter:

2. Tides  

There three “impassable during high tide” sections on the trail (you should have a map and keep track of where you are and where these areas are located):

  • Punta Gorda 

  • Sea Lion Gulch to Randall Creek

                Note: approximately a half-mile south of Sea Lion Gulch the trail is impassable at all tide levels   
                and you will be required to use the overland route.
  • Miller Flat to about one mile south of Buck Creek

Additionally,  south of Shelter Cove is Point No Pass. This is impassable at ALL tide levels. Do Not Attempt. If you plan to hike from Shelter Cove to the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park catch the Lost Coast Trail at Hidden Valley. The trailhead is on Chemise Mountain Road, off of Shelter Cove Road.

You need to pass through these sections on a RECEDING tide! 

Follow this link for more information about planning your travel though the “impassable at high tide” zones safely: 

3. Creek crossings

With heavy rains the creeks in the King Range can rise rapidly and there is the possibility that they will be impassable within a day or several hours of an intense down pour. However, streams may recede to a safe crossing level within a day or several hours after it has stopped raining. Of course, this depends on how long and heavy it has been raining for. Have a backup plan to turn back or wait it out.

I am occasionally asked if one can take an overland route around the creeks if they are too high to cross. In theory this is possible. Yet, to get up high enough to actually find a place to avoid the stream crossing would add considerable time and energy to your trip. Are you prepared for an extra day or two of hiking? This is not a quick fix and most likely this is not something you would want to attempt.

General rule of thumb is not to attempt a creek crossing if it is deeper than your knees. It may be tempting to cross a creek closer to the ocean where it is often wider and a bit shallower rather than farther up the creek where often it is narrower and deeper. If you do decide to cross closer to the ocean I advise you to watch the wave behavior for several minutes before you decide to cross. Look to see how big the waves are and how far they are pushing water up the creek. Large waves with high energy can race far up the beach without warning. Waves may be small for 10-20 minutes with a few minutes of larger wave activity that may seem to "come out of nowhere." Unsuspecting hikers can be washed out to sea in an instant from these occurrences.

Use caution. Watch, Look and Listen. Be patient and take your time.

You’ll need to use your best judgment based on the conditions and the skills/abilities of your group. Look up, look around, pay attention, study the waves and the behavior of the ocean.

4. Human Waste Disposal

5. Food storage and respecting wildlife

The bears DO come down to the beach regularly. If you keep an eye out there's a good chance you will see their tracks in the sand - especially in the morning hours. 

The number ONE thing you can do to respect wildlife in the King Range is to have a bear canister and to use it properly. The bear can is to protect the bears from your food and the extra bonus is that you also protect your food from the bears. You will notice on top of the Garcia Backpackers’ Cache it says, “Save the bears” (it does not say, “Save your food”). So, what does this mean? When a bear starts to eat human food and learns that humans can be associated with an easy meal they will lose their fear of humans, come around campsites more often, and become increasingly aggressive. This is what you would call a “habituated” or “food conditioned” bear and they could eventually need to be put down if the aggression gets out of hand.

Hanging your food is NOT an option in the King Range and on the Lost Coast Trail. You may be experienced with hanging food but there is a serious lack of sufficient trees on the LCT. Requirements for hanging food vary from place to place but generally 10’ high and 4’ from the base of the tree would be sufficient. You are not going to be able to achieve this on the LCT.

All overnight visitors must store all of their food, toiletries and scented items (Including trash!) in a hard-sided bear-proof container approved by the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group (SIBBG). We rent out the Garcia bear can here at the BLM Project Office in Whitethorn for $5 for your entire journey. You will need a credit card and a drivers license (if you don’t return the bear can you will buy it). We are open Monday-Friday 8-4:30.

Other places to rent cans (call for availability, hours and prices):

BLM Arcata Field Office (7:45-4:30)
1695 Heindon Rd. Arcata

Shelter Cove General Store
7272 Shelter Cove Rd. Whitethorn

Petrolia General Store

HSU center Activities

REI also rents bear cans but the pricing varies from store to store so I won’t list it here. They did tell me that it is substantially less expensive for members, however.

Lastly, there are two other critters that the bear can is good for the raccoon and the mouse - they will tear into your pack for just a peanut.

6. Campfires

The King Range is now out of campfire restrictions for the winter season.

We ask that you use existing fire rings and keep the fire small by using only small pieces of wood that you can break by hand. This helps contain the fire in the ring and also helps to keep the campsites clean for other visitors. Larger pieces of wood tend to spread ash outside of the ring and breaks down its perimeter. In turn, this leads to an eye sore for other visitors and encourages them to build another fire ring - multiplying the impacts. 

The photo set above are an example of a campfire ring in very poor condition and the results of "naturalization."

PLEASE help your friendly ranger by keeping your campfires small (if it's not warm enough just get closer!!) and contained withing the ring. Also, this will keep the area looking natural and undamaged for other visitors. 

Why was this necessary? 

Anyhow, that's it for now. I hope you have enough information to safely plan your trip to the King Range and Leave No Trace of your visit. 

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me. 

Your Wilderness Ranger, 
Paul Sever

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