South Coast Wilderness Trail - Toleak Point — Monday, Mar. 25, 2013
I read each and every trip report for this hike before going, and still managed to be surprised by the "trail" conditions! We had good weather, with just a bit of rain the last day on the way out, but the mud was still present on the two major headland trails. Boot Sucking Mud! I enjoyed mucking around in my waterproof boots and gaiters, and was super glad I didn't try it with my lightweight Solomon boots. I suppose if you took your sweet time, you could avoid going in ankle deep, but I took the ranger's advice to "embrace the mud" rather than skirt the mud pits and further widen the trail. The scenery CANNOT be beat, nor compared to more easily accessible beaches to the south! Sea stacks all along the route, tidepools when the tide's low, eagles, deer, and sea lions were present. It was almost enough to distract you into underestimating the difficulty of hauling your butt plus gear including required Bear Can up the thin cruddy ropes of the Scott's Bluff Headland trail! Almost. Up is BY FAR harder than going down. We bought a DOT guide tide table, which did not exactly match the National Park Service printed tide table. Why? Well, for starters, the National Park page did not reflect Daylight's Savings Time. Not like we don't observe it... The tides were not in the best schedule for exploration, which is why we changed our plans from Rialto to Third Beach as a starting point, so we'd have time to gather water without getting stuck around a headland all day. We went for the last established site on the south side of Toleak Point, up off the beach in a little private bluff by Jackson Creek. I had read online that this was "arguably the best site", but by the time we got there at dusk it looked pretty shabby. Plus there was a huge driftwood logjam to negotiate every time you left the site. There was a rough stickery trail to the "privy" from the campsite, but the main trail went off the beach, past even more driftwood. The "privy" is the worst I've ever seen! There was only one wall to shelter your bum from new arrivals, which is better than the NO WALLS I saw on the way out on the Scott's Creek privy... Plus, the coastal weather has coated the floor boards in slimy residue and privy users MAY feel like they're all the time getting ready to plummetthrough rotted wood into a pit of waste! Well, I did. Anyways, if you choose the Jackson Creek site, you'll be all alone in your own little cove unless people camp on the bach in the driftwood. Tide rises pretty high and washes into the creek, so collect and filter your water at low tide. We bought a collapsable bucket for water collection,and we go back to camp to filter it. It works great and prevents too many trips to the creek. The two major Points, Strawberry and Toleak, were very cool to explore at low tide, we should have stayed another day to really enjoy both places. Strawberry point has a very decorated site right on the point, where the waves converge at tide change then reveal a path to an offshore island/seastack. Then there are sites in the trees from there all the way to Toleak (Toll-e-ak, apparantly) Point. The mid day tide change required an afternoon start time for our hike out, and we didn't get to the trailhead til after dark, totally exhausted! I would rate this as an intermediate difficulty hike, only because of the distance between filterable water and camp sites and those STEEP rope and ladder trails over Taylor Point and Scott's Bluff. The beach walking was easy and scenic and awesome! There were a few downed trees that we had to negotiate at high tide, but when we walked in at low tide, we didn't even notice them as potential obstacles.