Daytrippin’ in Humboldt – Beach Bouldering and the Lost Coast Brewery

Our coast is truly one of Northern California’s gems

By Ryan Loughrey

With the holiday season, traffic and locales around Redding have been busy. Not to mention the heat, so we decided to take an impulsive trip to the coast. Kiva and I loaded everything we could possibly need into my little car (meaning: snacks, bouldering gear, skimboard, swimsuits and sweatshirts due to the unpredictable nature of weather on the northern California coasts, also more snacks) and headed westward.

After very minimal traffic, we made it to Eureka. Although we normally go north to Trinidad or Patrick’s Point, we decided to do something we’ve never done before: Tour the Lost Coast Brewery. My first brewery tour was of Sierra Nevada in Chico, one of the largest craft brewers in the US, and I was hooked on the smell of hops and the look of the huge silver vats that process the liquid. We’ve tried to see the Lost Coast Brewery before, but our impulsive trips always lead to us arriving after they close.

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I have to admit, I don’t have a lot of experience with Lost Coast. My personal history with the company mainly began because their sweatshirts started showing up with my teenage friends who I’m pretty sure had never tried their beer. Still, their stark and cubist style has a way of catching your eye. After doing research, I learned that the early designs were the work of Duane Flatmo – he created the iconic Great White label. (After doing more research, I found that the artist and the company have since parted ways, not quite on the best of terms). Still, despite recent controversies, the company has also been making news as it grows as a microbrewery and as an ambassador for the Humboldt area. So we had to check it out.

We arrived on an overcast and cool Saturday and took the last tour of the day. Since it was the weekend, everything was shut down, and it gave the impression that we were innocently trespassing in the pursuit of knowledge. I still have a child-like part of me that is fascinated by machinery at work, seeing bottles being cleaned and swung and filled and labeled and packed is strangely mesmerising. With the building empty aside from us however, we could actually make out what the tour guide was saying. During the week, this might have been a much more difficult feat. We got to wander around their facility, and one of the highlights was seeing the piece they entered in the Kinetic Race a few years back. (The race is eclectic and features artistic creations that must be human powered and be able to travel over land and water competing).

The piece, of course, is the now infamous Great White, their flagship and most popular beer.

We also learned they are starting to can beers, due to the fact that in California, it is illegal to have bottled beers at festivals and beaches, according to our chipper guide. After the tour, we were able to try four different samples of beers (totaling about a pints worth). I was excited to try some of their fruitier beers, such as their Apricot Wheat or Watermelon Wheat.

After the tour, we decided to get to the ocean. One of my favorite beaches is Moonstone Beach, as it is secluded and has ample rocks for climbing and exploring. However, we arrived in the middle of a wedding, so the beach was busy with photographers and we were sorely underdressed. So, we decided to try a new beach that I had read about in the Northern California Bouldering book.

It’s called Houda Beach, is a small hike, and is stunningly pretty. I went back and forth about sharing it’s location. It seems to me that when people find a special place, they wish to hide it and keep it to themselves. I can see the logic behind this, as more and more people discovering a spot can inevitably bring trash – whether it is intentional or thoughtless litter such as cigarette butts, or just by overuse, which can lead to trampling of natural fauna. That being said, it is my opinion that people protect what they love, so by sharing my love of beautiful and natural places, I do so in the hopes that visitors will be responsible and take the same care that we do. I am a utilitarian conservationist, and believe that we can enjoy the bounties of earth in an engaged way and still preserve it for future generations. Okay, mini-rant over.

We parked on top of an overlook, and took the small staircase cut into the bank down to the shore. We trudged down our bulky crashpad and climbing shoes, as well as our guidebook. I felt like a tourist, carrying the book around, but it was invaluable.

As soon as we saw the rock, we could make out the chalky locations where rock climbers of days gone by had been. It turns out, this spot has perfect bouldering locations for people of our skill level, which is to say people who are beginner to intermediate. That being said, there are also some really tough routes, so people of any skill levels could find a good challenge here. (Shout out to Shasta Rock Club, where we have summer memberships and are trying to hone our skills). We also learned the difficulty in using climbing shoes on the beach, when slick, wet sand sticks to the bottom of climbing shoes and renders the ordinarily grippy soles useless.

In addition, as high tide approached, one of the rocks that was perfect for climbing soon had water surrounding its base. We moved locations, and kept climbing as much as we could.

As the sun set, we packed up our crash pad and sore muscles, and just walked along the beach. On other parts of the beach, there were driftwood structures people had built, and we climbed inside and admired the architecture. I should note the beach is also great for skimboarding or for people to bring their dogs.

We ate dinner at a cozy little diner after the sun had set. Our stomachs full of comfort food and hot coffee, we fueled up and headed inland towards home. It was a half-day, impulsive, coastal trip, and I had a blast. I love the winding drive along the Trinity River, arriving at the coast and smelling the salty air, and putting my feet in the sand at the immense edge of the great Pacific. Our coast is truly one of northern California’s gems.

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