Joseph Seiberling’s 27th birthday hike along the Lost Coast Trail offered more excitement than he bargained for when he found himself face-to-face with an aggressive black bear. The Davis native embarked on a solo journey to explore the rugged beauty of the Lost Coast, aiming for the Punta Gorda Lighthouse from Shelter Cove on January 28, 2024. His return, however, took an unexpected detour into a life-threatening scenario.
Seiberling, an experienced hiker, had prepared meticulously, consulting travel blogs and preparing for the tidal conditions. Despite being aware of the presence of black bears in the area and taking precautions, nothing could have fully prepared him for the encounter on January 30. While navigating back, Seiberling stumbled upon a black bear in a narrow passage. In a tense moment, the bear charged, forcing Seiberling to use bear mace.
“I could tell that it was probably blinded,” he said to Redheaded Blackbelt.
The bear was slowed, but continued to charge Seiberling. That’s when he pulled out his knife and stabbed the bear. He then sprayed the bear again with mace and ran for safety. He looked back to see the bear collapse, but continued to flee from the scene in a hurry.
The ordeal threw off Seiberling’s schedule, trapping him on the trail for two additional nights amid worsening weather conditions and high tides. He managed to maintain his composure until he safely reached his vehicle and was met by a search helicopter. He was then examined by Shelter Cove Fire Department for injuries.
The incident has sparked discussions among local authorities and the King Range National Conservation Area Manager, emphasizing the rarity of bear encounters in the area and the importance of proper food storage to avoid attracting wildlife. Shelter Cove’s Fire Chief also highlighted the critical need to check weather conditions before embarking on such treks, especially with the forecast of severe storms.
The Lost Coast Trail is a remote section of the Northern California shoreline, including the 68,000 acres of protected landscape called the King Range National Conservation Area. The area is a smorgasbord of wildlife activity, with bears, mountain lions, elk, elephant seals, golden eagles, and peregrine falcons all calling it home. Twice a day, the trail disappears due to high tide.