Lost Coast Round Two (film)

On round two of the Lost Coast I decided to take along the Canon AE-1.  I thought about bringing the 7D but it's so bulky and there's such heightened risk of damage that I decided to go with the more durable film camera.  In the end it turned out great.  I got to practice shooting film all week and never had to worry about the camera getting a little banged around.  As nice as digital is, this time old school durability was the better choice.

Starting out at the Mattole River trailhead.  Not sure what Bentley is doing here, perhaps he was still adjusting to the weight of his pack.  More likely he was just messing around.

Beach at the mouth of the Mattole River.  Sunset, looking north.

Driftwood at Mattole Beach.  We camped here on our first night at the BLM campground and endured mighty offshore winds that nearly blew the tent down.  But the wind meant no fog which in turn meant incredible visibility all the way up and down the coast, visibility that lasted all week long.

Trail marker with Punta Gorda in the distance.

Hiking south the wind was at our backs the whole way, often at gusts of up to 35-40mph. On the beaches the bursts blew sand so hard that it stung the backs of our bare legs and hurt enough to make us stop walking to wait out the gust for the sharp sudden pain.  It was less viscous on the packed earth trails though some of the more severe gusts did feel like they might knock us over.

The morning of the third day was once again windy and clear.  I woke early and couldn't go back to sleep as the wind was blowing the wall of the tent in my face, so I hiked down to the beach to watch the sunrise.

View at sunrise up Big Creek Canyon toward our camp.  The canyon was wide at the mouth but mostly rocky creek bed, so we hiked up and set down for the night back in the pines.  In the evening we saw a bear across the creek up on a side hill foraging for berries.  He disappeared into the brush and luckily didn't visit us later in the night coming after our food.

Sunrise on the pines.

That morning the light was so good that I couldn't stop taking pictures.  I finished off a roll of film and had to quickly pop in another roll before I lost the good light.  While I was changing rolls the wind kicked up so much that I noticed right offshore great columns of wind bearing down on the ocean, kicking up twenty foot tall sheets of sea spray that moved outward in large expanding circles across the surface of the water, before they finally dissipated or blew inland and up the cliffs.  I tried, but couldn't quite capture it on film.

Trail moving up off the beach onto hard pack.

We didn't see as much sea life as last time as the only negative tide all week occurred at 4am on our final night so we missed out on good tide pools, though we did see two dead rays washed up on the beach.  This one was fully intact but the other had its wings chewed off, probably by gulls or pelicans.

Look close and you can see a seal balancing itself on the rock taking in some sun. With just my film camera and one lens I couldn't zoom in as far as I wanted but this guy deserved a photo regardless of how far away he was.

On the final night the northerly winds subsided and a warm inland breeze began to blow down the canyon into our camp.  We stayed out on the beach watching the tide come up until after 10pm.  It was so warm we didn't even have to make a fire.  Finally, when the stars came out, we retreated into our tents for the night and in the morning hiked the final five miles into Shelter Cove.

Foray Into Film

By the time I started to get serious about photography, film was already a thing of the past.  A few months ago a friend gave me most of her old film equipment, an old Konica, several lenses and a Canon AE-1, which I used to shoot all of these photos.  I shot my first roll around Middletown, Sausalito, and along the coast at Fort Ross.  Most of them didn't turn out too well, overexposed or underexposed, but a few turned out OK.

The Sausalito docks and yacht club.  I used an old roll of film that my mom dug up from somewhere around the house.  When film gets old the colors can get a little off, which is probably why most of these photos look a little yellow.  It wasn't what I was expecting, but I think it adds an interesting effect.

I brought the AE-1 along with me to a weekend visit to Fort Ross, an old fur hunting outpost that the Russians maintained from about 1812-1842 as they sought to colonize North America.  It was the southernmost of Russia's holdings in the new world and a hub for trade between Natives, Russians, and the newly independent Mexican government.

Russian Orthodox chapel at the fort.  Though it was technically a military settlement and heavily fortified, Fort Ross was so far out in the middle of nowhere that no one ever bothered to attack the few hundred Russians stationed there.  On the contrary, relations with the Indians were almost always friendly and visitations by Mexican soldiers were too infrequent to ever be a problem.  A docent at the fort told us that every few years the Mexican government would send a contingent up to kick out the Russians, and every time the Russians would tell the Mexicans that they weren't authorized to abandon their post and to contact Moscow directly, which of course back then had to be done in person or by mail, both of which could take as long as six months to a year.  Even today it's pretty far removed from the rest of California's bustling population.

Rugged coastline at Fort Ross state park.

South of Fort Ross at Jenner, where the Russian River exits into the Pacific.