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Why I Love California's Northern Coast

It's green and lush. It's wild and unpredictable. It's one of my favorite places I've ever been.

By: Benjamin Canevari + Save to a List

Backpacker Magazine put out a request for photos of the Sonoma Coast to their photographer call list. I didn't have any extra original photos to give them. So I jumped at the opportunity to run out there and see what I could get!

I brought my buddy Justin along, who is great because he's more than willing to walk up and down the same hill six times while I take photos from different spots trying to get the perfect shot.

We left a little late Tuesday evening and took the scenic route through the hills along Highway 128. We arrived at Still Water Cove Campground at about 10pm that night. We set up the tent, cracked open a couple beers by the fire that was not lit, and settled in. We decided against night photography as it was a little cloudy, very cold, and we were waking up early to hike through the dark and be out and about for sunrise.

A few very short hours later we woke up and set out, paying for the site on our way back to the highway. We honestly didn't have a very good idea on where we should go for our morning hike. After driving for a little bit we parked at Goat Rock and decided to start hiking south along the coast. Before we got very far at all, mother nature decided she wanted to show us what she's got.

I had Justin walking up and down this hill as the clouds over the ocean were a nice soft shade of pink. I was going over my shots and decided I was too far away and couldn't see Justin very well at all. So I asked him to come back down so I could move and start again. I looked back to see where the sun was at, and stared into a giant wall of white fog rolling towards me. Fast. I actually had the urge to turn around and run!

The fog completely enveloped us and I had no chance of getting the photo I wanted. So we decided to hike it up to the top of the hill and see if we could get above the fog.

We made it. And I'll tell you, there is nothing that compares to an unobstructed view of the rugged coast line with weather like we had. 

Okay I guess it was a little obstructed...but I'm fine with it! This golden light was really something special. It was cold and windy on top of that hill, and yet with the golden sun blasting through the fog, we were standing there grinning like fools in complete awe of what was going on around us. I had a hard time remembering I was supposed to be photographing all of this. Everywhere you looked was another beautiful view, I couldn't decide where to shoot! So we did it all!

Once the weather started to mellow out a little bit we decided to continue with our hike. I don't have a lot of photos to show of this as they've been submitted to the magazine. But here is a quick shot of some of the flowers lining the trails and dramatic weather we had all morning.

Morning fog on the coast is pretty regular. But you can never be sure. Weather apps rarely tell you if you'll get it or not. I love the fog. I love the eeriness of it, and I love the way it coats the hills along the coastline. It really makes for some pretty special views.

I had to get my photos in to Backpacker that day. Since there is no service along the coast, I drove us in to Guerneville to hang at the Starbucks inside the Safeway there. They had wifi that was just good enough for me to send off the email with my submissions. Fingers crossed!

We hung around the coast throughout the day. Exploring and taking photos and waiting to see what the weather would do towards sunset. It grew to be pretty gray and overcast as the morning went on. But it was still great to be out in the fresh air. Rolling along Highway 1 with the windows down and taking everything in.

Side note: These boots from Lems Shoes are fantastic. I have flat feet, wearing shoes that have arch support is killer on my body when I have to be up walking around a bunch. These minimalist boots are awesome, very comfy and they're so flexible. I love being able to feel what's beneath my feet. Whether I'm walking down a steep slope, or hopping over rocks. I can't recommend these enough if you're looking for a great and minimal shoe.

We decided sunset wasn't going to be worth waiting around for four more hours. So we made our way back home. We didn't stop to skate Highway 1 as it was pretty busy. We didn't have time to get as far north as I would have liked. But there was a section of road on 128 that we just had to stop at. The trees forming a kind of tunnel. You just have to stop for some roads...

Made it home with time to unpack, edit some of my favorite photos, and relax for a bit before bed. The Northern Coast is amazing, I can't get enough of it, every time I go back it gets better and better. I'm always left wanting more. Next trip is Mendocino and on up to the Lost Coast! Should be one for the books!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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