Hitting the Trail with MoJo Coastwalk

Photo Credit: Beth Schlanker, Press Democrat

Photo Credit: Beth Schlanker, Press Democrat

Coastwalkers Morgan Visalli and Jocelyn Enevoldsen have built their lives and their friendship on a shared love of the sea. These ladies live and breathe all things ocean, and have collectively worked on many ocean issues—kelp forest research, fisheries management, marine mammal conservation, wetland restoration, and environmental education just to name a few! These “sea sistas” met in Santa Barbara and bonded over their obsessive love for the beach, surfing, scuba diving, swimming, kayaking… any and all things ocean.

These two are no strangers to Salty Girl Seafood. We all met in graduate school while working toward our Master’s degrees at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. After graduating from the Bren School and spending a year working on ocean policy issues for government agencies, “Mo and Jo” traded in their computer screens for sunscreen and hit the beach—for 96 days!

These Salty Girls hiked the entire length of the California coastline in an effort to raise awareness about coastal conservation and public access to California’s beaches, which belong to all of us. For 1,200 sandy miles on the California Coastal Trail, these long distance hikers fueled-up on Salty Girl Seafood, staying energized with sustainable protein.

What is the California Coastal Trail and why is it important?

Always within sight, sound or smell of the Pacific Ocean, the California Coastal Trail is a public path that stretches along California’s stunning coastline from Oregon to Mexico. Right now the trail is about halfway complete. The dream is to connect the fragmented segments of coastal trail into a braided network of public walking and biking paths spanning 1,200 miles down the entire coast! When complete, the CCT will pass through every coastal community in California, connecting us with a physical path, and also uniting us in a shared vision of coastal protection, stewardship, and access.

California Coastal Trail markers are signed throughout the trail.

California Coastal Trail markers are signed throughout the trail.

We fell in love with the CCT because it connects us to the ocean and to each other as people of the sea. We decided to thru-hike the trail to help raise awareness about the CCT and jumpstart a movement to get the trail completed. Our adventure MoJo Coastwalk was born—part thru-hike, part outreach campaign, and part mapping initiative to help future hikers on the CCT.

On May 1st, 2016 we began our thru-hike at the Oregon border. Each day we walked about 12 miles of coastline, while also filming a short video series, taking photos, posting on social media, recording our route with GPS devices, taking meticulous trail notes, hosting outreach events, and meeting with reporters. We were busy to say the least, but it was the most rewarding work ever! Inspired by mama ocean and energized by the amazing people we met along the trail, we made it to the Mexico border 96 days later on August 4th.

As marine conservationists, we loved spreading the message of coastal stewardship along the way. It is up to all of us to protect and care for the coast and ocean. There are so many ways to be a coastal steward, and we integrate coastal stewardship into our daily lives by cutting down on disposable plastic use, picking up trash on the beach, and eating seafood that is sustainably harvested.

That is why we were SO STOKED to have lots of smoked Salty Girl Seafood on the trail. Lightweight, delicious, and packed with protein, it was the perfect thing to keep us fueled down the coast. Our go-to trail lunch was smoked albacore or salmon with crackers, avocado, and cucumber. One sunny day in Sonoma we delighted in a Salty Girl lunch at Salt Point State Park. Supa salty!

Smoked Albacore with crackers, avocado and cucumber on the trail!

Smoked Albacore with crackers, avocado and cucumber on the trail!

What was the best (and worst) part of your nomadic journey down the coast?

Our days along the CCT were full of beach walking and tidepooling, whales breaching at sunset and elk grazing at sunrise. Walking allowed us to slow down and appreciate the big and the small, from the vast, breathtaking coastal scenery, to the tiny shells and wildflowers at our feet. We felt rejuvenated by mother earth, and challenged by her, too. It wasn’t all sunshine and whales! It was also rain and poison oak, blisters and wind, being lost and tired and sore. We had to bushwhack through thickets of prickly thistle, thorny blackberry, and stinging nettle, while sliding down muddy mountain slopes.

And because the CCT is not fully complete, we hit fences and “No Trespassing” signs, were routed along dangerous stretches of highway, and were forced to skirt around rocky points at low tides. Most of our days were dictated by the tides, as many stretches of beach are impassable when the water is high. So through it all, we lived by the moons and the tides; getting in sync with the simplest rhythms in life. It was pure bliss.

MoJo Coastwalk

What does being a Salty Girl mean to you?

Being a Salty Girl is being connected with the ocean. We’re at home here. We feel wild and free when we’re submersed in the cool, salty sea. We love sharing this sacred space with dolphins and whales and all ocean creatures. We are fish women. We can fully be ourselves in the ocean.

There is a sense of timelessness when you look out to sea, turn your back on land and civilization, and realize that you’re connected with all living things. You can look out to the horizon and imagine yourself there one thousand years earlier, seeing the same view, feeling the same breeze. Being a Salty Girl is about a deep love for this connection.

But it’s also something more. It’s about standing up for the ocean. It’s about recognizing that the ocean is a fragile ecosystem threatened by development, pollution, overfishing, and climate change. It’s about working together to heal and protect the planet so that all beings can survive and thrive. It’s about dedicating ourselves to small daily actions of coastal stewardship, and inspiring others to do the same.

Being a Salty Girl is also about lifting up our fellow Salty Girls, and celebrating their work on behalf of the oceans. We are so proud to tell people about Salty Girl Seafood and so proud of our awesome friends for making sustainable seafood accessible, delicious, and fun!

Connect with MoJo Coastwalk on instagram or facebook.

MoJo Coastwalk