Morgan Visalli and Jocelyn Enevoldsen arrived at Arroyo Burro Beach early Friday afternoon in high spirits, excited, like the dozens of other beachgoers sprawled in the midday sun, that the morning marine layer had finally burned off.
With their bathing suits and picnic lunches in tow, the self-named duo “MoJo” was prepared to enjoy what they’ve triumphantly marked on their calendars as their 76th beach day in a row.
With the help of a $50,000 grant from the California Coastal Conservancy, Mo and Jo, both graduates of UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, are now on the tail end of a 1,200-mile walk down the California Coastal Trail. On their backs, they’ve carried their gear — clothes, GPS trackers, cameras, and an arsenal of batteries — for more than 875 miles.
Mo and Jo’s three-month adventure began May 1 at Pelican State Beach, just below the Oregon border. Dutifully shared on Facebook, Instagram, and their MoJo Coastwalk blog, the trip is one of approximately 40 projects behind the development of the California Coastal Conservancy’s soon-to-be Explore the Coast smartphone app.
The app will provide users with a detailed, up-to-date guide of cultural, biological, and historical points of interest along the trail.
“Today we stopped at the Goleta Slough for awhile because there were some really nice birds out there,” said Jocelyn, when asked about the content collecting process. “We usually try to do one important point for the app per day, so we’ll usually stop and shoot for awhile.”
The app is the newest part of a California Coastal Conservancy plan that began 28 years ago, according to the California Coastal Trail Association website, with the help of longtime activists Bill and Lucy Kortum, who walked with Mo and Jo as they passed through Bodega Bay.
“We really hope that this app will continue to encourage public demand for the trail’s completion,” said Jo, anticipating that the 1,200 miles of rugged terrain, bike paths, and walking trails will one day be fully connected. The Coastwalk now is only halfway complete.
On a strict schedule of 12 miles a day and a speed of approximately 2 miles an hour, Mo and Jo have been planning their Coastwalk, with the help of pro tips from retired Coastwalk Executive Director Richard Nicholas, since early 2016, when the duo presented their plans to the Coastal Conservancy Board. The trip down the coast is made easier with the company of their two dogs, and traveling partner and van driver Alisan Amrhein, who takes care of logistics, additional equipment, and a much raved about pot of morning oatmeal. The two tent camp in California state parks each night.
“We are more plugged in than we ever have been in our lives,” said Jocelyn, as she discussed the irony of a backpacking trip so reliant on technology. “Most of the time people go into nature to unplug, but we are geared out.”
On rest days, Mo and Jo are busy updating social media, creating written content for the app, and meeting with local conservationists and political leaders. They also invite others to walk with them to further promote their cause.
Last Friday afternoon, Mo and Jo, set to end their day at East Beach, were both excited and sad to admit that they only had 20 days left of the trip. The final stop at Mexico’s border on August 4 will include a bittersweet celebration with friends, coworkers, and family members.
“We’ve seen whales breaching in the sunset, and just to see something that big in its natural environment really strikes a chord,” said Mo. “We’re able to see things that not everyone in the world gets to see. It’s such a special experience.”