The young fisherman lifted his rod and gear, then one sodden leg, and the second, over a fallen redwood tree blocking the trail.
"Did you catch anything?" I asked.
"That's a bummer," I replied, and stepped out of the way to let him pass. "From what I hear nobody is getting anything this weekend."
"Yeah, it's been that way for the past few years," he said as he headed in the direction of camp. His voice fading, he concluded, "It's kind of a drag."
Klaus the dog and I had arrived at the campground in Gualala Point Regional Park on California's Sonoma Coast the previous day. After maneuvering the camper into a snug spot surrounded by moss-covered trees including the odd redwood, a middle-aged man with unkempt Mountain Dew-colored hair, a wrinkled, stained and faded camouflage shirt, worn light blue jeans and untied muddy tan boots approached with his dog, an older medium-sized mutt that I suspected had a fair amount of Labrador retriever in him.
"I love your rig, man," he declared. Our dogs sniffed each other, becoming fast friends, while we discussed our respective abodes. He introduced his dog as Fisher.
"But most people call him Mr. Fisherman since he's always out fishing with me."
They'd been out for steelhead trout that make an annual run in the river this time of year, he said, but so far the fish hadn't even nibbled.
"You here to fish too?" he asked, more like a statement than a question.
"Nope. I'm here to hang out, probably do some hiking," I replied. "I'm going to head out in a minute. If I leave soon I think we can get to the beach and back before dark."
He mentioned a couple other good trails in the area and walked away. When he reached his campsite he hollered, "Most people this weekend are here to fish! But you're not here to fish, right?"
"That's right," I said, wondering if he'd forgotten that quickly, if he didn't believe somebody would be here if not to fish, or for some other reason.
The trail weaved under increasingly dense foliage through some walk-in camp sites, and crossed a walking bridge over a small creek that led into a clearing that I imagine had quite the view of the surrounding hills.
But not that day. The fog was so thick I could see only the vague outline of a bridge over the Gualala River that in its final few miles forms the boundary of Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
Beyond the bridge, large wooden steps and multiple switchbacks made bearable what would otherwise be a challenging scramble up a large hill.
More twisted moss-covered trees reached into the trail at the top. They reminded me of the trees that trap characters in the Netflix series "Stranger Things."
But the trees didn't catch us. Credit goes to my ferocious if diminutive companion.
A few minutes before the sun set we arrived at the bluffs. But what sun there was left remained shrouded behind fog. Realizing we'd soon be stuck in the dark with the spooky trees I sped back to camp.
The following morning I was lured from slumber by a bird singing in a nearby tree.
A large dog greeted us when we stepped out of the camper, then Mr. Fisherman and finally his owner.
"Robbie is too friendly for his own good," he grumbled, gently grabbed the dog's collar and pushed him in the direction of their site. Klaus followed.
Mr. Fisherman's owner said he and a bunch of other campers were heading to the riverbank to test their luck. I said we'd stop by to see them later but first I was determined to check out the beach.