Another early morning wake up call, on our first day heading towards the car instead of away from it. Some people do this hike one way, and get a shuttle pick up at either Shi Shi or Rialto. I don’t know which one would be better, since I’ve never driven in Shi Shi’s parking lot before. I think, if we do this trip again, we might take that option. In part to get to see Shi Shi’s parking lot, and because doing 10 days is intense. We might not want that much intensity next time, especially if we invite guests. 

I don’t know about Ambrose, but I was torn. On the one hand, I’d love to loaf around Shi Shi Beach for another day. But we only had food for so many days. I got a move on, settling into the routine of getting ready easily by this point. Packing your pack the first morning takes a lot longer than packing it on the sixth. At least for me it does. That first morning, I need to figure out my routine, and each day I get a little more efficient. 

Now, I had been carrying, for the last 6 days, supplies to take care of my expected menstrual period. I’ve worked out a fairly reliable prediction method for myself in recent years, and I fully expected it to be arriving soon. I’d also been carrying a spare pair of underwear. Yes, I wore the same pair for the past 6 days in a row. I’d meant to only wear it for 5, but then decided to save the fresh pair for the hiking day rather than change to them for the rest day. 

So I put on my fresh, clean pair of underwear while still in the tent. I got most of the way ready, and then I realized that the abdominal pain I’d been experiencing through the morning was likely period cramps. And I checked on myself and realized that I had managed to bleed onto my fresh, clean underwear. A good thing that I wasn’t going to be carrying the tampons for nothing, but oh so frustrating to no longer have clean underwear so abruptly. 

Ambrose took one last trip past the maze log to the privy, but I didn’t feel the need for that. I was pretty sure we’d make it to at least North Ozette before I needed a privy. I mean, I was hopeful. I knew we could make it physically based on the tides, but whether we’d make it there before my body wanted to dig a hole, well, no guarantees. 

We said goodbye to Shi Shi Beach and headed down the coast, ready to revisit the rugged coast and overland ropes. While we’d talked, briefly, about bringing a rope over to extend the first we were going to encounter, we did not end up bringing any rope along. I had another plan, but first we had to get there. 

We hit the tides at the perfect time. No need for stopping, and we technically could have skipped the hole with the carcass in it, but I didn’t smell it so I thought it was gone. The thing was, I didn’t smell it because the prevailing winds were coming from my back. I only smelled it after I stepped carefully over it, and the smell followed me. 

When we got to the rope up to the first overland trail, I decided to try something different. I’d noted, while waiting for Ambrose to climb down on the way out, that there seemed to be a path around the rear. I didn’t explore it at the time because the tide was high enough to obscure parts of it. But now, the tide was plenty low. I walked around the rock and found an easier way up. Instead of going up the wet crack on half a rope, I got to make some big steps up fairly dry clay. 

Ambrose still went the other way, but that’s only because he wasn’t paying attention to my antics until it was too late. He was already on the rope. 

I hiked ahead of him since I managed to get up first. That allowed me the dubious privilege of finding every spider web along this section of the trail with my face. Normally, I’d swing my trekking pole in front of my face to catch them, but this overland trail is incredibly overgrown. I mean, the trail is clear enough, it’s just that it’s through a temperate rainforest. Things grow here! And when they grow close to the trail, I need to use my trekking poles to help shove myself through. 

In fact, on these overland trails, it’s better not to stick the trekking pole into the ground, but rather use it for stabilization (not shoving hard!) and bush whacking. The reason for that is that the ground is easily penetrated by the narrow tips of the poles. Put enough pressure on them, and they sink right into the ground. 

We made our way around and down to the end of this overland trail, which is where the freshwater stream is. We did not end up getting any water, but we did use the “shortcut” trail across the stream to reduce the number of logs that we needed to get around/over to get to the next overland trail, right across the beach. 

This overland trail is the most adventurous when it comes to terrain. More ups and downs, plenty of bushes to shove through, and lots of small roped sections leading down to the next beach. There are parts where it feels like you might get lost, and that’s the time to look for the little orange tags affixed to the trees. If you don’t see any the way you are going, it might be time to turn back and find the last one you passed… 

The next beach was where the overland trail came down not to the beach, but rather to a tumble of rocks. We got down to the big, tilted slab, and then had to pick our way on the boulders back to the rocky sand. Somehow, it was much easier than it had been a couple days before. The reduced food weight probably played a factor, along with the wonderful rest day on Shi Shi. 

After that, we had the surprise point traverse. The water was sufficiently low, and we crossed that point with a minimum of drama. We did end up climbing back up the way we came, but the descent seemed less treacherous than the ascent had a few days before. 

That led us to the final roped trail of the day, and we were making excellent progress. I was a bit sad to already be here, in fact, because I enjoy the roped sections a lot. Walking through the forests of the coast is like walking through a fairyland to me. Mist catching in tree branches that spread in seemingly impossible arrays, moss growing over everything like an enchanted carpet, and the abrupt hush of the otherwise ever-present crashing of the ocean waves all contribute to making those sections special. 

Alas, this roped section is the shortest one, and we were back onto beach in no time at all. Now, we just needed to cross a little section of rocky beach, and then we’d get to see how much easy sand walking the low tide had left for us. 

There’s no way to completely skip the rocks of the particular point, but we avoided climbing high like we had to the very first time we came this way. Just regular sized boulder scrambling, nothing too big or too complicated. Wet though, it was definitely wet. 

But not long, and we made it to the nice sandy section, just after another hiker passed us going towards Shi Shi. The weird thing about that hiker was that he wasn’t carrying anything at all. I chatted with him a bit, and it turned out he was staying at Seafields. And moments later, I saw his companion sitting on some rocks, as if she hadn’t wanted to keep going once it got super rough. 

On the nice sand, Ambrose and I started really going fast. The hope was that we would be able to make it across the Ozette River before the incoming high tide made it impassable. In order to do that, we needed to get there as fast as we possibly could. 

Well, not quite as fast as we possibly could. We did have one stop scheduled, and that was to get water at Seafields. The easy sand got us most of the way there. Then we had to traverse more rocky beach before finally pulling up to stop at Seafields. We dumped our packs at an unoccupied fire ring and headed off to fill our water bags. The one thing about the Ozette River campsites is that they lack reliable access to freshwater because of how the tide pushes saltwater upriver, and so I was putting my foot down as leader of the trip. We were carrying water with us this last stretch to camp, like it or not (Ambrose did not). 

It turned out that we weren’t alone at Seafields. A large group of youths was gathered up right where the access to the creek was. They were collecting and hauling out beach trash, for which Ambrose and I thanked them as we passed. 

The route to get water at Seafields is neither obvious nor easy. It’s not as much of a log maze as Shi Shi, but I’d say a bit more treacherous, especially because you have to come back hauling water bags along this maze. Balance is required, and grippy shoes definitely help. Where the water pools is another magical vista, with sunbeams drifting through the trees, and the streambed looking like a path to another realm. 

Ambrose and I filled both filled our dirty water bags, and then navigated our way back to our packs. We filled our water bladders and our water bottles, and then I took one of the dirty water bags back for more. Normally, we don’t carry extra water when walking, but I was making an executive decision to do it this time. The water at the Ozette River campsites is not as reliable as one would think, because the river is directly connected to the ocean and rises and falls with the tide. Rather than try to time it or hike upstream, we were going to be carrying about 5 liters each. 

While Ambrose finished filtering, I hopped onto a nearby buoy swing to have a little fun spinning. I do get a kick out of those. 

Then it was time to get hiking. I stowed my extra water in my pack, but Ambrose chose to carry his in his hand, leaving himself one trekking pole short. 

That wasn’t actually that bad, because the beach we had to traverse to get to the river was mostly flat. But before we got to the next sweet section of flat, damp sand, we had a lot of rocky beach to walk. 

I moved ahead of Ambrose, since he was being held back by his grudging acceptance of the extra water he was carrying. There were a couple more groups of trash collecting young people, but I didn’t interact with them. I did stop to chat with a couple who were sitting on the beach admiring the views, and I had them take a photo of my card. It would be wild to find either of those couples that I gave cards to, now that I’m posting videos of the trip, but no one has stepped forward so far. 

While I was chatting, Ambrose slipped ahead of me. He wasn’t going to be stopping, not with a bag of water in his hand! But that just gave me incentive to catch up to him. I like to sing the Jaws theme as I move up on him, and it’s always fun. Especially when I get close enough that he can hear me. 

We had to walk through some large rocks piles, but no real climbing was involved. Ambrose’s lack of a trekking pole didn’t hamper him going through. And then we got to the lovely sand and started going really fast. 

North Ozette was hopping, just full of people, and I was very glad it was NOT our destination. It seemed like a big group of kids, running around and playing. We walked over a sand tunnel one kid was digging. A couple of folks who seemed separate from the big group came over to me and asked if I knew about campsites. I didn’t give them as much information as I possibly could because I wanted to be sure that I got across the river before the tide rose too high, but I hope they found a spot. There are a lot of spots back there, but the big group could have taken every single one. 

The river was sufficiently low to cross when I arrived at its shore. Ambrose was a bit behind me, and he asked why I was waiting when he got close. I had to explain that I wasn’t going to cross a body of water without my hiking partner – something he taught me 🙂 

I plowed right into the water, because my waterproof socks had shown their meddle. I was in no fear of getting wet feet. But Ambrose had chosen not to bring his waterproof socks (a choice he did, and does, regret), so I paused to ask him if he wanted to do a boots-off crossing. (I even have this one video, just in case he forgets.) He said no. 

This turned out to be the wrong decision, but how could he know at that point that the sun we would get at South Ozette would be merely decorative, conveying absolutely no heat? How could he have known that the wind, though blowing steadily, was so full of moisture that it had no drying effects whatsoever? 

After we had both crossed, I made a beeline for the path going up on the left. I knew from experience that it led to campsites, because I’d come up here in 2018 to use the privy. There was another trail, on the right, and Ambrose decided to check that out because it didn’t have a rope like mine did. Well, it didn’t have a rope at the start anyway. 

My path was steep, but short, and in no time I’d hauled myself up to the campsite. Ambrose got lost, kind of. I mean, I lost him. So I dropped my pack and went hunting for him, bringing him over to the campsite via a little used path that made us both duck under overhanging branches. 

We chose the campsite overlooking the river, and started to settle in, changing over to camp shoes and setting the wet things out to dry in what would turn out to be a vain endeavor. 

When I visited this campsite in 2018, I thought it would be easy to find a spot to pitch a tent, but now that I was actually needing to pitch a tent, all the ground seemed to slope. The surface was great, a nice cushy layer of detritus, not a lot of plant growth. But it took me a while to find a spot that was flat enough for the tent. 

I got the tent pitched, we ate lunch and relaxed a bit while watching the tide roll in. And then, I went to the tent. I got into the tent. And I took myself one of the best naps I’ve ever had. I don’t know what it is about napping in a tent, but those are the best naps. 

I woke in the late afternoon, right around when Ambrose was getting ready to cook dinner for us. I checked on the wet gear that I’d arrayed to get some sun or wind, but everything was still wet. Not damp, wet. The afternoon sun filtering through the trees was illuminating and beautiful, but conveyed no heat. The wind that blew near constantly through the site would ordinarily have been great for drying things, but that wind was so overladen with moisture that it may have been making our gear even wetter. Looking back from hindsight, it was obvious we weren’t going to get anything dry there, because when we’d camped at North Ozette, there was so much moisture in the wind that we thought it was raining! 

Another couple showed up while we were working on dinner. They found a nice little alcove to pitch their tent and didn’t talk to us at all – not even a wave was exchanged. Which is a bit of a shame for them, because if we’d been on speaking terms, I would have alerted them when the deer showed up. 

See, we’re just visitors at this campsite. And the deer who live in the area don’t care that we’re there. A deer showed up, munched on some plants, and then moseyed off, calm as can be. No fear deer! 

Although I would have liked to chat a bit with our neighbors, I’m glad they were quiet. Better quiet neighbors than party animals keeping us up all night. Or rather, up past “hiker midnight” aka 9 pm. We planned to sleep in a little bit the next morning, so we didn’t have to go to bed at 8. Every day that we hiked, the tides changed their timings by an hour or so, which meant that if we’d gotten up at the normal time, we would have been too early for the lowest tides when we needed them. 

It’s bad etiquette to leave one’s tent door opened. Not just for polite society’s sake, but because when the door to a tent is open out in the woods, many woodland creatures innocently take that as an invitation to come on inside, make oneself at home. The consequences will vary. Sometimes, you get lucky and nothing happens. Other times, a mouse might get to your food or a mosquito might feast on your blood. What I didn’t expect was to find that a bee had nestled itself well into my sleeping quilt. So, the scene is Ambrose and I, sitting in the tent after dinner, because it was too cold to be outside the tent. I feel a stinging/pinching sensation on my leg, but it’s not urgently painful, and I kind of think it’s just some random pain due to all the stress I’ve put my muscles through over the last week of hiking. The pain becomes a bit more persistent and I decide to check it out.

It was a bee. A bee in my quilt, nestled in and defending its territory as if I were the intruder here. I only panicked a little bit, flinging the quilt away from my legs and trying to figure out how to get the bee out without touching it. I grabbed a stick from outside and coaxed the bee onto it before flinging the whole thing out the tent door. All the while Ambrose is trying to coach me to get rid of the bee his way, but I’m already deep into my way and can’t listen. So now I’ve been stung by a bee. Not as bad as I thought it would be.

Despite the nap, I had no trouble falling asleep. The wind rushing through the trees formed a counterpoint with the distant sounding waves of the ocean, lulling me back down as I snuggled deep into my quilt. 

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