Sleeping in is nice, even if it’s only until 5:30 in the morning. And it’s also nice to wake up within easy walking distance of the privy. Sure, the metal seat is cold in the morning, but it’s much better than trying to find a place to dig a hole.

Ambrose and I got ready with the ease of practice, marveling at how light our bear canisters had become after eating more than half our collective food. There were no signs of wakefulness from the other campsite, so we made an effort not to be noisy. 

We left by a different path than either of the two that we came up on. Those paths were best going to and from the north. Now that we were going south, a different path would give us a shortcut past the first point. The path wasn’t quite like I remembered it, but I’d scouted it the day before, and I knew it went through. We were able to use it to descend despite the fact that a large tree had fallen across the bottom of it. Good thing there was a rope! 

After that, we navigated the beach to the next point. This was the one that we had to use the overland trail for on the way north, but we’d timed it right this time. No need for climbing up the rope! Instead, we navigated across slick rocks encrusted with seaweed and corals and crustaceans. I was a bit nervous that we’d run into the drop that had stopped us from coming up this way, but the water really was much lower. We did have to navigate a bit of a drop, but the drop had “steps” that made it possible. And after we came down from there, I spotted the other drop that we’d managed to avoid. Whew!

More sand, and then one last, relatively easy point led us to a nice stretch of damp sand leading to the Cape Alava campsite. Ambrose and I noted that there were several fresh water sources along this stretch of beach, as well as campsites. If we ever camp near Alava again, then we’ll plan to come out this way instead of staying near the trailhead (and privy) where it gets crowded. 

And, of course, by the time we were approaching Alava, I was ready to find that privy. I cut over to the bluffs a bit too soon, but I did find my way to the trails that wind through the campsites, surprising a few folks whose sites I stumbled through. And, lucky me, there was no wait for the privy this time. I didn’t take a video of this particular privy, but I did get some pictures. It’s easily the most interesting privy on the route, as it is a “urine-separator” privy. The surface upon which one’s business will fall is tilted and textured. The tilt allows urine to run off towards the front, and the texture helps hold poop and toilet paper on the surface. The final step is to step on a lever that rotates the surface, bringing that refuse to the rear. It’s a lot less smelly than the other privies are, that’s for sure. 

After that business, I met back with Ambrose near the bridge across the little creek that supplies the Alava campsite with fresh water. We took a water break, though we didn’t need to filter at that point, just drink. Then we headed off to the only hard part of the day, Wedding Rocks. 

Right after Cape Alava, the beach gets rough. No longer the nice, damp sand, it fragments to the rocky beach. Each step sinks in, calling forth extra effort. There are more downed trees blocking the way. Sometimes they were nice and high so I could just step right under them, but there were a fair number that posed more interesting problems. 

Some of them had go-around trails leading around the back. We took them when we noticed them, since that side would always be drier than going around the front. Well, almost always. Sometimes there was a seep of water in the back, but not very often. 

There were also campsites hidden up on the bluff. We walked by a few with signs of occupation, though no one seemed to notice our passage. Some folks were still asleep. 

There are two points to cross at Wedding Rocks. They both have overland trail options, but I don’t like either of the overland trails. The one we were coming up to first has a couple of issues. One, this side doesn’t have a great path; it’s been worn away quite a bit. Two, it goes up. And I mean, really really far up. With a loaded pack, it’s not the most fun, but I’d love to go explore it some time with just a day pack. 

I led us out onto the rocks well before we needed to. I was able to because the tide was so low. Instead of rocky beach, we got to walk on wet rocks. The wet rocks had the advantage of giving a bit better traction than the dry rocks of the beach, AND they completely avoided the downed trees near the shore. After rounding that point, we headed back to rocky beach for another stretch. 

At the second point, we again avoided the overland. It also goes up way higher than it should, and there was no point in going way up there when we had such a lovely low tide to take advantage of. I led the way around the rocks, feeling excited at how early it still was. We were going to get to our camp for the day well before noon. 

Another stretch of rocky beach led us to the Sandpoint overland trail, which we took. We could have gone around the point, but, for me personally, I didn’t care to walk all the way around the point on all that soft sand. Not when I had a shortcut on nice, loamy dirt, with only the occasional root trying to reach up and trip me. 

I went ahead of Ambrose to get to the privy, which I had hoped would be like the one at Alava. It wasn’t. No urine separator here. But it did have a door that actually shut. I mean, it didn’t latch, but there was a rope that allowed you to hold it shut. Helpful! 

Ambrose and I decided that we’d camp on the beach. We both enjoy sleeping on soft sand, and we were both tired of being stuck in the chilly trees. I think if it had been a hot trip, with temps in the 80s instead of the 60s, I might have wanted to stay in the bluff. But with temps in the 60s, maybe 70s, I wanted to bask in the sun. Luck was with me again, because the marine layer, which had made our morning’s hike a bit misty, had dissolved, allowing the sun to shine on us at last. 

We claimed a spot relatively near to the overland trail, which included a little fort made of driftwood. My first order of business was to lay out the still wet things for drying, especially my boots. The waterproof socks mean that I don’t have to worry about wet boots too much, but I’d rather have things dry. They weigh less, and it’s easier to put on dry boots than wet ones. 

The Softstar Switchback boots that I wore on the coast come with a nice wool liner. I like almost everything about these boots. The one thing that I really don’t like is something that I can fix when I order a new pair (the ocean did a number on them, and I wore them out on my next hike). Namely, they come with the liner firmly taped to the inside of the boot. That’s fine if you don’t want the liner sliding around, but absolutely horrible if you want to get the liner out to dry it. I’ll take my chances with a sliding liner, thanks. 

Ambrose and I didn’t even need to get water right away, because the day’s hike had been so short. We made ourselves a little beach nest, using our sleeping pads and a convenient log as a couch, facing the ocean. I had a collection of stuff, including my water, cameras, and snacks. And sunscreen, though I didn’t do as good of a job with that as I thought I was… I ended up sunburned a little after this beach day. 

The day was almost like another rest day. Nothing (other than camp chores) that we needed to do. I took advantage of the soft sand, using it to lodge my GoPro in place so that I could film myself setting up the tent. I figured that would get me a more consistent result than asking Ambrose to film me – plus, there would be no commentary from the peanut gallery if I didn’t set it up the way he thought best. 

Later, I found that the time it took me to set up was about 8 minutes. Pretty good! Though, technically, I wasn’t done with the pitch when I turned off the camera. The sand was so soft and loose that I wanted us to have rocks on the stakes for security. So I sent Ambrose on a rock hunt, and I hunted rocks, and it took us a while, but we eventually got rocks for all of our stakes. 

The rocks provide additional weight and help keep the stakes from pulling up. It’s not that the stakes are going to pull out on their own, but they hold the tension of the tent’s lines. And, especially at night, it’s easy to trip over those lines. If they aren’t sufficiently secured into the ground, then that trip could collapse the whole tent – with one’s partner inside, being rudely awakened by the commotion. Definitely better to hunt rocks in the day than to deal with that at night. 

The water at Sandpoint is very full of tannins. Even after it’s filtered, it looks like iced tea instead of water. But there’s no tea flavor; it tastes just like water. One of the times that Ambrose and I went together to get water there were a couple of other hikers there. They had Sawyer Squeeze bags and weren’t too happy with the results they were getting, so we told them about the Cnoc water bags. And Ambrose lent our pot to them to help them collect water, since the stream is pretty shallow. Without the pot, getting water into their squeeze bag would have taken a lot longer. 

I spent some time walking along the beach when the tide was high, dancing back from the sparkling waves as they flowed up the damp sand. I even went for a little beach run at one point; not long or far, just some barefoot running to get my body moving; motion as lotion. Ambrose filmed that bit. 

By the time I realized I was getting sunburned, the damage was done. An afternoon of sunbathing after days of not allowing my legs out of the confines of their SPF rated clothing due to the chill in the air resulted in a pair of toasted thighs for me. I used the tea tree balm I was carrying to give them some relief, but I didn’t have any aloe. 

Also by that time of day, the sun was still shining down mercilessly on us, but we were no longer so happy to be basking in its warmth. Ambrose doesn’t have to worry about sunburn as much as I do, but he does need to take care about overheating. We knew well enough to keep drinking through the afternoon, so we weren’t dehydrated, but the sun can still take its toll. And so, Ambrose decided to use his tarp to help convert the little log structure I’d pitched our tent near into a hideyhole we could use to screen ourselves from the sun while still getting some breeze. 

I don’t know how effective it was, but I had a lot of fun playing in my fort. And I was frankly delighted that Ambrose joined me; I wasn’t sure if he was too much of a  grown up to play in a beach fort. We had some mishaps trying to get the tarp secured sufficiently. A log log nearly fell on me after our first attempt, so there was some incentive to fix it up. 

It helped a bit with the sun, but I think I got more out of it from the fun. 

It was nice that we got there so early, because that meant we got our choice of spots. As the day wore on, more and more people arrived, claiming spots to the north and south of our site. There was a group of young people to the south of us who had some fun building their own driftwood structure. We could hear them talking sometimes, but they weren’t excessively loud. All the neighbors were good neighbors. 

I was all too aware that our days on the coast were numbered. That we were headed back to the car in just a couple short days. Sure, there were advantages to getting off the coast, like taking a shower and putting on clean clothes, but there was a part of me that would have been more content to stay on the coast, resupplying and then heading right back out… 

The sun eventually slipped low enough on the horizon that we could flee to our now-shadowed tent. As the evening wore on, clouds materialized overhead, and a fine mizzle began to coat everything.

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