We were expecting the weather to turn in the night, and it did as expected. But it never actually rained. The water just filled the air so completely that condensation was hanging in the air. When I had to get up in the night to relieve my bladder, I didn’t end up putting my shoes back on. I just walked out in my bare feet. The sand was dry underneath a very thin layer of damp sand, and it felt quite nice to bury my feet in that dry sand as I made my way around. 

It was also easier to get even the damp sand off my bare feet than it was to knock wet sand off my camp shoes. I brought way more sand into the tent with those shoes than I did barefoot. 

In the morning, we had to get a move on. Today was the day we were going to be crossing the hardest 5 mile stretch, between Yellow Banks and the Norwegian Memorial. We’d be camping for the night at Cedar Creek, another couple miles past Norwegian, but the critical part for our day is that rough stretch. 

The morning brought a continuation of the misty weather. It wasn’t really raining. I didn’t take my poncho out, because I figured it would be too warm to wear once I started moving. But until I started moving, I was a bit chilly. Not as much as I would have been had I done this on day 2 or 3, because I’d become acclimated, but it wasn’t comfortable. 

I think if I had felt more comfortable that morning, I would have explored a bit more. I would have taken those vague thoughts about the strange round object near one of the logs that we’d been working about the day before and done something with them. Instead, I did nothing, and we ended up leaving the top to our pot at Sandpoint. I hate to leave litter behind, but by the time we realized it was gone, we were already at Cedar Creek (the day’s camp), and there was no going back. 

I kicked myself for not going to check it out when I had spent at least five minutes while waiting for Ambrose to use the privy staring at the mysterious object. So round, so shiny in the misty rain. 

Instead of checking it out, I hiked off. The morning marine layer was still thick, but it allowed enough light through for us to hike with ease. The soft, damp sand helped with the ease part. We were in for a nice easy morning’s hike to start the day at least as far as the terrain was concerned. 

We got to walk past the driftwood fortress that we’d observed the young folks building the day before. They had created quite a nice structure, and even decorated it. 

My body was feeling good after another day of mostly rest. Well, good except for the sunburn gracing the tops of my thighs. I could feel that with every step that I took, as my wet pant leg brushed the tender skin. 

It didn’t take us long to get past South Sandpoint and start in on the real adventure for the day. From Yellow Banks to the Norwegian Memorial are the roughest five miles of the whole North Coast Trail. Yellow Banks itself isn’t too bad, but after that stretch of beach, it’s rough. Wet rocks of various sizes, in all kinds of configurations, with the added challenges of downed trees. It can be a scary time when the tide is coming in, but we were arriving as the tide was still going out. 

On the way up the coast, we’d done it in just over 4 hours, and we’d need to be at least that fast in order to make it to Cedar Creek in one tide cycle. While we could afford to wait for the tide to go back out, it wouldn’t be fun to do so. Not in this weather!

Ambrose was walking a bit slower than in prior days, but he was steady. He kept on going even as the rough got rougher. Up and over damp logs, and trudging across loose, dry rocks, as well as wet ones. There’s a long stretch of coast, and then a small cove to traverse. Because of our timing with the tide, we were able to cut off a large section of the cove, which contributed to our arriving at Norwegian Memorial in less than 4 hours! 

We took a break at the memorial so I could go up and film it. There was a large group of boys camping at the memorial. I spoke to them only to let them know what I was doing, didn’t interact much. Then it was time to get moving again. We had a beach to cross, and then a point. 

But what I really needed at that moment was to get to the privy at Norwegian, about half a mile from the memorial itself. Before I got going fast, I helped Ambrose get his rain poncho arranged around him; since he’d be waiting for me after I used the privy, he’d need it to stay warm. The weather was showing no signs of breaking, continuing to treat us to wind and spitting rain. 

The privy at Norwegian is accessed relatively near the freshwater source for the beach; on the south side of it, there is an orange buoy up in the treeline, and that leads to the path to the privy. The privy itself has three whole walls, and a lot of beach trash decorating it – one of the better ones when it comes to privacy. 

When I went over to the privy, I had a brief conversation with a man who was camping in the bluff nearby. He was carrying a machete and told me he’d driven out to the mountains and then hiked cross-country. I had no idea what path he was talking about, but it sounded like an adventure. 

Coming back out to the beach after my business was concluded, I saw Ambrose standing so that the wind wouldn’t blow up his poncho. It gave him a rakish Spaniard look that I wished I’d had a camera to record, but alas, I’d dropped my pack this time to go to the privy. 

We kept on hiking towards the point. I could see large numbers of little birds flying up in swirls in the direction we were headed. Ambrose called out to me to wait for him, and when he caught up I helped him take the poncho off. On the move, it made him too hot. 

This point isn’t too intense, but the tide was coming in. We tried to move as quickly as reasonable. And with the light pack, I felt more adventurous and daring. I got ahead of Ambrose and encountered a group of people coming the other way just before we made it to Cedar Creek. 

Many times when Ambrose and I are hiking, other people (mostly men) will walk right by me as if I’m invisible and then ask Ambrose for directions. He’ll then refer them to me. This time, I was far enough ahead that a man at the tail end of a group of boys and men asked me how far it was to Cedar Creek. 

I told him with a smile that he had passed right by Cedar Creek already, and that the next water was at Norwegian Memorial. He told me that I was wrong, which surprised me. Because, having spent the last 8 days hiking up and down the coast, I was pretty darn certain that we were, in fact, on approach to Cedar Creek, while this man had hiked right past it. I didn’t try to argue too hard with him about geography, but I could tell he didn’t believe me. 

No matter, I knew where I was and where I was going. I was just coming from Keyostia Beach, where the Norwegian Memorial is located, and I was headed for Cedar Creek, where I’d get to camp for my last night on the North Coast Trail for 2023. 

I’ll admit I got a bit bouldering happy at the end there. My route involved some high boulders and some daring hops. Ambrose chose a different route, but we both made it safely to the sands of Cedar Creek. 

We hadn’t stayed at Cedar Creek on any of our prior trips, and I was excited to check it out. We arrived before lunch, and managed to snag what I think of as the best spot (though there may be better spots that I haven’t found yet). It’s kind of on a corner, and very close to the freshwater source. I made a beeline for it, hoping the people lounging on the logs in front of the spot were not, in fact, camping there (they weren’t). 

The spot is up on a bluff, and I pitched our tent on grass, making sure to avoid a tent opening onto any brambles. Ambrose hung the water filtration system from a buoy someone had attached to a tree limb high above. There was a section of the campsite that had piles of trash; I figured cleanup people had come through at some point and stashed this for later removal, but if there was going to be beach trash it was nice that it was all in a pile. And, frankly, there will always be beach trash because the ocean giveth. 

Water is very easy to get to, though I could definitely understand why that guy didn’t realize he had walked right past Cedar Creek. Unless you know what to look for, the creek doesn’t make much impression while you’re walking on the beach. There’s a bit of flow over the sand, but it’s very easy to miss on a wet day. I knew that the creek was very close to where we camped, and I found a nice path from our site over to the water. 

The water itself was uninspiring, and I could see how people might think it would be contaminated with ocean salt, because the level of the water seems to be below the level of the ocean. But it’s fresh, and even though it looks like you’re getting water from a puddle, it tastes good and filters more clearly than the water at Sandpoint. 

While Ambrose and I got water, I noticed a roped trail leading up a higher bluff than the one we were on. I decided to go ahead and explore, but I didn’t get much out of it. The scramble itself was very scary, especially because I was wearing my camp shoes that have practically no grip left on the bottoms. The dirt was loose, and there seemed to be thorny things growing everywhere. At the top, I did have a nice view of the beach, but there didn’t seem to be anything there worth the rope. There were trails going back and around, and I followed one to find myself back on the beach, but with a bunch of logs between me and where I’d come from. 

I almost turned right back to come back via the rope, but decided I could make the logs if I took it slow and careful. Which I did. 

After we had water, it was time to make lunch. That’s when we discovered that the top to our pot had been left behind. That was the mysterious round object that had winked at me from the dim morning’s rainy light at Sandpoint! Why hadn’t I checked it out at the time?? But it was for the best. We only had to do without it for one night, and when we got home we purchased a pot with better features – specifically with covered handles so we no longer have to worry about bringing a potholder.

When I was pitching the tent, I found a sparking rock quite by accident when it started to spark when I pounded on my tent stakes. I almost burned myself on it, but, of course, when I had finished pitching and tried to make a video of the rock sparking it flatly refused to perform for the camera. Rude!

The weather stayed cloudy all day, but we weren’t counting on the sun to come out. Most of our stuff got mostly dry just by sitting out in the wind. Apparently the wind at Cedar Creek is a bit less moisture laden than the wind up at South Ozette. The campsite had several benches for sitting, and we also brought our sleeping pads out for sitting when it came time to eat lunch. We saw the machete guy walk over from Norwegian, head up into the bluff and then come out later, so his path must be somewhere through that beach, but I have no idea where. 

On this trip, Ambrose and I had taken turns being the designated sender of messages. We both have InReach devices, but our families don’t need to hear from both of us every day, so we took turns. I pretty much only sent the “Hello from today’s location” messages on my days, while he would actually answer questions that his family sent back. I preferred to wait until I was back in cell service to answer questions, because the InReach Mini’s typing interface only lets you select one character at a time. There is, to be fair, a word suggestion list that pops up as you type, but it isn’t always useful. 

I didn’t want this to be the last night, but there was nothing I could do about that. Our food was running so low that it wouldn’t be safe to stay any longer, not to mention that we only had a permit for one more night. 

Other campsites along the beach filled up, but very few of them talked to us, and none camped very near us. The closest group was a father and daughter who were hiking the coast together. I was impressed with a thirteen year old girl being out on this trail, and recommended the site next door to ours. The father did chat with us a bit, but it was interesting that after he left, Ambrose and I had different impressions of how the conversation had gone. I thought it was polite and fine, while he felt that the guy had been trying to get us to give up our campsite. 

I went to bed with the ocean waves in my ears, having finally, on the last night, chosen the side of the tent closest to the ocean. I’d been leaving that one for Ambrose every other night because it tends to be windier and colder on that side, but by this time I was plenty acclimated to the conditions. 

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