The last morning is always bittersweet. On the one hand, I have to leave my ocean home. On the other hand, I will get to shower today. And because Ambrose and I both would prefer to just stay, we tend to get cranky on that last day. Plus we tend to be quite hungry by day 10, and we get hangry, sometimes with each other.

Ambrose was first out of the tent, allowing me the time to take a quick video of the morning tent interior as I continued to pack. On this trip, Ambrose was carrying the tent, which is different from how we used to do it. Before Ambrose’s weight loss, I would carry the cook kit and the tent to reduce his load, but now that he’s fitter, he’s taken the tent back. It’s interesting that the person who has to pack the tent generally gets out of the tent first, no matter which one of us is carrying it. 

We were definitely up earlier than anyone else along the beach. No stirrings from north of us. As we hiked out from our site, we spotted some tents up on the bluff on the south side of the beach. I’ll have to explore that beach more thoroughly next time we hike up that way. There’s supposed to be an old mining site up there, but according to the GPS it’s about 100 feet above sea level, so I haven’t seen any evidence of it yet. 

The early hiking was nice, easy footing, along the damp sand of Cedar Creek’s beach. As we neared the end of the curved beach of Cedar Creek, we spotted otter tracks on the sand, and I also caught sight of several otters hanging out on a rock out in the waves. Birds were also out and about, signaling better weather to come than we’d had the day before. 

Even after we made the little turn away from Cedar Creek’s beach, we were able to walk on nice, damp sand. The easy walking surface allowed us to make excellent time to our required overland for the day. Well, unless we took too long to get to Hole in the Wall… if the tide was blocking our passage there, then we’d definitely take the overland trail there. But that would involve quite a few mistakes and delays and I wasn’t planning on having any of those! 

As we approached the required overland, Ambrose was tempted by the seeming path around the rock that the very low tide revealed. But I was pretty sure the first time we’d come back this way that we’d checked that route out. I vetoed the idea to check it again. 

I also decided that I wanted Ambrose to film me going up and down on this rope. I gave him the GoPro and watched as he made his way up the rope. He stopped at the top to start recording, and then I started making my way up. That ascent is steep, and I appreciated my lighter pack weight as I scrambled up the loose dirt of the path. I didn’t pause long on top, and Ambrose continued to film as I made my way down. 

It was clear, from this side, that the maps were not lying when they indicated that even at the lowest of tides, the overland trail must be used. You’d need to be able to cling to near vertical rock walls to get around that without interacting with the waves. 

We kept on hiking, every step taking us closer to burritos. I have no idea how many times we talked about the burritos that day, but I recorded at least three incidents on the GoPro. They were on both of our minds throughout the morning’s hike. We had found a Mexican food truck in Forks, WA in the days before we started the hike, so we knew these post-hike burritos were going to be good. 

I stopped us for breaks about every hour. It’s interesting how it’s much harder to put off your break when you’re only drinking water when you take your break. A while back, Ambrose and I had been hiking in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and we thought we knew where we were. We were certain enough of the nearness of the next water that we kept hiking through our break time, expecting to see the creek in no time at all. Yeah, it was another hour before we got there and we were both super cranky – and that was with drinking water from bladder tubes on demand! 

Of course, on today’s breaks I had to choose which of my few remaining snacks to eat when. Ambrose actually had more snacks left than I did, so he let me take some of his to last me through the day. He offered more than I took, trying to foist extra weight on me, the sneak. But I was glad to have a little more, calculated to get me through to the car if everything went as planned. 

After the overland is another stretch of nice beach, followed by a rough section. The first time we crossed that rough section, we’d eaten lunch up on a bluff. That bluff, over the intervening 8 years, had begun to fall into the ocean. It was still there, but we didn’t try to take that trail this time. It was easier to stay low on the rocks and just make our way around since the tide was still nice and low. 

The rough rocks brought us over to Cape Johnson, which we’d had to traverse in the dark on our first trip – an adventure I do not care to repeat. On this day, the sun was starting to come out, and we had no trouble seeing a good path to walk our way over to Chilean Memorial. It was a high dry path. I moved ahead of Ambrose, walking at ‘privy-speed’ in order to get myself to that privy as soon as possible. He knew to wait for me at the beach. 

I filmed my trip to the privy this time, since there was no one else on the beach when I walked up. But after I was up top, I heard voices, Ambrose’s and a female’s. Turns out we had just missed a big group of people leaving Chilean, and this girl had forgotten her trekking pole. 

When I got back down, I was very glad this girl had forgotten her trekking pole, because Ambrose suggested we do the Chilean overland trail that gets us around a chunk of rough rocks. I had practically begged him to go that way the last time we were here, but on that trip both he and Bill preferred the rocks. But seeing this girl go up the rope had inspired Ambrose to follow, so up the rope we went! 

It’s a short, steep climb, and then a short trail. The trail is obviously used – in fact, some people clearly use it to dump toilet paper, yuck. There are reroutes around fallen trees, and while the path feels a bit overgrown, it is very clear. The other end comes out on a shorter bluff, but the edge is all sandy so it’s trickier to get down – or up – in my opinion. I ended up tossing my trekking poles before essentially sliding my way down to the beach. Ambrose followed suit. 

The next section was another point, where we had to traverse more rocks and a few tree problems. As I rounded it in the lead, I saw a person packing up. To my mind, she had stayed back to potty and her group was ahead of her. I mean, I didn’t catch her peeing, but that’s my story. At any rate, soon after Ambrose walked up, she took off over the logs instead of walking on rocks. That inspired us to follow her, and we found an entire “high road” path up there that we were able to follow for quite a bit. Next time, I’ll be on the lookout for these kinds of “trails” along the way. I imagine they get stormed away in the winter and then are slowly created as people begin hiking the coast route in the late spring and early summer. 

After we rounded that last point, we could see Hole in the Wall. And from Hole, it would just be 1.7 miles to the trailhead. A bit farther to the car, but in my mind I just told myself it was 1.7 to the car from there. I mean, once we reached the trailhead, the walking would be on pavement. Straightforward at least, if not exactly easy after ten days of hiking.

Hole got steadily closer as we continued along our rocks. Closer than Hole was the start of a genuine beach, though this beach was not nice, damp sand. It was comprised of gravel rather than sand and was pretty draining to walk on. But still, it was beach. 

I arrived before Ambrose and settled down to take a break. At this point, we now had to deal with the presence of other people. There were perhaps a dozen people out this far, but more were visible closer to Hole, and as the sun was coming out I knew that there would be even more people on the other side of Hole. 

We took our break, and then had a yelling fight for absolutely no reason. I mean, it was because we were hangry and didn’t want to leave the ocean, but that’s not really a reason to yell, now is it? Over the years, Ambrose and I have learned – and then forgotten and had to relearn – that we need some decompression time at the end of a hike. A transition zone to get us to remember how to be when we are not figuratively yoked in a harness together, pulling for the exact same common goal. This spat was absolutely a symptom of needing decompression and of our starting to “pull” in slightly different directions. 

But we moved past it. We did still both want to get the car pretty badly. 

I hiked ahead, a bit of anger putting pep in my step. But I waited just before Hole, because we should cross that together. There were a ton of people walking in and around Hole, including someone trying to do a little photoshoot, and a pair of hikers that Ambrose overheard arguing (at the start of their trip). He later saw them at the cabins where we stayed, so they didn’t last long at all. 

After Hole, it was just a matter of pushing ourselves to finish. That last 1.7 miles isn’t hard hiking, but there were so many people around. It was disconcerting after days of seeing very few people, and rarely being in and around such crowds. Even Sandpoint didn’t feel this crowded. 

The tide was rising as we hiked, but that was no longer a concern for us. We only need to walk along the beach until we hit the trailhead and parking lot. As we got closer and closer, I started to look at the logs that were tumbled up towards the bluff. I knew there would be a path that we could cut over to and take instead of staying on the loose rocks of the beach, but I didn’t know where exactly it started. 

Then I saw someone walk over to the logs decisively, like they knew where they were going, so I followed. I lost track of them quickly, but there was another person who seemed to know the way so I followed her until the trail became clear. And then we were there. The trailhead! 

We made it over to the car, which was still there, thank goodness and looking to be in good shape. I actually gave the car a hug, because I was so happy to see it there. I’m used to leaving my car at trailheads where no one ever goes, so I had been a bit nervous to leave my car for so many days at such a crowded place. 

I drove us to the food truck at Forks, where we each proceeded to make our burritos disappear with great speed and much gustatory delight.

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