Today’s miles: 7.9
Total miles: 464
The morning is cold but not foggy, and we linger over breakfast at our little nook. I find it hard to leave this adorable campsite. We head out a little after 8am, wondering what the day will hold. At least, I say, we know better now what we could be in for.
It is rocky in the morning, but not like yesterday. “This is no Cape Johnson,” we say to each other. Amazingly, there’s a nice little stretch of beach to Norwegian Memorial campsite (named for another ship that crashed here — there’s a reason this area is known as the graveyard of the Pacific!). This seems a very popular place to camp, with lots of decorations everywhere that people have made from driftwood and random items that have washed up. All day we see tons of ocean trash: plastic bottles, buoys of all sizes, lengths of rope, huge rusted metal things that must have been parts of ships.
We boulder our way across the first headland, but at least the rocks are mostly dry and grippy here. Not like Cape Johnson, we say with relief. Near the end there are just pools of water covering the rocks, and the only way forward is to wade. I’m terrified that it will be wildly slippery under there, but it’s surprisingly fine! This high only lasts a few minutes, though, because next we must tromp through a long stretch of deeply piled rotting seaweed. Not my favorite coastal smell.
The miles continue to be quite rocky, but relatively dry. Sometimes it even feels fun, hopping from rock to rock, knowing that at least I’m moving steadily forward even if it feels (and looks) like an endless expanse of rocks. We cross paths with a father and young son who indicate another mile and a half of this terrain ahead for us, ending around Yellow Bank camp. Shortly after this encounter I slip off a low rock and dunk both feet in foul smelling seaweed water. Argh. We shift between laughter, swearing, and deep conversation topics, and finally lapse into our own silent struggles with the terrain. Colleen puts in her earbuds and I just march on with determination through a section that combines the rotting seaweed with many, many piles of bird shit.
The reward for persevering through this is a glorious, beautiful flat stretch of beach along Yellow Bank. I’m joyous again. What an emotional rollercoaster the coast has been so far! And it doesn’t stop: next up is Point Five, the headland we really needed to time with the tide today. We have some trepidation, because the trail guide says mildly that this area “is particularly rocky and slow,” and based on its similarly understated description of Cape Johnson, we are both expecting the worst at Point Five.
It does start out rough. The tide is starting to come in and waves lap up at us as we manuever along a slippery wall of rock. Then, apparently, we need to walk up this slippery sort of tunnel and through a small hole in the rock? We do. On the other side, paradise. Not the rocky headlands we’ve been struggling with, but a beautiful cove that feels like a secret we’ve stumbled into. We wander around and marvel, slowly making our way through. There are more rocks to scramble over after this but none of it is nearly as tough as I’d feared. Certainly not Cape Johnson status. Tentatively, I feel the hardest portions of the PNT are all behind me now.
At South Sand Point, we hunt around for campsites hidden in the trees above the beach. There’s one that’s serviceable, but this is my very last night on this trail, and I’m hoping for something better. I go investigating and eventually move us to a spacious site in a clearing, with a table and seating, nice flat tent spots, and a swing! I eat instant mashed potatoes for dinner, the first time I’ve tried this thru-hiker classic, and am excited to find that they taste good and rehydrate almost instantly. Score. A young deer with a small set of antlers wanders through our campsite after dinner, just seeking access to a different set of bushes to graze on. It’s chilly, and we retreat to our tents around 5pm, reading and chatting. The conversation returns to food cravings every few minutes. Town tomorrow, the end of the PNT. I try to savor the cool night air and the lull of the waves below on this last night.