some of the interesting landscape I saw today
that’s Ed way up the trail, glad I caught up to him
the winds are blowing so I used the trees and palms as a wind block
a statue for the Carolina Parakeet, this was the spot of its last known sighting before going extinct.
Yesterday, as the camp hostess showed me my site, her parting words were “be careful of the pigs!” as she pointed to the evidence of rooted up ground. I said “thank you”, not really expecting pigs to come around here while folks were camping, but as bad luck would have it, I was wrong. It wasn’t long after the campgrounds had gone quiet for the night (around 10pm) I had the first of three wake-ups from the snorts and grunts of the shadow-black beasts. I could hear them coming as they tore up the grounds and I was quick to shine my light and rattle the palm fronds. Unlike the other critters of the night though, the pigs don’t run away in fear, or even walk away in angst, instead they just mill around just at the lights edge until they are done feeding that area. My second wake up, I wasn’t so quick to be conscious and I soon realized that 🎶I had hogs to the left me, pigs to the right, and there I was, stuck in the middle with them🎶. I got up from my hammock as loudy as I could, which spooked the ones in my site, so I sat on the picnic table and had a smoke until they left. The third time they woke me up, these animals of mass destruction kept out of the light again but moved on after a few minutes to let me finally sleep until morning.
I packed up my camp because I had heard that my spot was booked for tonight, and had a quick morning chat with my neighbors John and Rosey. Turns out that they are moving over to my spot so someone else can have theirs (I don’t understand either) and offered to let me hang my hammock where it was anyway. It was a nice gesture, and I would have taken them up on their offer if the weather forcast hadn’t cleared up for the day, but it had, so I would press on. We said our goodbyes, took a picture, and I headed to the bathhouse for my much needed shower/laundry to get the past weeks worth of funk off of me. While laundry was being done, my buddy Josh and one of his friends showed up with my resupply needs of food. It’s awesome to have the support of someone that is willing to shop and drive so far just to keep me fueled up and pressing on. Their stay was short as they had plans of their own for the day and I was wanting to hit the trail anyway for a few short miles.
As I was leaving the campground, an amateur astronomer asked ‘if I was hiking to Canada too’. (This campground is one of the least light polluted areas in the state) and I knew right away that another hiker, that I met very briefly at the Indian Reservation campground two weeks ago, had just passed through. I asked how far ahead Ed was, and he said “10 minutes, he just came through”. All I knew of Ed was his name, that was hiking to Canada, and he was using the only backpack he’s ever owned (a 1970’s Kelty pack). I walked at a pretty good pace to catch up to him as I knew today was a short day for me and my legs were fresh, and I also knew that Ed started this morning, so I could catch him, Which I did. Ed is quite the character. He is a lifetime long distance hiker and has done just about every trail out there. He lives out of his pack making miles each day to see the great trails of America. He started in the 80’s and liked it so much that he sold all his possession (except a few books) and hikes full-time. He has a lot of stories and tidbits of knowledge he shared, and was a very interesting person to meet. As we got to my stopping point, we talked a bit more before he pressed on. He told me about how commercial the Appalachian Trail is, but if they would remove all the shelters, it could become a good hike again. I hope I get to catch back up to him at some point, but this is also his 4th time doing the Florida Trail, so his experience alone will keep him ahead of me.
Looking at the map, tomorrow could have a lot of sloughs to get through, but if I keep to my method of taking off my socks and shoes to go through them (an Ed approved method for my tender feet) I should still make good miles without making my foot issues worse and get to see and appreciate even more of what the Kissimmee prairie has to offer.