Lastnight was another quiet one on the Florida Trail. I did hear a group of coyote yipping from about 200 yards away, but I figured they were too far out to fuss about, and drifted back to sleep.
I woke up at sunrise to a group of cows mooing about 50 yards away. They must be wild cows because here I was in the middle of the woods, miles from the nearest fence line, and there they were just as confused about me being there as I was of them. As I got out of my hammock to start my tear down of camp, I noticed that my left Achilles Tendon didn’t heal over night like I had thought it might, or at least hoped it would. I made the choice to press on anyway and see how it feels after a few miles. Maybe it just needs to get lubed up, I thought as I continued my morning routine. I had a big breakfast of tortillas and salami slices and a bag of knorr noodles to really fill my belly, then I hit the trail.
I was only about half a mile in when I really contemplated turning around to camp. My Achilles Tendon was on fire with each step, and lastnights camp still had a ‘ready made fire’ that I didn’t use. Being as stubborn as I am though I could see losing the ground that I just made as productive, and decided to just go as far as my body would allow. At the two hour mark of hiking I checked my map app and saw that I was still only 2 1/2 miles from where I started. This when I realized that I had made a real mistake in pressing on. So here I was, barely making ground, stressing an inflamed tendon while possibly doing more damage and I knew that no matter what, it would be a low mileage day. I checked the map app again and saw that the trail meets and runs along a road (US 441) in a few miles and decided to at least press on to there since I would be seen if I collapsed from a torn tendon :). Along US 441 the shoulder is wide and flat. I was making a steady slow pace up to a bench (at mile 7) and had to break for lunch. It was just past noon and although I hadn’t gone far, I had gone long enough and needed calories and a rest. I did some quick math and in the past four hours, hiking in pain, I was averaging less than 2mph. I knew I was in trouble since the next campsite was a long way off, so I checked the map app again. I found that “Forever Florida” had a camp six miles from me right on the Florida Trail that they let through hikers that are also members of the Florida Trail Association (which I am) stay at for free! Perfect I thought, I will slow step my way to the office and see if thats a real thing. On my way there I got a message from my dad asking if I took the day off to heal. I responded with “like a fool, I did not”. My plan this week was to make good miles each day and end up at an RV camp on friday so that my wife and girls could visit for the weekend. I was on track to get there, so yesterday I called to make sure there was space available, and there was, perfect! I sent my wife the plans and all was set until todays injury. It was my heart that really kept me going today, but the body just couldn’t keep up. So I made the hard decision to not only stay at the campsite owned by Forever Florida, but to also take a zero day tomorrow knowing it meant spoiling this weekends plans.
The last four miles from the check in station to the camp were slow painful miles, but once I could see the camp, my spirits lifted. Yes, I was broken, but this is a great spot to break down. There is a little out building to put my stuff, so I don’t have to hang anything (I still hung my food bag from a hook), there is a covered shelter to hang my hammock, and the best part is that there is a bath house with water pressure from a solar powered well pump! It’s as if my guardian trail angel was looking out for me! I could have turned back this morning to my last camp, but if I’m going to take a day to heal, this is a little slice of heaven and I will gladly do it right here.
this alligator was on the bank, but when I got close, he got camera shy
todays only slough I had to take my shoes off for
these tortoise are always a cool sight
cows blocking the trail
tonight’s hammock spot