Day 31 miles: 437.8- 437.8 (zero day)

Camping at campsite zero was much better than I expected it to be. First off the company was great with ‘Woodstock’, ‘Wet prairie’ and Daren. We sat around the campfire sharing stories and enjoying the nice weather and the mostly bug free night until our worn out hiking bodies sent us all into our sleeping bags around 8pm. It was nice to have their company and after the previous night of craziness, I really needed a peaceful night of sleep (which I got).

I woke up at 7am and after laying there for just a few minutes to stretch and then a quick bathroom stop, I made the walk over to the check-in station. I needed to be first in line and although there is a gate down the hill blocking cars from pulling up to the check-in station, I wanted to beat any other folks on foot. I was there by 7:15 to wait out the next 45 minutes as the ‘first in line’ like I was told to do, and I was :). I wanted to keep my spot at campsite zero if I could, but if I had to move, I was fine with that, as long as I had a place to hang my gear for the day.

After getting my name first on the list for one of the two possible open spots, I walked to the little camp store and bought soap and deodorant so I could get a proper shower. I went back to camp and grabbed all my clothes and headed to the shower house (where I had to wash myself twice to get the grime off). I also hand washed my clothes in the shower stall the best I could. I wanted to get this all done as early as possible so that my clothes could dry on the line all day in hopes of having fresh and dry duds for tomorrow’s hike. Also and more importantly, is that my wife and girls were possibly going to make a trip out to visit, and I wanted to be clean and have my chores done so we could hang out together free of worries. I had been hopeful of a visit from them each weekend I’ve been out on the trail, but it just hasn’t worked out yet so far. This time though, I new early in the week that I would be here, and I let my wife know I’d be taking a zero day today so they could come out, spend the day and camp, if they had the free time.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after my shower was done that I got a message from home that it wasn’t likely that they would make it (still a maybe, though). My morale took a hard dive as I know I will soon be hiking out of it being a 2 or 3 hour drive from home, like it has been so far, and I feel like I might not get to see the family before my trip is through.

All was not lost though. Sencing that my family wasn’t going to make it out despite the “maybe” and due to my delema yesterday of finding a campsite, I told the folks at the check-in station that if any hikers come through, I don’t mind sharing my spot with them. It wasn’t but a few hours later as I was heading to the camp store (to charge my battery pack) that I saw two hikers headed my way. They must have been given a good description of what I look like because they came right to me with a smile and a wave. I asked if they were looking for a place to stay and they said yes they were. I showed them the campsite and we did a quick introduction before I left to find the only outlet in the park. When I say ‘only’ outlet, I mean there are no oulets in the bathrooms, at the pavilions, around the outside of any building with power (to include the camp store) I mean every place with power is outlet free. I walked into the camp store and asked about charging my charger and they were happy to let me use the one outlet behind the register for a couple of hours. I asked about why there are no outlets in the park, and the lady laughed and said “the campground is primitive”. “I guess so” I said with a smile and gave a ‘thank you’ for helping me out.

Back at camp I talked with “high pockets” and Rich about their journey so far. They are travelers from Saint Louis who are down escaping the cold weather and hiking small sections of trail in Florida. Their plan after hiking the Ocala section is to go south for some beach time before finding another section of trail to do. I recommend the Kissimmee prairie, and told them all about it (to include being surrounded by hogs at night) to which they showed great interest in and plan on checking it out.

The rest of the evening was pretty lazy. I went through my pack to see what I could live without, and I walked around the park a bit to check out their trails and take a few pictures. It wasn’t the day I had planned for, but I did get to relax for most of the day and I also got to help out some fellow hikers who needed a place to stay. Tomorrow my friend Josh is bring another weeks worth of food and needed supplies, then I start out on the 20 mile reroute around the Juniper Prairie.

the water is so clear and pretty here

it looks like it’s only a few inches deep, but it’s over a foot deep in the shallowest looking spot

nice trail system here at Juniper Springs

The original mill turned into a power generator in the 1930’s or 40’s. It was the only power generator for miles around back then. Might have even had an outlet or two 🙂

5 Comments

  1. Love the pictures. Beautiful scenery.
    Sorry you didn’t have a chance to connect with family but turned it around into something good by having the hikers stay at your spot.

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  2. That water is beautiful~ makes me miss Florida even more! By the way, had a thought about the bear and dog~ Are there Coyotes/Wolves there? Maybe it was a couple of them fighting? Or a pack? Just a thought! Anyway~ glad you are making friends along the way! Love ya!

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  3. A much needed rest for you. I am heading down to do the Seminole state forest leg from cassia to State road 46 and will stay in that shelter hopefully. Have a good hike north of Juniper

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  4. Man, what a cool experience! I can attest to missing family as a 20+ year Airman. That can definitely affect you but stay the course and I’m certain completing this adventure will make your relationship stronger too. It has for me over the years. I’m hoping to do an adventure like yours when I retire. Thanks for the inspiration to keep after my goal.

    Liked by 1 person

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