Another full nights of sleep was had lastnight in Juniper Springs. I woke up to the sound of a squirrel climbing on the same tree my hammock was tied to, and I layed there watching him watch me for a few minutes. It was a good start to what I knew would be a long day.
After packing up camp, I went over to High pockets and Rich and talked to them for awhile about places we have all been too, and shared our stories of great places to visit in this amazing country of ours. They told me about some great hikes in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and New England and I told them about Isle Royal in lake Superior and climbing Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainer. It was a good conversation, but they had to get moving, so we said our goodbye’s and went our own way.
I had some time to kill before Josh and his family showed up with my resupply goods, so I went to the camp store and bought 1500 calories worth of food for $6.00 (pretty good deal, I thought) and sat under the pavilion to put it in my belly. It was the first time I’ve ever had potted meat, and it might be my last time too. If you haven’t had it, it’s similar to mashed Vienna sausages with a layer of coagulated fat binding it all together on top. It wasn’t pleasant, but man, it’s high in calories (which I need)!
Josh and his family showed up with seven days worth of deboxed, pre-sorted and Ziploc bagged meals ready for easy eating. They also brought some odds and ends I need like new nylon liner socks, a fuel can for my stove, a brace for my ankle, an ace bandage, and a few extra $1 head lamp for night hiking (which I would need later today) along with a dozen doughnuts from his son and a box of girl Scouts cookies from his daughter. The visit was short as it was getting to be almost noon, and I had 20+ miles to go, and they were off to the Daytona 500 race. We were all about to have a fun day in our own way, and the journey began.
The road march detour wasn’t as bad as I expected, first off it was only 10 miles (not 20), and secondly, it was on a hard packed dirt road that wasn’t dissimilar to the trail, only wider. Along the way I met two campers who offered me water as they drove past. I didn’t need any as I just filled up from a water cache, but we talked for a few minutes about bears, then we went our own way. I also met an older couple who were geo caching and they offered me a ride to the end of the road, I refused their offer but I took a break and had a conversation instead of cheating the trail. Further down the road I met another guy that wanted to help me out, and he topped off my water supply for me, which gave me another break that was filled with polite chit chat. Sometimes the road marches are boring, but today I met a lot of cool folks along the way to include a gray haired man with a pony tail and bandana who drove past in an old jeep with no doors or top on while rocking out to loud 70’s music, who gave me a great big ol’ smile and an open hand wave as he drove by.
Once back in the woods, my pace picked up as I saw that I might make the 88 store (my planned destination) right after sunset. It shows about 25 miles on the tracker, but for once the detour was a short cut today instead of being added uncounted miles. My total travelled miles today was 21(ish), and even though I took lots of pictures, I had a good cruise of 3 miles per hour all day and even hit close to 4mph in the last two hours. It must have been the zero day yesterday and the nearly 6000 calories I ate to give me that speed 🙂
At the 88 store, it was just as the map app describes; a hiker friendly place to eat, drink and have a good time. Although I was tired from turning the miles so fast, I stopped into the 88 store and ordered a cold beer and and a Hamburger. While enjoying my food and drink, I started chatting with the local folks and ended up sitting on a tailgate drinking homemade moonshine from a mason jar and telling stories about adventure for way to long. After the moonshiners left, I went back into the 88 store and met two Vietnam vets who were very funny and entertaining and wanting to talk, so I had a few more beers with them. I also met a real cow hunter (not a cowboy) who has spent his whole life all around Florida hunting those wild cows I’ve been seeing and selling them to the cowboys. He was from Clewiston (where I did the first long road march) and he had stories from hunting cows everywhere I’ve been south of here. Then a lady came in with three pet pigs (litter box trained), and everyone took turns feeding them dog food.
I’m glad I pushed for the extra miles to be able to spend an evening at the 88 store and it was an experience I won’t soon forget.
The 10 miles of sand road I hiked
scrub jays. The only Jay bird that lives entirely within Florida. Interesting fact; the young from last year help take care of the babies from this year before leaving the nest.
there are a lot of cool ponds like this in the Ocala Forest
one of the three little pigs