It’s crazy how different two consecutive nights can be. The night before last was hot and sticky with stale air and a swarm of mosquitoes, while lastnight was rather chilly and breezy with no bugs at all. I slept great except for my right knee waking me up a few times. It’s hard to get my leg positioned just right so it doesn’t hurt, but I found if I keep my leg bent and angled to the right against the side of my hammock, I can get the pain to stay down and sleep for a few hours. But if my leg is straight, angled in or crossed over my left leg, my knee will start to hurt. At least I found a sweet spot to position myself in for future nights.
The trail from mile 601 – 603.2 was placed mostly a few inches below the water. I initially tried to skirt the edges or bushwack along side the trail, but after I valiantly pushed my way through the vines and danced my way across the shallow roots of the first bog, the rest were not quite as possible. On the second bog I found myself strangely entangled in thorny vines, scrub brush and palmeto fronds for a good five minutes. When I finally figured out how to escape the tangled puzzle and free myself from the grasp of nature, I had to finally accept defeat and jump into the water. The first hour of travel only yielded 1.5 miles gained, and now I had soaked shoes and wet feet with 20 miles to go. Undeterred, I pressed on with hopes of making it to the BnB tonight.
At the halfway point, I was officially out of the swamp and along the banks of the Suwannee river. My lunch spot was right next to the only set of class three rapids in the State of Florida and it was a beautiful sight and impressive sound. I kind of wanted to stay there for the rest of day and camp, but I also wanted to press on to the White Springs BnB, which won the coin toss.
The next ten miles were some of the best hiking of done on this trip. The views were spectacular, the terrain was challenging, and I was having a great time soaking it all in. The weather couldn’t be beat either, it was cool and partly cloudy which was perfect to keep the sweat down and keep a decent pace going. I finally made it to White Springs but I will definitely be doing that section of trail again soon.
The BnB was a goal of mine for the past 3 days and 60+ miles, and a smile grew across my face as I approached it and saw Gray Beards van in the parking lot. I’ve never stayed at a BnB, so I didn’t know what to expect, but as I rounded the corner of the sidewalk, I heard a gal say “you must be Moose” and I knew her as a fellow hiker who has helped me out on the facebook page as “Mickey Mouse”. She was sitting on the steps having a smoke, so I joined her and we started talking about the trail for a few minutes. The owner of the house was gone, so Mickey showed me around and up to the only room still available so I could put my gear down. We got sheets, blankets and a towel for my room and I set it up like home.
Out on the porch, Mickey, Jen (Gray Beards hiking partner for a few days) and I sat around talking for a bit while Gray Beard was finishing up his 20+ mile day. That man is impressive on what he can accomplish each day and is such a fast hiker it’s a challenge to hike with him. Once he was done with his miles, we all sat around figuring out a long term game plan. We all want to finish by the end of March and we are all getting about the same miles each day, so we should always be within a few days hike of each other. Gray Beard has his van for resupply runs if needed and once Jen is off the trail, Mickey or I could help shuttle his van (whomever is closest). A small plan was unfolding, but it would have to be open-ended and flexible.
After the planning was done, Jen, Mickey and I went to Texas Roadhouse for something other than ‘trail food’ for dinner, while Gray Beard stayed back to shower. Dinner was delicious and I had two of the 10oz chuck steak dinners with mashed potatoes and green beans for both meals side dishes (which was all easily eaten). As the waitress brought us our check, Jen asked for three separate checks and said “we all just met today”. The waitress laughed like she was joking, but we really were all three strangers just two hours ago, that the Florida Trail brought together as quick friends.
The only Class three rapids in Florida (looking more like class two’s, today)
This morning’s Trail
I haven’t seen a ‘Woodsy the Owl’ sign in ages!
A deep ravine I just climbed down one side and up this side