The White Springs BnB was a great stay lastnight. The house was built in 1905 and had a real southern charm about it. Judith, the owner, makes you feel like you are in your own home and she makes a delicious breakfast at the hour of your choosing. This morning she made her specialty of strawberry crepes with a side of bacon and eggs which was much better than the planned handfull of trail mix and pop tarts (which I still ate). She really provides a great spot for hikers to feel normal after being on the trail for over a month. To anyone reading this that plans on through hiking the Florida Trail or visiting White Springs Florida (home of Florida’s original tourist destination, the Fountain of Health) I highly recommend this spot, and it’s literally right on the trail as it routes through White Springs. And for $20 a night (for through hikers), it’s an easy decision to stay.
Early this morning, Gray Beard and Jen were the first of the hiker group to hit the trail. They had to run their vehicles to opposite ends of their scheduled hike before they could actually get started. It’s a great way to do the trail but it also takes a lot of planning. What the do is; one person parks where they finished yesterday and hikes the section north, and the other one drives ahead and hikes south, they then swap keys when they meet on the trail, and then they meet up again at the northern parking space to sleep, then do it all again the next day (Gray Beard calls it the Trade Key Program, or TKP for short). It’s a great idea since they can keep their heavy stuff in their cars and hike with ultralight packs day after day. Second to leave the house was Mickey. She had a 20 mile day planned and left out a little after 8am. I on the other hand only had 16 miles planned, so I did my laundry and a resupply run and didn’t hit the trail until 10:15 this morning.
Had I known my knee was going to be such a bother today, I would have taken a zero day at the BnB, but once I make some forward progress, I can’t turn back. I was only half an hour into my hike when I could feel something on the side of my kneecap, on the inside of my leg, popping back and forth with each step. I tried keeping my knee tight when I walked, but it was still doing it. I took the ace bandage Josh gave me and wrapped my knee tight and went back to hiking. I knew right away that it wasn’t going to work since 10 minutes later my knee started screaming in pain with each step. I undid the bandage then wrapped it just below my kneecap like my nurse sister recommended, and it felt a little better. I was glad I only had 16 miles today but at the same time I was thinking less would be better. I wasn’t sure how today would play out, but I kept on truckin’.
The suwannee section of the Florida Trail is now my favorite section so far. I was a little disappointed in being in pain today, but if the trail wasn’t so beautiful with it’s constant river views and steep terrain, my knee might have seemed a lot worse. I almost couldn’t believe that I was in Florida as I was trudging up and down over steep embankments and crossing the many feeder branches of the river. I even saw two river otters playing around in a pool of water having a good ol’ time chasing each other. When they noticed me watching them, they both stuck their heads out of the water to pose for a picture, then they went right back to their game of chase. I also saw where a beaver had been nawling on a tree by a flooded area and a little snapping turtle was warming himself up in the sun, no alligators though.
When I finally made it to camp it was right on the bank of the river with two perfect trees to hang my hammock from. Most of the rivers banks are steeply cut from the recent flooding, but the campsite has a path to a feeded branch to filter water from and wash my pot from dinner. It’s a nice little spot, but only a campsite because the Florida Trail Association says it is. There is no fire ring or picnic table, just a little clearing along the trail, but for tonight, it’s my private little slice of paradise.
Tomorrow’s hike is scheduled for a short 13.7 miles because it’s supposed to be raining when I wake up and then rain all day (plus it gives my knee a little rest). The campsite I’m headed to has a shelter to camp in, so I can dry myself off, hang my wet clothes and relax a bit after an easy day (hopefully).
The two river otters poking their heads out of the water
A steep climb down to cross the bridge and stairs to get up the other side
A washed out bridge, still serving its purpose
One of the many pictures of the river I took today