Lastnight was a pretty smooth one. The temperatures were in the high 60’s and the mosquitoes were the regular sized ones that pretty much left me alone. I did hear a few critters scurrying around camp, but I had two phone calls before 9pm and I think my voice kept them at a distance. My last phone call was to Josh for a weather update, which didn’t sound to good. The thunderstorms might start as early as (11am with a 50% chance) but should be in full swing by 1pm. I thought that if I slept well and got an early start at first light, I might make it to my next camp before the storm hits.
I woke up at 6:30am and after a quick pack up, I was on the trail at 6:50 and ate breakfast on the move. Breakfast included a couple of anti inflammatories for my knee, which was already wrapped below the kneecap. I started out with a moderate pace and made sure to take the steep downhills with caution, not to stress whatever is going on in there. Although I was bothered a bit by my right knee, I wasn’t feeling the intense pain of yesterday, which makes me think that the problem is recoverable.
The views were still just as majestic along the Suwannee River as the past few days. I kept stopping to admire the views and to take pictures for most of the morning, but I still needed to beat the impending storm and make my miles. My knee hadn’t changed how it felt for a few hours, so I started moving a little faster (while fully aware not to push it) and ended up catching up to Mickey on her break. Although she had a few miles head start of me, she started late this morning and was taking it easy. We started hiking together, and she walked right past a huge rattlesnake that was soaking up the sun right on the side of the trail! I was hiking a few yards behind her and didn’t see it until it was already between us. It was blended into the leaves pretty well and didn’t care that we were there, so we took a picture and let it be. Further down the trail we came to a foot bridge, high over the water, that was missing about a 6 foot gap of boards in the middle that we had to carefully traverse via the two main I-beams. There was also a streem crossing that was knee deep, which caught us by surprise from it not being on the map. It was a fun hike today, and we made it to Holton Creek River Camp just after 1pm and right before the rain started. We ate lunch under the pavilion, but Mickey’s tent and sleeping bag were in Gray Beards van, so once the rain let up a bit, she trekked the 4 miles up the trail to sleep there, but I wasn’t going anywhere :).
The campground is only accessible by hiking the trail or kayaking the river, and it is a spectacular display of money and manpower for such a small group of outdoor loving folks. There are three bathrooms, showers, electrical outlets everywhere, potable water on tap, a covered picnic area with 6 tables (and ceiling fans) and the best part is the four huge screened in shelters with power and a water spigot. This place is a hikers dream and is quick to spoil you with all the amenities. There is even a campground host available to help with anything (he even gave me a spoon to replace my broken one) and has firewood and ice for sale. What’s the price to stay at a place like this? Absolutely free!! Since this place is miles from the nearest road and with the poor weather today, I have the entire place to myself so it is whisper quiet with a light rain for a little ambiance.
Hopefully the easy trail day today and a relaxing afternoon gives my knee the rest it needs to heal up some. Tomorrow is an 18 mile day plus a short hike to the resupply store, so I plan on getting up early and moving at first light.
The big rattlesnake on the trail
The sun coming up to shine light on the Suwannee River
A view from the trail of a big bend in the river
My own shelter, I had four to choose from 🙂 and it kinda feels like cheating to have it so nice. Best camp on trail so far! (Holton Creek River Campground)