Day 53 miles: 826.4 – 848.2

Well, what do you know? Lastnight was daylight savings time and I got to sleep in for an extra hour today! It couldn’t have happened at a better time after yesterdays physical and mental strain and all, and just what I needed before tackling todays miles.

Gray Beard still had the struggle of yesterday fresh in his head and he wanted to get a jump start on the swampy miles, so he left camp at 7am (the old 6am) to get the ball rolling. I, on the other hand, wanted that extra hour of sleep and decided to hold off until the first rays of the morning light shone down. Mickey must of had the same mindset as me, as she didn’t tear down her camp until I was about done with mine, and we the hit the trail at 8am and began to mentally prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.

As we started our hike, we followed the map app and read every comment. The first small swamp said to “wade through” but we found our way across by skirting the side and dancing across the clumps of mud sticking above the water. Somehow we managed to keep from filling our shoes with the muck (but still got our feet wet) for not just the first swamp, but for the first five miles! before we got to what was expected to be the start of the swampy-est section of the day, the Forestry service (luckily) was doing a controlled burn in that area, and we were rerouted via a dry farm road.

As we broke for lunch in the middle of the Apalachacola Forest, sitting on the corner of two small sandy roads, a guy on a four wheeler pulled up. He asked if we were “near anything”, and we laughed and showed him on our map app just how far from “anything” we all really were. He stuck around for a few minutes playing with the map, zooming out, then out further and scrolling around to find miles and miles of nothingness. He got back on his four wheeler and said he was heading back to his truck to find a way out of the wilderness. We wished him well, and he did the same for us before disappearing down the road.

The rest of the day was easy hiking, and there were no swamps that proved to deep or wide to worry about, as we were making good time. We even got in front of Gray Beard, who caught up to us as we filtered water from a black stream. It turned out that he went through the burn area and had to hide from the helicopter circling overhead checking on the fire. Gray Beard was never close to the actual fire, and he passed the burn area after it was out, but he didn’t want the helicopter to “rescue” him, which could be costly. It wasn’t his fault though, as the sign was missing from one end the trail (the end he entered from).

The last two miles were a little wet, but they were navigable if you planed your route across the dry clumps of mud and the tree roots like your playing frogger, and Mickey and I both finished the day with clean shoes (but wet socks).

We all made it to camp at about the same time (around 6pm), but with the time change we still had two hours of daylight left to set up camp and cook our hot meals! For a 22-ish mile day, that wasn’t to shabby at all.

Tomorrow is the final run through the Apalachacola Forest with just 15 miles left to go before we emerge on the other side. By the way things look on the map app, it should be an interesting day with all the swamps that are pinned, but we figure the more that are labeled, the more dry land must be in between separating them. At least that’s our creative conclusion. 🙂

The morning fog over the Ochlockonee river

we had some road walk through the swamp today! Not much though

some of the dryer parts of the trail

These little dry sections are a treat to be able to move fast again

I’ve shown a few pics of my camp at a side profile, but here is what it looks like under my rainfly

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