Our last night at Hillcrest Church was another good one. After posting the blog, another hiker named “Master key” showed up. He is a soon-to-be tripple crown hiker that has been on the move since 2017, through hiking the PCT and CDT and this year is doing the Florida Trail and the AT! He started the Florida Trail mid February and currently holds a 30+ mile a day average. To put that in perspective, I have a 15.7 mile average! Anyway, he didn’t stay up long to chat and was already several miles ahead of us when we woke this morning as he is trying to knock out two big trails this year. “Hike your own hike” is the saying on the trail, so undeterred, we set out for our 17 mile day.
Our miles are from a Hardee’s parking lot, straight down a hilly and busy two lane road to a gas station at the other end of the 17 miles. No turns, no trail, no businesses in between, just a long ‘point a’ to ‘point b’ road march. I’d like to say that it was entertaining, but each mile was the same as the one before it, and the same as the one in front of it, but they were all necessary to get along the trail.
We did get to see alot of cool scenery with picturesque lakes flanked by big money houses, and we took our breaks along the road there enjoying the view for free. Our pace averaged 3.1mph as we hiked, but we took long breaks to give our feet a rest from the constant pounding of the road which left us at 2.5mph for the day. It was of no concern though as we had easy and predictable miles and lots of daylight left.
We met Grey Beard at the end of our day and decided to drive up trail to the end of tomorrow’s miles to camp. It’s a nice change to our usual plans because it gives Mickey and I chance to hike “north” when we drive the van back to where we left off today. Another great side effect of doing this tomorrow is that we get to knock out the last stretch of the 74 consecutive road miles in the morning, and finish our day in the woods, which is always a plus.
At camp I tried out a new dinner combination that turned out fantastic. I made my usual pot of ramen noodles, then added stove-top stuffing to thicken it up and then topped it off with a mushed up SPAM singles! You can think what you wish,, but it was absolutely delicious! And I think I found my new favorite high calorie meal for hiking! I’m sure it will be a reoccurring feast on the trail.
A nice pond view on our walk
my room in the cabin at Hillcrest. It will be awesome when it’s finished
The Econfina river
Some more storm damaged trees. These trees took the wind from the north (the weaker side of the storm)
The good stuff!