Lastnight after we all got back from the restaurant to Kelly and Sean’s house, I wrote my blog and planned to go to bed right afterwards. As it turned out though, a smoke break can last a few hours when chatting with new friends. Mickey was smart and turned in around 10pm, but Treehouse had a 12 pack of beer that he can’t bring on the trail, so him and I stayed up past midnight making sure they didn’t go to waste. I thought if I set my alarm for 7am, I could still get good sleep before the 18 mile day, but morning came much earlier. Grey Beard is an early bird, and came into the house at 6am waking up the dogs, that barked until probably everyone in the house was up. I regretted lastnights efforts to not waste beer immediately as the barking sounds echoed in my head. At that point I was up and figured trying to sleep for another hour wasn’t going to happen. So I got up and ready to tackle the day.
Surprising, the late night and beer didn’t shake my desire to hit the trail as Mickey and I took the van north after dropping Treehouse and Grey Beard off to the south. While sitting under the shade of an oak tree at a park and ride, after averaging 3.2mph for the first two hours, I thought about how this journey is almost over. Grey Beard will head north on the Blackwater trail tomorrow morning while Treehouse, Mickey and I start our short journey together to the Northern Terminus of the Florida Trail at Fort Pickens. I’m sure it’s going to be a fun hike, but I know I will miss Grey Beard and his high energy motivation.
Within the next few miles we crossed paths with Grey Beard and Treehouse where we took another break. There, Grey Beard talked about kayaking the entire Suwannee river next winter which led to half way made plans for a long kayak trip in our future. Leaving that break I had an adventurous mind and let it let it wonder it’s own path. I’m excited to get that spirit back into me and I’m ready to see what comes next.
As Mickey and I made our way into Crestview, we found their Main Street packed with people for a town BBQ party! It was awesome to be in the moment of a local party during a long road walk and enjoyed the people watching, as I’m sure folks enjoyed watching us hikers pass through their town. We stopped at a vender and got “alligator on a stick” and walked through the crowd that was dancing to the music. It really was a moment in time that could have only happened on the trail.
As we got to our camp at Canoe Cemetery (an actual cemetery where my hammock is swinging over Sarah Turner) we took lots of pictures with Grey Beard, as it’s our last night together. He gave Mickey and I each a hat with his logo on it for helping him move his van for the past 500 miles, and it was a bitter sweet moment. I plan on wearing the hat as we cross the finish line in six days. The rest of the evening, Mickey, Treehouse and I had a few beers while listening to music and bonding over conversation. The trail life is its own experience and sitting in a cemetery drinking a beer, after an 18 mile day, knowing it’s going to be another 18 mile day through swamps tomorrow, is a moment that is hard to explain, but it’s a moment that will live in my memory for a long time.
Leaving Kelly nd Sean’s house, Kelly at far left, Treehouse front and center and me, Mickey and Grey Beard in the back
The street party that we happened to walk into
The entrance to Canoe Cemetery
My camp for the night