This morning was the first ‘wake up’ in almost a month without Grey Beard here on the team. His early push to get the ball rolling at first light was missed, as we were all slow to show signs of life, then even slower to pack up camp and get moving. The late night we had might have played a factor ;), but we still had 15 miles ahead of us, so the laziness had to come to an end at some point.
We hit the trail shortly past 9am, but Treehouse played some high tempo music on his speaker which led to a fast pace as we hiked to the rythem of the beat. It was the first day on the trail that I hiked with music, and I can now see how folks can turn 30 mile days :). I was in the lead setting the pace, but the trail today was punishing us for our late start and gave us mile after mile of steep up and downs. Now, the elevation change was only from 0ft to 130ft, but it was a constant elevation change, and the most we have seen in one day in all of the past 1050 miles of the trail. It was actually hard to believe that we were so close to the flat beach walk coming up, and it felt like we were a thousand miles from a sandy shoreline. Our legs burned and we all got winded on the steepest uphills (a rare occasion on this trail) but we were still cruisin around 3mph through it all, courtesy of Treehouse’s music.
Looking at the map, there are three big milestones around us, the first happened today which was getting out of Eglin AFB. There isn’t anything negative to say about the Eglin section, it’s actually very well maintained and I had dry feet through its entirety (which says alot for the volunteers that maintain that part). But, it is a long, multi day section and once we left the base, we are literally “out of the woods” for the rest of the Florida Trail. The second milestone will be reached early tomorrow, and that is getting to the start of the 30 mile long beach walk. It will be another bitter sweet moment as from there it will be a straight shot to the final milestone of Ft. Pickens, the end of our journey.
Outside of Eglin AFB, we hiked into Navarre “the most relaxing city in Florida” (so says their welcoming sign) and to a gas station where we each ate a large pizza, and I washed mine down with two big Gatorade’s. I don’t know how it all fits into my stomach, but I was debating going back in for dessert :). After letting things settle and with our bellies fat and happy, we needed to find a place to set up camp for the night. There isn’t much to stealth at around here with our three camps to set up, but less than half a mile from the gas station we found a nice spot right off the sidewalk trail in a patch of woods. It’s a little loud with the road right next to us, but it will work. All in all it was a great day, and tomorrow’s hike should be an easy 15 mile day, and it will include several miles of our long beach hike. The weather is predicted to be cool and partly cloudy too, which is perfect for us on the shadeless days ahead. Three more days until completion….
A picture from where the trail crossed the powerlines. We camped in the woods near the lowest (elevation) point in the picture
An example of elevation chart for today. The screenshot is from the Guthooks map app
A nice little creek we crossed
The same creek as above, just looking south
.where I filtered my water from today. I’m glad there was a sign, I might have missed it 🙂