Last night around 11pm (soon after we laid down for bed in our stealth camping spot on the beach) the beautifully calm, star filled night turned into a windy, sand-blasting, cold with heavy dew experience. The wind was ripping off the beach and causing my little makeshift shelter to flap loudly while the sand drifted into the opening and all over me and my gear. Treehouse’s sleeping bag is rated for 35 degrees, but it’s old and has lost the warmth it once had. He ended up moving his sleeping pad and bag to the leeward side of Mickey, to use her as a wind block (which she recommended). The weather change was unexpected and sudden, but a true Florida Trail experience that was fitting for our last night.
At about 12:30, my dad called me to let me know he was on the road looking for where I was! I knew he was coming down for a few days now, but with the trail, no plan is set in stone until it happens, so I have been keeping it out of my blog. I was so excited to see him that I didn’t mind the lack of sleep, or the cold and windy conditions that were still battering our camp. He came to our spot on the beach to meet Mickey and Treehouse and to have a beer with all of us, before he went back to his car to sleep (conditions were to bad for him to set up camp) and the three of us went back to sleep on the beach.
This morning we were woken up by a maintenance worker driving a small front end loader and clearing off all the sand that had drifted onto the boardwalk. The weather had settled down quite a bit by now and after he left, the sound of the waves crashing on the beach were a great introduction to our last day. We all were up and packed by 8:45 and set off to meet Grey Beard a few miles ahead of us, while my dad drove down to check into the campground by the terminus.
The beach put early wear and tear on our legs as we hiked to Grey Beard, and although it had only been about a mile, we took a break when we met him to rest in the sand. we still had a few miles of soft sand beach hike to do before the trail turned back to a foot path so we took the early rest without complaints. Hiking with Grey Beard one last day was great, but we struggled with the soft sand and burning muscles for only another mile or two before cutting the 50 yards up to the road that parallels the beach, and we did the next few miles as a road march. This gave us the time and energy to talk and relax as the last few miles slipped under our feet.
It was weird that the miles went so fast for me, maybe it was because it was only 7 miles, or maybe I was too lost in thought, but noon came quickly and suddenly the end of the trail was visable. As Grey Beard and I got to within a few feet of the trails end he pulled out a “happy birthday” banner for us to hold up as Mickey approached. It was great that we had made it here today, as we had set our schedule to do so a few weeks back. Grey Beard even contacted her mom to find out which kind of cake she likes (she likes rice crispy treats instead) and had a birthday candle for her. He is such a thoughtful person to come back and hike the last day with us to see us finish and to do that for her.
My dad was also at the finish line to see me cross and to celebrate. Since he has taught me most of what I know about hiking/camping, it was an amazing feeling to have him there to celebrate with. He even had with him victory drinks for all of us to cheers with, and gave me a big hug as I crossed the line. As we all hung around the terminus taking pictures and telling stories I paused to soak up the moment.
There I stood, at the end of a 1103.7 mile, 71 day hike. I was with folks that just two months ago I didn’t know, and whom now I couldn’t imagine the trail without them. Grey Beard, Mickey and Treehouse have impacted my life in some way or another, and I have become a better version of myself because of them. I learned a lot over the lenght of trail about who I am, by I also got to experience so many nice and helpful folks that I learned a lot about humanity. I will do one more blog to capture that aspect later.
After our little celebration at the terminus, we headed to the gift shop to sign the last hiker log, then took Grey Beard to his van for his the last farewell of the trip. It was sad to part ways again, but I will see him again in the future on yet another adventure. For the rest of the day, my dad, Mickey, Treehouse and I went to the campground to grill up some delicious food and to sit around a campfire telling stories. We didn’t stay up to late since we didn’t get much sleep last night, but it was a great way to end the final day on the Florida Trail.
Thank you for reading my blog about this amazing journey and hopefully there will be many more adventures like this to share with you. Till next time… -Moose-
I found this face on the beach this morning as the sun was coming up
Grey Beard leading the way down the beach
Treehouse was in between Grey Beard and Mickey when I decided to take this picture, but had moved across the street by the time I did. Still a good ahot though 🙂
Having a victory beer on the northern terminus at Ft. Pickens
me and my dad
Grey Beard took this photo and said “do something silly”, this is what he got 🙂
Grey Beard, Mickey, me and Treehouse (from left to right)
hanging at the campground enjoying the last of the final day