Date- January 19, 2019
Location- Oak Hammock
Elevation- 39 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 21.1 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 191.5 miles
Weather/Temp- Clear/ 80s
Pain level- sore feet
Spirits/Morale- Getting Stronger
Wildlife encounters- gators, gar, rabbits, hogs, armadillos, tortoise, raptors, buzzards
Days without shower- 3
Days without laundry- 3
CatFox Status- Loving every second
Food Eaten – Pulled pork sandwich, Cuban sub
Today was a long day. We got a bit of a late start, around 8:30 am. Hiked on roads, trails, more roads, and then more trails.
But, the trail scenery was my favorite thus far. The oak hammocks and the oak tree formations are breathtaking. I’ve never seen such a random display of tree limbs of this magnitude, ever. Those crazy Joshua trees are the only thing that come close, but they’re not this big.
We knocked out 6 miles fairly quickly, 2 of those miles on a paved road, then took 15 minutes to rest at a roadside church.
We discovered there was a country store another two miles down the road, and couldn’t help but go check it out before rejoining the trail. The store was a nice stop, because they served massive pulled pork sandwiches for only 6 bucks. Definitely a local hangout place, and many of the locals wanted to bend our ears about various things.
After getting back on trail, we had a little less than 11 miles to get where we wanted to go. There would be no more roads for the day!
The trail stayed mostly in the deep shade of the oak hammocks and sabal palm groves. I could hike beneath them all day. A fire was raging somewhere, but we couldn’t see it – could only smell and see the smoke, and occasionally have some ash fall on us through the trees.
Of course the trail couldn’t be enjoyable the entire time. For several miles the trail hugged the barbed wire fences of private cattle land. When they cut the trail along the fences, all they did was take a “bush hog” and mow over absolutely everything in a 12 foot wide path. All of the hacked up dead vegetation was left to lie where it fell. This was aggravating because you could find yourself shin deep in dead grass, branches, and other larger plants. Not to mention it made the ground look level when it definitely was not. You could step down right into a hole, or onto the edge of some washed out or rooted up ground. It was not very enjoyable, but it was different…
As the evening hours closed in, the animal life increased. We passed by a large group of hogs traveling through a sea of palmettos and cabbage palms. They made off quickly and noisily as we approached. Then, we ran into a few more on the trail about a mile later. No pictures… yet!
The last 1.2 miles we spent hiking in the dark. Even with a nearly full moon, it wasn’t bright enough to shine through the oak hammocks. We spooked up a diller (armadillo) when we got into camp, near the banks of the Kissimmee River. There are 3 other thru hikers here, all of them familiar faces from the retired group we met on the Seminole Reservation. They got ahead of us when we took our two nearos in Okeechobee.
We didn’t get a good look at the river, but the other hikers said there were a dozen large gators on the banks when they first arrived. I hope I get to see them tomorrow.
Katana did great today. She only hiked a couple miles, but she was a good passenger and great entertainment during breaks.
I’m hanging between two oaks right now, and something large is rooting around near my hammock. We’re expecting rain, so I have my rain fly up and I can’t see what it is. I want to say it’s a hog, but I hear no grunting. It could be an armadillo, but it sounds too big. I just hear the nonstop ripping and tearing of roots about 6 ft away. It’s just not worth the effort of getting out of the nest and then trying to get comfortable again.
The forecast is calling for strong winds with a storm that’s going to hit us tonight. Hopefully the stakes for my rain fly hold tight. This will be the first rain of this journey so far.
We’ll see what tomorrow and tonight holds…
**Update** Hogs confirmed. They’re all over the campsite and around Schweppes’ tent. Hoping he gets a picture when he tries to scare them off