Date- January 21, 2019
Location- Town of KICCO campground
Elevation- 46 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 19 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 227.9 miles
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- deer, gators, buzzards, dead pygmy rattler
Days without shower- 5
Days without laundry- 5
Hunger/craving- Huge juicy burger
CatFox Status- Itching to hike
Food Eaten – bacon jerky, beef jerky, spam
So the Park Rangers did find Chess Man last night a little after 8pm. He was fine, but from what I heard through the hiker grapevine, he’s calling it quits on his hike. Maybe he’ll change his mind in a couple days, but we’ll see.
It did drop into the 30s last night, and I did get a bit chilly on my feet and a small part of my shoulders – but nothing that was going to ruin my night.
I was thinking about it today… how many days/nights I’ve racked up on the trails so far – I’m over 500. In that span of time, I’ve slept in some of the most depraved places, in the most deplorable conditions: roadside ditches, under and on picnic tables, in boiler rooms, in bushes, under low trees, across streams, front porches, alleys, rest stops, parks, abandoned buildings, sketchy stranger’s houses, between power lines, inside wilderness outhouses, on fence lines, over cattle guards, a raised median, private land, behind churches, in churches, next to cemeteries, roadside berms, behind soccer fields, behind baseball fields, inside a ski lift, on the front porch of a restaurant, behind a restaurant, outside the bathroom of a gear shop, next to a cow watering trough, in the dirt, in the mud, half soaked and submerged in water, under multiple bridges, in a stranger’s garage, in airports, on buses, at bus stations, on subways, on trains, in the back of trucks, in the front seat of a stranger’s camper, and I’m sure plenty of other places that slip my mind.
I’ve gotten to the point where I really just don’t care where I sleep. I always have a hammock, I always have a tarp, and I always have a closed cell foam mattress and a sleeping bag to wrap myself in – I can literally bed down anywhere, with or without trees… and I have.
The location doesn’t phase me. The quality of sleep doesn’t phase me. I just want to get off my feet, lay down, and close my eyes. I don’t care if I toss and turn. I don’t care if I wake up every hour for whatever reason. It just doesn’t matter. I love it. I love being out here, wherever “here” happens to be. I love winging it. I love flying by the seat of my pants and having no idea what’s around the corner. I love to hate it. I love loving it. And I especially love being comfortable with whatever uncomfortable thing happens to me – it’s all just another page in the book of my unconventional life.
All in all, today was an uneventful day. The Kissimmee Prairie is pretty, but it’s also very desolate (at least the parts that go through the FT).
The trail was wide, flat, and covered in either thick grass or deep sand. Hardly any oak hammocks to walk beneath, but plenty of palmetto fields to walk through.
With minimal distractions, we made good time. Even with three long breaks totaling more than 2 hours altogether – we still knocked out 19 miles with about 40 minutes of daylight to spare.
Animal encounters were minimal. Saw probably half a dozen deer, and one dead pygmy rattler on the trail. It had obviously been killed by a hiker, but we never found out who. It was fresh enough not to have gone into rigor mortis even a little bit, so it had only been dead a few hours at most. What a shame.
At one point I saw a buzzard on the trail eating something. It flew away when we got close. Low and behold – it was pecking out chunks of a coyote turd. Never seen nor heard of that until today. Gross!
We hiked with the owner of “Shaw’s Hostel” in Monson, Maine – just off the Appalachian Trail and right before the 100 mile wilderness. A guy in his late 30s named “Poet.” We’ve met him a couple times already out here, but this was the first day we shared miles. His wife and their children are out here supporting him in an SUV and camper, so he stays with them most nights. He’s a really nice, authentic, and genuinely cool guy. I hope we hike around him more, but he’s moving a bit quicker than us with the family support.
We’re camped not far from the banks of the Kissimmee River in a remote campground that was supposedly an early settlement called KICCO Town, pronounced “Key-So.” We’ll hit some kind of ranch tomorrow, but I really don’t know what to expect.
This longer stretch with no towns or roads has made it feel more like a thru hike. I know there will be more roads in the future, but I think the worst of them are behind us… I hope. I’m actually starting to get food cravings, which is nice because that’s one of my favorite aspects of thru hiking.
Katana did well. She’s been itching to hike more and more. She lets me know when she wants down to potty or hike. So far she’s been getting at least a couple to a few miles in on the trails per day. This is better than most dogs get, so I’m happy with it.
At this moment I can hear a pack of coyotes terrorizing a distant herd of cattle. The cows are sounding frantic and panicked, and the coyotes just sound like they’re having fun. Honestly, I’ve never heard cows make those kind of noises, and it’s a little disconcerting. I wonder if they got a mother’s calf…
Update** A lone cow just came charging through this campground screaming bloody murder! I don’t hear the coyotes, only the cow. I can only imagine it’s injured, or incredibly upset about something. Poor thing is raising hell!
Update* Update** The coyotes just cut across the campground in the same direction as the cow. They started howling and yapping frantically on the far north side, and then quieted. I haven’t heard the cow since. Crazy!