Date- January 23, 2019
Location- Palm Bay
Distance Traveled Today- 25.3 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 264.6 miles
Weather/Temp- Overcast/rainy/ partly cloudy/ 80s
Pain level- sore feet
Wildlife encounters- hogs, gators, raccoons, gar
Days without shower- 7
Days without laundry- 7
CatFox Status- Happy as a clam
Food Eaten – bacon jerky, pizza
It lightly rained on us 3 times last night. Never hard or long enough to need to put up the rain fly, but I was ready.
There was a low ceiling of thick clouds all night, helping to seal in the warm air from the daylight hours, keeping it from escaping into the atmosphere. So despite the sprinkling rain, it was a very comfortable evening.
We had miles and smiles to make, so we were up by 6:30 am and hiking shortly after 7am. As of right now, it’s still dark at 6:30 am, and it’s almost completely dark by 6:30 pm.
It was overgrown to the point of easily losing the path for the first 3 miles or so. Out of character for this trail thus far. Even the blazes were faded and worn enough to be easy to miss.
As we tracked along an overgrown fence line, a large herd of hogs spooked up out of the brush. They charged across a small slough before trampling a thick line of vegetation on the far side.
Continuing to move quickly, we found ourselves on yet another dangerous highway road walk. Not a reroute, not a shortcut, just good ole’ road trail – for the next 5 miles.
In a way it was a blessing because we crushed that portion of the day as quickly as possible. It gave us a much needed time and distance boost to finish at a reasonable hour.
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of walking for extended periods of time or distance on highways, here is a little known fact… They are basically paved pathways to hell – for people sometimes, but mostly for animals. Highways are like gigantic, endlessly long death sentences for animals. Speeding in our cars, we only see a fraction of the creatures that get hit. Walking along the shoulder and in the grass… you see and smell all of them – mostly in extreme states of flattened decomposition.
You wouldn’t think so, but a vast majority of the victims are birds. Lots of little ones, but plenty of raptors as well. The victims which stuck out the most to me today were another (unlucky) pond slider that took a direct hit, and a very depressing triple homicide raccoon kill. I have no idea what the tragic circumstances must have been for all three to get hit so close together. Terrible way to leave this place.
It rained off and on during the road walk and remained quite windy and overcast – luckily. But as noon rolled around, the clouds broke up a bit, the humidity sky rocketed, and the absurdly powerful southern sun poked through.
By 1 pm we had nearly 15 miles and had stopped for a break near an old culvert on a remote gravel road that split through Fodderstack Slough.
Here we found a couple of raccoons catching and eating sucker fish trapped in the culvert. Due to the recent drought, water levels in the slough were dangerously low. What used to be one large body of water, was now three separate pools and a culvert with fast evaporating water and fish trapped within it.
The raccoons scrambled out of there pretty quick, but then we found about a 3 foot gar fish trapped in a 10 inch deep pond. Try as I might to fish it out with a long stick and move it to a deeper pond – it evaded me and we eventually had to move on. If we don’t get a considerable amount of rain soon, I fear it will be dead inside a few more days.
We took the last 10 to 11 miles of trail pretty leisurely, as we were doing great on time. Our only plan was to get to where the trail crossed under the Florida Turnpike and meet my sister. I’d dropped a location pin and sent it to her earlier, so she knew where to pick us up.
The trail was a mixture of oak Hammocks, gravel roads, palmetto prairies, and slender pine forests. Nothing too crazy as far as terrain or wildlife. Just easy hot walking.
We hiked the last mile in the dark without headlamps and reached the turnpike a little before 7pm. The pike was insanely busy with traffic and took some serious fly by night shenanigans to pull off the nighttime pickup, but it was successful!
So we’ll be off trail the next few days for Billy Goat days. Hopefully I’ll have some good stories. Hopefully I can do day by day posts, but more than likely I’ll have to wrap this coming weekend into one single post. If I run out of the daily buffer of daily journals I’ve built up, then there might have to be a few days of no updates until I can build up another buffer.
Katana is doing great! Every day she wants to hike more and more, and every day she gets a little bit better at staying on track. Certain trail conditions provide greater distractions, but we’re slowly working through them. The smells and sounds are all she has, and I’m remaining very sympathetic to that…