Date- February 4, 2019
Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 66 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 21.1 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 406.5 miles
Weather/Temp- partly cloudy/ 70s
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- birds
Days without shower- 1
Days without laundry- 3
CatFox Status- Happy to walk again
Food Eaten – Spaghettios, McDonald’s, tuna
400 miles down, 700 more to go!
Checked out early for once and left the room around 9am and called a ride back to McDonald’s. Ate breakfast, then picked up the trail right where we left off yesterday on the sidewalk next to said McDonald’s.
We blasted out the last 6.5 miles of sidewalk, bike path, and road walking before FINALLY getting back in the woods. The last mile and a half or so was along a busy highway where a ton of construction was going on. I noticed a worker taking pictures of us from way up on the scaffolding of a bridge that was being built. I waved, but didn’t think anything of it.
Once back in the woods, we continued to move quickly through the palm hammocks, oak hammocks, and scrub plains.
Around 12 miles into the day we came across the clearest and freshest water of the entire trail. An aqueduct spring called “Shark Tooth Spring.” The water was clear, fresh, and without a sulfur taste – but it wasn’t very cold considering it was coming straight out of the earth. I hear this is typical of natural aqueduct water.
After moving on from the spring I got a text from Hippie Chick and Poet inviting us to join them for canoeing at Juniper Springs. This was such a unique and welcomed opportunity, we couldn’t say no. Plus, we absolutely adore this family.
Poet has been about 30 miles ahead of us for the last few days. We’ve been slowly gaining on him, but luckily he’d taken some time off to be with his wife and kids. I let them know the nearest road we could reach by tomorrow and they said they’d pick us up there around 9:30am. Sweet!
In order to get where we needed to be by 9:30 tomorrow morning, we had to go a little further tonight. We did about 3.5 miles in the dark and finished up around 7:45 pm with soaking wet shoes and feet from nighttime wading through the forest.
I’m telling you, I really-really like all this water on trail. I feel like it wouldn’t have been a true Florida experience without it. The water adds an extra layer to this unique adventure that I’ve had yet to find on the other trails. Call me crazy, call me dumb, call me anything (except late for dinner), but I’m enjoying this wet trail. My feet are holding up wonderfully, so I have no complaints.
Speaking of which, I remedied the heel issue in my shoe by adjusting the position and tension of my speed laces. Now I can tell you with great confidence that I might be sold on these Hoka‘s. They have insane cushion, stabilize my feet, and seem to be very rugged. I hate to move away from Altra, but Altra moved away from me first. I’m looking forward to seeing how these new ones do/feel after some more breaking in.
I’ve said it before, but this is one lonely trail. There are easily far, far less people out here than on the CDT. Since Billy Goat Day, the only other thru hiker we’ve seen on trail is Song Bird. No one else. And I could count on one hand the number of day hikers we run into on a weekly basis. There’s just nobody out here on these trails. If it weren’t for towns and little pockets of civilization being so close together out here – it would easily surpass the CDT in loneliness and overall scarcity of humans in general.
It’s not hard to see why so many seasoned and not so seasoned hikers quit this trail. The boredom, the lack of human interaction, the lack of real physical exertion, the abundance of submerged trail, the lack of views, the flatness, the road walks, the insanely bipolar temperatures, the multitude of biting insect species and sharp plants, etc.
Most people site boredom and “lack of fun” as the reason for quitting this trail. They say “Oh, it wasn’t hard, I was just bored and not having any fun.” Well, that’s part of the difficulty of this trail. The point is to hike the entire thing and see the state of Florida. That is the objective, that is the goal. If you set out to achieve that and quit… then the trail has beaten you. Even if “having fun” is also one of your main objectives and you’re not accomplishing it – then the trail has still beaten you. Fun is what you make it. The trail is what you make it. You either stick it out through the boredom and not-so-fun stretches… or you make your own fun. Make your own entertainment; read, listen to music, learn a new language. There are literally countless things you could entertain or better yourself with, while walking or resting.
That’s one of the great hurdles of long distance hiking – especially if you’re going to hike multiple trails. Not every trail or every day is going to be a giant pub crawl or social gathering like the AT and PCT can sometimes be. Some will only be about the hiking and being by yourself. If that’s not for you… then perhaps neither is long distance hiking in and of itself – or at least in the sense of diversifying the trails you long distance hike…
I’m excited for tomorrow!