Date- February 10, 2019
Distance Traveled Today- 8 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 491.4 miles
Weather/Temp- overcast, rainy
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- zero
Days without shower- 0
Days without laundry- 0
CatFox Status- Clown of the trail
Ironically, today was short, but one of the tougher days in recent memory. It also rained throughout the night and was drizzling on and off throughout the day.
We started at 9am, and the first mile was gravy down a paved road. After that first mile, things got… dicey.
The next 5 miles were all along dirt service roads. It should have been very quick and easy hiking, except for one thing – they had been washed out or rutted out so deeply in a bunch of areas, that it was waist deep every couple hundred feet.
Neither of us wanted to wade through the super deep and dark, dirty road water, so we would end up bushwhacking around them through the woods – getting cut up and snagged up on untold numbers of vines and plants. It cut our pace in half, and made for very monotonous hiking.
Katana had a blast running around the wide open roads between puddles, even falling into ditch water a few times and then rolling around in the mud and snorting. She was a happy, dirty little dog today!
The last two miles were overgrown, flooded, muddy, unkempt trail that looked like it had barely been hiked on. The going was slow and arduous once again. Then, just before emerging onto SR20 where we could get into Palatka… we had to do a thigh deep wade across a roadside ditch – the kind that would have gators in it if we were a little further south.
All in all, it took us over 5 hours to go 8 miles, which is a terrible pace – especially when we only took one break. It would have been frustrating if we were shooting for a full day.
We were able to summon an Uber to take us into Palatka just before the rain really began to come down. The weather is supposed to be even worse tomorrow, but I think we’ll hike out no matter what. It’s going to be nice to cross that 500 mile mark – it holds a special significance to me on long hikes…
I’ve been trying to figure out what my least favorite constant aspect of this trail is. I could easily say the congested road walks, but they’re not something I have to worry about every day. I could say the wet trail, but I’ve actually enjoyed that part more than I thought I would. I could also say the extreme range of daytime temperatures, but even those are something I’m somewhat accustomed to.
No, If I had to pick one thing, it would definitely be the “drinking water” situation. I have to find, procure, and purify water every single day out here – one way or another. The water in Florida has been mostly standing, or extremely slow moving. None of it has been cold. None of it has tasted fresh. And most of it is the color of cow piss. Even the tap and well water tastes (and smells) strongly of sulfur, rust, or fluoride. Drinking water out here has not been a pleasure or refreshing. For the first time on a thru hike, I actually look forward to bottled water. I’m dreaming of the day I get to drink straight from an ice cold high mountain stream or spring. Soon… very soon.