Date- February 12, 2019
Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 105 feet
Distance Traveled Today- 23.3 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 518.8 miles
Weather/Temp- high 70s, cloudy, scattered showers
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- deer, black racer snakes
Days without shower- 2
Days without laundry- 2
CatFox Status- Trooper
Ok, NOW we crossed the 500 mile mark.
I awoke last night to what sounded like a very large animal foraging around nearby. When I shone my headlamp at the noise, the biggest – fattest Armadillo I’ve ever seen scurried off into the scrub. That sucker had to have been over 20 pounds! It was a tank.
We rolled out around 8am sharp, and from the get go, it was mud and knee deep water for the first more than half mile. A great way to begin the day, and we figured there would be a lot more to come. Nope. After that initial wet start, it was dry the rest of the day. The trail just wanted our feet wet and soggy for the first part of it.
Katana actually hiked around 5 or 6 miles today. She was a champ, although I could still tell that her tail was bothering her. I reckon it’ll be several days before it really starts to heal.
All day we pushed hard in 5 to 7 mile increments again. Around 2 pm we took lunch at one of the few shelters on the Florida Trail called Iron Bridge Shelter. Last night we’d stayed at Oak Hammock Shelter.
While eating, a message came through on Facebook Messenger from one of my FB friends named “Varney Michael.” He’s a trail maintainer here on the FT. He was with a crew doing some work around the shelter we’d stayed at last night. He was messaging to let me know he’d found Katana’s harness and leash at the shelter. Her tag has both our names on it , so he knew who it belonged to immediately since we were already connected online.
He asked where I wanted to have it returned to me, and I told him wherever was most convenient for him. He asked where I was, and I told him “Iron Bridge Shelter.” He then told me a woman named “Margaret the Hammer” would have it to me in about 20 minutes. Wow!
Low and behold, an older woman named Margaret pulled up in a truck (on a nearby service road) about half an hour later and put Katana’s harness in my grateful little hands. How about that!
I hadn’t even realized I’d forgotten it, since I only put it on her in towns or during busy road walks. It would have broken my heart if we lost that harness and leash; we’ve had it for going on 4 years now. Almost everything of value that I lose on the trails seems to find its way back to me – sentimental gold chains, my staff, and now a dog harness.
The rest of the day passed quickly and uneventfully, for the most part. We hit a road walk at the 17 mile mark for the day. On the map, it looked like dirt roads in the middle of nowhere, but they turned out to be paved residential.
Our initial plan had been to hike for a while on the roads and then camp off to the side when a good spot revealed itself. Unfortunately, this was all fenced-in private land. We ended up getting stuck walking for over 6 miles on the roads (most of it in the dark), before finding a small opening into some woods on an undeveloped stretch of road.
The forecast is calling for rain most of the night and into the morning. I hope it quits early, because there’s nothing more depressing than breaking camp in the rain…