Date- March 2, 2019
Elevation- 43 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 22.2 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 796.2 miles
Weather/Temp- overcast, rain, 70s
Injuries- bug bites
Pain level- itchy
Wildlife encounters- Black racers
Days without shower- 0
Days without laundry- 2
CatFox Status- Amazing
It was raining, lightning, and storming as hard as I’ve ever seen it this morning (without being an emergency grade storm). We were almost tempted to just stay another day and not deal with it. Alas, we needed to grit down and start making miles again.
My long time friend (and sister to one of my best friends) Sheryl, as well as her boyfriend, gave us a lift back to St. Mark’s around 7:30am. By 8:15 we were hiking.
The trail was a paved bicycle path for the first 6 miles, affording us smooth fast walking. It wasn’t raining when we started, but by a little after 10am it was pouring down humid rain and thunder was rolling through the pines. Once again, I was thankful to have an umbrella. Even Schweppes had wised up and got one while we were in town. Umbrella Club unite!
Katana racked up between 5 and 6 miles between the bicycle path and some old road beds that weren’t too flooded for her. I don’t even have to brag on her or explain how well she does anymore. She’s got this “blind thing” figured out 110%. The only reason she isn’t hiking full time is for safety reasons (roads, gators, river bank drop offs), and time restraints (our miles would be halved if I let her work out every single trail condition as we encountered it). Bottom line… this dog is set for life, and my mind couldn’t be any more at ease over it.
When we weren’t on a bicycle path or old forest road bed, we were hiking in dense pine forest and palmettos. No shortage of mud, water, and muddy water on trail, but nothing to really slow you down too much – just enough to sog up the feet.
The tiny biting black flies have been terrible. I’ve been massacred by biting insects for this entire hike, and it’s the one thing I’m most looking forward to putting behind me with the completion of this trail. For itch relief, I bought a bottle of hydrogen peroxide with a windex-like spray nozzle on it. Instant itch relief, plus antiseptic for all the open cuts and scratches everywhere. It even works as a repellent during short breaks. It’s a little heavy, but it’s a nice, new, multipurpose hiking hack.
While trudging across damp, pine straw strewn trail, I came upon a 4 ft black racer snake. No sooner had I spotted it on trail, it had taken off away from me… then moved back towards me, then made a wide looping arc around me before swinging back across the trail behind Schweppes and disappearing into the brush. It never ceases to amaze me how insanely fast they are. A black racer snake can be an ophiophobiac’s (snake-a-phobic) worst nightmare.
Like many things, black racers also hold a special place in my heart. There are no other snake species that have bit me more times than black racers. They move so quickly that it’s extremely difficult to grab one without it whipping back or doubling back up itself and tagging you on the hand or arm. I’ve even been bit on the stomach by them. They’re a very mean snake that makes for a terrible pet – I just find them a blast to try to catch. Maybe I’ll catch one before the end and get some good pictures.
We wrapped up the day with a 4 mile road walk into the town of Wakulla. We’ve got a 70+ mile stretch through Apalachicola National Forest starting tomorrow. This will be one of the longer stretches with no resupply since the first 200 miles of trail. I’m looking forward to a few days of zero civilization for a change. The weather is supposed to be terrible again, but we’ll see…