Date- March 4, 2019
Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 46 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 17.1 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 813.3 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 60s, 50s
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- black racer
Days without shower- 2
Days without laundry- 4
CatFox Status- Amazing girl
If we thought we’d made a good choice yesterday, we knew it for sure today. Tornadoes produced by the storm had killed more than 20 people across the south. I don’t know if that number rose at all, but that was just from a glance at the news around 8am.
Schweppes, Critter, Katana, and I hiked out around 9:30am and did a resupply at Dollar General. By a little after 10 am, we were making forward progress. Shortly before noon, we’d crossed the 800 mile mark. I can’t wait to eclipse that 1,000 mile mark!
Although it was a beautiful day with cool temperatures, this was some of the roughest hiking of the trail (in my opinion).
We crossed into Apalachicola National Forest around noon. No sooner than we did… trail conditions got rough. Thus far, I had not seen as many blow downs, overhanging vegetation/small trees, mud, water, ticks, and small roller coaster climbs crammed into a single section (which is still far from over).
It was difficult to build up a consistent pace with the high volume of obstacles plaguing the trail. Despite their inconvenience, I welcomed them. They’re like exercise for the brain. So much of the hiking out here can be performed on what you might call “auto pilot” – just move your feet and go. But with so many obstacles, you’re constantly having to find routes around them, or physically push stuff out of your way. You have to actually think and pay attention.
I busted my ass harder today than any other time on this journey. The trail had been meandering along the beautiful Sopchoppy River, doing its thing with dips and dives. I’d been letting Katana hike the trail at her own pace, so Schweppes and Critter were ahead.
We came upon a sinkhole in the trail where a narrow V-scar section of bank and trail had collapsed and washed into the river. It was a steep 12 ft drop on either side of the scar, and the water that had filled it was waist deep at the deepest and about 6 feet across. Once again, I thought I could leap the gap with Katana in my arms.
I descended the steep bank of the scar to the edge of the water with Katana tucked under my arm like a football. Eyeballing the gap across the water, I was sure I could make the leap this time. I even backed up a step to give myself a tiny hop-skipping boost of momentum before taking the main leap. I went for it… soared across the water and landed with both feet on the far bank – unfortunately, the bank where I landed instantly crumbled as I slid and began to topple backwards into the deep scar of water. As I fell, I sloppily handed off Katana and my staff to the steep bank as my left arm shot behind me to brace against…. water.
Katana clung safely and dryly to the loose bank as my ass hit the water in a sideways backwards tumble. If it wasn’t for my left hand catching muddy bottom, I would have gone all the way under. Instead, I submerged everything from the bellybutton down, as well as most of the entire left side of the top half of my body. It was purely good fortune that my phone didn’t submerge where it was attached to the chest strap of my pack.
I don’t really know what happened, but when my feet and fist made contact with the far bank, my entire left leg had gone numb for a split second before shooting up and down with a strange tingling feeling. That tingling feeling lasted a good two minutes after the incident, getting me nice and worried about potential injuries. Alas, the tingles went away and I feel no worse for the wear as I hang here in my hammock.
Shortly after the fall, I changed out of my wet clothes in the chilly evening air and put on my short running shorts and a base layer top. There was no way the other clothes were drying with only an hour of weak daylight left. It had been a bad time to fall in the river.
Katana didn’t get a lot of hiking in today, but the hiking she did get was quality. She did an amazing job leading me down narrow trail without missing so much as a beat or a command.
With our later start combined with rough trail conditions we didn’t get as many miles as we would have liked. Regardless, it was a nice day and we hiked strong, and it was good to be on trail and not roads. If trail conditions don’t get any worse tomorrow, we should knock down some good numbers in this cool air….