Date- March 9, 2019
Location- behind public library
Elevation- 125 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 18 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 897.6 miles
Weather/Temp- part cloudy/high 70s
Injuries- scabbed cuts and scrapes
Pain level- low
Wildlife encounters- dead animals
Days without shower- 1
Days without laundry- 9
CatFox Status- Wants to walk
I’m really beginning to feel like Frodo from the “Lord of the Rings” again. The closer I get to the end goal, the heavier the task weighs on me.
It seems the further along this trail we get, the more extensive the challenges become. It’s towards the end of a thru-hike that your body and mind begin to stretch thin. Both are still strong, but they’ve been down in the trenches for so long that it’s more of a battle-weary grimness. The mind is strong and willing, but tired. The body is also strong and willing, but has been chipped away over the course of many miles.
I’ve often quoted, “The harder the struggle, the sweeter the victory.” As we’ve entered the home stretch of the Florida Trail, it has thrown its most taxing, monotonous, and stressful obstacles at us: the deepest, longest, wettest, muckiest, overgrown swamps – and the longest, busiest, road walks. It’s like getting kicked when you’re down. But… it’s also the best way to finish a thru-hike (in my opinion). Overcoming all of that adversity makes for a very high, high – when the finish line is finally crossed.
Today was just another day on a road – 18 straight miles on busy pavement without a trail in sight. It was a somber march as well, since this is part of the area most affected by Hurricane Michael. There were blue tarp roofs everywhere, crumbled infrastructure, debris, as well as snapped and toppled trees. A stark reminder of what happened here, but also the immense effort it takes to return to normalcy.
I’ve been through two major hurricanes and multiple tropical storms in my part of Florida and know firsthand the devastation it causes to lives and property. I’ve never had to experience losing everything, but my heart truly empathizes with the countless victims we passed today.
After crossing the massive Apalachicola River, we were officially in the central standard time zone. Basically all that happened was that we lost the hour of daylight we’d worked so hard to gain over the past couple months. When I first got out here, it was dark by 6 pm. As spring slowly crept up and the days got longer, it eventually stayed light out until 7 pm. Now that we finally achieved a full extra hour of daylight… we’ve lost it and it’s dark at 6 again. HOWEVER… ironically enough, tomorrow is daylight savings and we will be getting that hour back less than 24 hours after we lost it! So that’s pretty cool, but it would have been a lot cooler if we could have enjoyed daylight until 8 pm for a little while…
I haven’t really talked about the physical toll this hike has taken on me – especially with Katana. It may or may not surprise you, but carrying her on my pack for around 700 of the last 900 miles has really done a number on my neck, shoulders, and upper back. The sheer tension that has built up is nothing like anything I have experienced before. It’s gotten to the point that my neck and shoulders actually hurt more when I try to relax them. I find myself in a constant state of tense muscles – holding my shoulders bunched up high and tense (both consciously and unconsciously). When I try to consciously relax them without my pack on, I get sharp pains and pulls under my scapula that cause me to tense them up again. If you are curious to know the state of feeling that I’m almost constantly in… just try to shrug your shoulders up to touch your ears for as long as you can. That’s what it feels like I’m doing; ALL – THE – TIME.
I plan on getting a 2 hour deep tissue massage as a gift to myself after this hike. It’s going to hurt so good!
We made camp under a large pavilion in a small park behind an even smaller (very rural) public library. I’ve hung my hammock between the thick steel beams of the structure, while Schweppes is camped about 15 feet away and Critter about 60 ft away.
No crazy tales from the roads today. Maybe tomorrow!
Speaking of which, there are actually quite a few stories and characters that I have not included in the blog, but that I have outlined in my “blog notes.” I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough material for a potential book when I began this hike, but now that it’s almost over… I can tell you that I do have enough for a nice little book about the Florida Trail.
I’m not sure if I’ve shared this information before – but… the books I write are for you, and the blogs I write are for me. I write these blogs for myself. They are my memory joggers. When I go back to read them, as well as my notes and outlines (which don’t make it onto the blog), I am transported back to the day in which they were written on trail – remembering tiny details and events I never had the time or energy to write about fully. This is immensely helpful and useful when it comes to writing the eventual books.
The only reason I allow the public to read them, is accountability. It helps me hold myself accountable to write every night out here when I know people are waiting to read about it. That’s it. The blog is the day by day snapshot for me to go back and weave into a fluid motion picture of thoughts, stories, and experiences. The snapshots are for me. The full length movie is for you!
And I thank you for being here every day to hold me accountable. I literally could not do this without you.