Florida Trail Day 70

Florida Trail- Road Walk

Day- 70
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
Spirits/Morale- tired
Wildlife encounters- dead animals
Days without shower- 1
Days without laundry- 9
Hunger/craving- none
CatFox Status- Wants to walk

Thoughts/Stories-

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.

Go to Day 71.

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26 Comments

  1. Kyle, I thank you so much for your daily blogs. I feel like I’m right there hiking with you and Catfox and Schweppes. I have read all of your books.
    Much love to you, from me, in Nebraska.
    💯 💞💕

  2. Thank you for creating/sharing these! Been following along since the AT, and I look forward to reading them every day.

  3. If it wasn’t for YOU, we wouldn’t be here… so thank YOU!! Looking forward to your FT book and to find out what you plan to do after the FT!!

  4. A new challenge for you. Since you have had to carry Katana most of this trip I think she should write the FT book. “The Florida Trail Through The Eyes of CatFox”

  5. I love your blogs and I want to go back and read past trail blogs. I just finished your first book and totally loved it (Despite what you have said, you area a great writer and and a good story teller). I have downloaded the second book, but haven’t started it yet. I am waiting until your Florida trail is complete before I start because I am going to
    need something to read. I will truly miss the daily updates from the trail. Thank you for sharing your daily notrs.

  6. I have followed your hikes from the start of the Appalachian trail and love every story.
    Still waiting for a book on the PCT.

  7. Thank you for your blogs and books! I have read them all and I look forward to your daily notes on this hike, I am thrilled about your book on the FT! Thank you! I appreciate your hard work on all of this and for taking such good care of Katana! I love the stories about her and I also do worry about her out there! Its wonderful how you take care of her and also yourself! Hang in there!

  8. I will just agree with everything everyone else has said,especially Terry. As soon as I get home from work,I check my email to see if you have a new entry. Your experiences are so far removed from what my life is like that I need to read them just to get lost in the descriptions and photos. Thank you SO much for posting and sharing all this with us!

  9. This is the first blog i have ever read lol and enjoy reading these at night. Already have your book to read next. Tho this florida trail sounds pretty horrible to deal with. I was thinking def. A massage and Take care of those legs and feet! Ps. What a great dog too! My neighbors dog i think is the same breed as katana i keep wanting to call her katana lol

  10. Thanks for the blogs. I’ve read your books and I’m a huge fan of you and Katana. My trail dog has retired but is still wonderful so it is so special to me to read about Catfox continuing on the trail.

  11. Your blog is like reading a chapter out of a book every night. I always look forward to the new release around 5 pm. Thanks for sharing your adventures and taking us along with you and Katana.

  12. If I had known about your blogs on your other hikes I would have followed along the whole time! They are great! I’ve read your books on the AT and PCT, but seeing all of the pictures is amazing. Really enjoying all the pics.

  13. Love to read your progress!!! It’s such an encouragement! Some days I read your blog to my 18 year old son. The stories are incredible!!!! Thank you!

  14. I can’t imagine how you deal with the swampy miles. You’re made of pretty tough stuff for sure!

  15. You and Katana inspire me in ways I cannot describe. I love reading and seeing your adventures and always look forward to the next update. Keep on trekking, keep on inspiring, and keep on blogging! Be safe out there.

  16. Keep up the good work Kyle! I enjoy reading the blog and the books when they come out. Inow my mind I’m trying to walk along with you. Thank you!

  17. Mayor, I can’t tell you how much I look forward to your blogs! You face all sorts of odds and yet you and Katana carry on, regardless! A day without you blog is like a day without sunshine. From an animal lovers point of view, Katana NEVER ceases to amaze me! You definitely deserve that massage at the end of the FT 😉

  18. Your blogs are my daily news and I cannot express how badly I need and how much i look forward to them. I truly appreciate your efforts.

  19. I really adore the books and the daily blog posts!! Thank you. Do you think the story of a hiker with a blind dog would make a great movie, I do !! Have you thought of a screenplay ??

  20. I look forward each day at 5 pm to read your blog. I hope some day they make a movie about you & your travels. You & Katana make this a very unique story!

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