Date- March 16, 2019
Location- Bull Campsite
Elevation- 253 feet
Distance Traveled Today- 16.5 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,003.9 miles
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- Coachwhip snake, black racer snake
Days without shower- 2
Days without laundry- 2
CatFox Status- Jazzy
Hippie Chick dropped us off on trail and we were hiking by 10 am. Since we got our resupply already and had the convenience of their vehicle – we went ahead and started at the trailhead that was 6 miles back from the alternate we took into Defuniak. We preferred to just start on trail, rather than walk another 6 miles of road on the alternate before reconnecting with official Florida Trail. This also meant that the 6 miles we hiked into Defuniak the other day was basically for nothing (besides resupply). However, I’m still counting them towards our total miles hiked… which when combined with the miles hiked today, puts us over 1,000 miles hiked on this trail. So, happy 1,000 miles to us! The first thousand are always the hardest, but every thousand after that is cake 😉
Today was some of my favorite trail of this entire journey. Poet decided to join us for the remainder of the hike, and I’m very glad he did. Both Schweppes and I enjoy his company immensely. His presence also helps lessen the endless amounts of shit-talking we give each other on a daily basis.
Almost all guys rib each other to one extent or another, but there is nowhere else but the south where it happens almost continuously and so brutally between male friends. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, but all my southern friends talk shit to each other on an almost endless basis. You could almost even say it’s the foundation of many southern male friendships. This may seem stupid and alien to some of you, but others will understand. There’s really nothing to it, and almost never any hard feelings. It’s tough to explain, but there’s just something entertaining about roasting your friends and being roasted every chance you (or they) get. I’ll leave it at that for now.
The trail across the Eglin Range today was the best, most meticulously maintained trail I have seen so far. Well blazed, signs everywhere, bog bridges, footbridges, clear trail, great campsites – you name it. Eglin is making sure no civilians are getting lost and wandering somewhere they shouldn’t. Believe me, there’s a lot of crazy stuff on this range they don’t want people knowing about (“Google Earth” won’t help you either).
The terrain today reminded me exactly of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and Virginia. The resemblance was unreal. There were even multiple climbs of close to 100 feet or more in elevation gain. The streams and springs were crystal clear and cascading in some areas. And there were even green tunnels of young magnolia and mountain laurel resembling the green tunnels of rhododendron on the AT. I’m telling you, if you blind folded me, dropped me off here and told me to guess where I was… I would never have guessed Florida. I would have said Georgia or Virginia.
Aside from the constant ups and downs, today was an eventful snake day. We found another coachwhip, but it was too fast and shot to the top of a tree. This was only the third one I’ve ever seen, so it was a big treat.
We also found another black racer. Like I promised, I managed to finally catch this one – without getting bit! In all honesty, it could have gotten away, but it was too aggressive for its own good. Twice it actually came at me, and at one point it went straight up a tree and then moved toward my face through the lower branches. It was when it came for my face that I was able to side step around, grab him out of the tree by the tail, before getting control of the head.
The most comical part of the whole capture was Katana shadowing me. She could hear the snake moving and feel my excitement. She moved along right with me the entire time, sometimes lunging directly where the snake was before I’d catch her. Her senses were incredible! If she wasn’t making a break for the snake, she had one or both paws digging at my calf or thigh. It was adorable, but her intentions were sinister. Katana is very protective of me – mainly from all other animals; but if a person sneaks up on us, she’ll go into defense mode.
We cut the day short and made a fire. We stopped where we did today so that we could do a 30 mile day tomorrow and finish in the middle of a town that will have all the food we could want. Schweppes and I have been wanting to do a 30 mile day on this trail, but haven’t yet. Tomorrow is the day – or at least that’s the plan. We’ll see how it pans out…