Date- March 17, 2019
Elevation- 164 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 30 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,033.9 miles
Weather/Temp- overcast, 50s,60s
Injuries- sore feet
Pain level- moderate
Wildlife encounters- black racer
Days without shower- 0
Days without laundry- 3
CatFox Status- tired
We woke up bright and early to a crispy cool morning and were hiking by 7:30 am. Today we were shooting for the big 30 miles. Honestly, I’m surprised it’s taken us this long to attempt a 30 mile day, but it’s harder than you might think with a dog on your pack… or with a dog in general. Believe it or not, it’s usually my stamina that comes into question when doing a 30 with Katana, not hers. She just runs me rampant.
For the second day in a row I’ve been blown away by the trail maintenance here on Eglin. The trail is flawless, as well as the forest management. Regular controlled burns have kept the undergrowth in check, giving you a forest you can see clear-through and even walk around freely. This is an amazing change of pace from the usually impenetrable forest we’ve seen so far.
The terrain was more rolling hills, steep ravines, and crystal clear streams and springs. The water has been the most pleasant surprise of this section so far – hands down the best water of the entire trail. Flowing strong, clear as a bell, great taste, cool, and lots of it all over the place. In fact, I had no idea these kinds of water sources existed right in my backyard, because everything I’ve seen locally my entire life has been discolored by tannins. I can’t wait to come back out here after this hike and spend some time in these areas.
Once again, it didn’t feel like I was hiking in Florida. The day itself was fairly uneventful, but the hiking was amazing. Not too easy, but not too difficult either. Lots of eye candy, plus lots of gentle and not so gentle climbs that lasted more than just a few seconds.
We stayed relentless the entire day – taking only two breaks on trail, as well as a couple water fill-ups. I fell a little behind while letting Katana rack up some miles late in the day. When I finally hit the road into Crestview, there was a little over 4 miles left to cap off a 30 mile day. I caught up with Schweppes and Poet a couple miles in while they were grabbing a bite. Together, we finished out the 30 mile day a little after darkness fell.
Hippie Chick came to get Poet at the gas station where we finished, but not before an older African American man came up to us and sang/played “Country Boy Can Survive” on his harmonica. I’m not sure what his inspiration was… but this was another first for me.
Poet is going back with Hippie Chick to Grayton Beach tonight, then moving their camper to Pensacola Beach tomorrow morning and coming out to meet us. Schweppes and I are just going to get a room since it’s a 20 mile road walk from here. No place to really camp unless we were to hike quite a few more miles outside of town and out of the residential areas.
It feels awkward hiking through these familiar places – seeing them from this more or less homeless perspective. I used to live in Crestview for a year when I was a kid, and I have many friends who live here now. In fact, I had 3 message me saying that they saw/heard I was walking through town with a dog on my shoulders, and even had one pull over on the side of the highway to say “Hey,” and offer me a place to stay. I don’t know if I feel embarrassed or proud for people I know to see me in “hiker mode.”
I’m not looking forward to more road tomorrow, but it will be all familiar places…