Date- March 19
Distance Traveled Today- 23 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,065.8 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 60s
Pain level- low
Wildlife encounters- zero
Days without shower- 0
Days without laundry- 5
CatFox Status- Feels my excitement
So I woke up this morning to a message from the owner of the cell phone. Go figure that they would contact me as soon as I turned it over to the police. They were very grateful in their message and eager to meet me wherever I was. I regretfully informed them that I had turned their phone over to the Crestview police, and they could easily reclaim it from them. After they read this response from me, there was no further reply. Not a “Thank you!” Not an, “Okay!” Nothing. They were obviously not happy to hear this. I’ll be very curious to know if they get it back or what happens from here. I’m not sure if I’m going to follow up and ask or not, but I probably won’t. I’m just glad I no longer have the phone in my possession and don’t have to deal with the individual. So that’s that, for now. I still haven’t decided if I want to share all the details of this situation yet.
We knocked out around 9 more miles of road before finally getting back on trail and having a short lunch break. I tried something I haven’t done on trail before. I’d packed out some thin strips of bottom round steak, as well as some lemon juice. I double bagged the meat and then added all the lemon juice into the bag before swishing it all around and letting the meat settle as submerged as possible in the juice. About half an hour later, I had a very simplified version of beef kelaguen. The meat was raw, yet it looked and tasted more or less like cooked meat. The acid in the lemon chemically cooks/cures the meat. You can do it with chicken too, believe it or not. I threw the strips on a roll of French bread I packed out, along with some extra sharp cheddar. Voila… raw steak and cheese sandwich.
Several miles after lunch, we found ourselves in the middle of an active controlled burn. However, we didn’t see any firefighters and the trail wasn’t marked closed… so we decided to make a go of it.
We hiked nearly a mile into the burn before the smoke and flames got a little too thick for comfort. After that, we backtracked a quarter mile and cut a short distance off the trail to get on a service road that would bypass this entire section since we didn’t know how large the burn was.
Several hundred yards down the road, we found the firefighters monitoring their burn. We talked to them for 20 minutes before they pointed us down a different service road that would put us back on trail in less than half a mile, and out of the burn zone. They didn’t lead us astray.
As usual, the trail was meticulously maintained and an absolute pleasure to hike. The water sources continued to be plentiful and clear. However, for the first time on this hike, I lost my shoe. I sunk up to my shin in what looked like shallow mud. As I attempted to step out of it, my shoe stuck like it was in cement, tripping me into the mud on my bare foot. For the life of me I couldn’t wrench the shoe out with my hands. After I’d tried a couple of times, I called Poet over to see for himself. I was in disbelief at how firmly it was stuck, as well as the crazy amount of effort it took Poet to help get it out. Unreal!
All day we pushed long miles and took long breaks – savoring our last days on trail. Don’t get me wrong; I’m excited to get this one over with, but you still get depressed at the thought of going back to “normal life,” even if it is for just a little while. 😉
The last 4.5 miles of the day were on residential roads leading to Highway 87 – a highway I drive nearly every day when I’m home… and the highway that leads directly south into the heart of my hometown of Navarre.
The trail came out onto 87 not too far from I-10 and several motels. Rather than camp on the side of the highway again, the three of us split a room. Tomorrow I will hike into Navarre and officially be home. I imagine it will feel strange being home while still having a couple days of hiking left. Either way, I can’t convey how exciting it is to have hiked all the way home!