Date- March 20, 2019
Location- Navarre Beach
Elevation- 7 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 20.4 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,086.2 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 60s
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- zero
Days without shower- 1
Days without laundry- 6
CatFox Status– Buck Wild
Today was awesome! Honestly, it feels like the hike is over. I can’t picture the end of this trail (27 miles further west) feeling any better than today did, but who knows.
We hiked the first 2.5 miles on Hwy 87 before melting back into the woods where we were greeted with more Grade-A trail. As the trail Gods would have it, the longest and steepest climbs of the entire trail were in this section that paralleled Hwy 87. There were only a few, and they still didn’t amount to much – but they were mountains compared to everything we’ve come through.
The weather was cool and clear as I hung back a bit to enjoy some solitude with Katana. I can’t really describe my feelings today other than “bittersweet.” I think that’s what everyone says about the conclusions to their long hikes, but that’s because it’s so accurately true. You’re happy for the accomplishment, but you’re sad the adventurous lifestyle is over. No more waking up in new places every morning… well maybe, depending on who you are.
There were no surprises, and nothing out of the ordinary happened. It was just a leisurely day.
By 3 pm we’d hiked over 16 miles and rejoined Hwy 87 on a sidewalk… in Navarre Beach, Florida. I was officially home.
We took an hour at a gas station to snack and drink before starting the last 4 miles onto the beach. The “beach” part of Navarre actually resides on a thin island called “Santa Rosa Island.” This island is where I’ve spent the bulk of my days growing up. It’s also where I still spend the bulk of my days when I’m actually home. It’s my idea of paradise, as well as one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been/seen. I never tire of it, and I never take it for granted. Every day that I wake up here is like seeing it all for the first time. Living here is not like real life… it’s much better.
I don’t want to bend your ear on the blog with flowery descriptions of feelings and scenery as I walked to the beach – I’ll save that for a future book. The photos on the blog (that don’t make it into the book) will fill in the verbal gap for now. Plus I’ve been incredibly exhausted lately and it’s been taking everything I have to write every night. The Frodo syndrome has been strong as of late.
We crossed over Navarre Bridge, then the causeway, and then the small bridge before landing at my second home, Navarre Pier – the longest pier on the Gulf Coast. Here we met Poet’s family, as well as his in-laws, for dinner.
We only have 27ish miles left until the end. The vast majority of those miles will be done on beach sand along the water. Since I have a fishing obsession, I had my friend Alicia take me to get some fishing gear out of my storage unit tonight. I’ve decided to carry two rods with me for this last stretch and see what there is to see from the shoreline.
I came back to the beach and met Poet and Schweppes again before showing them where we could sleep on the beach without being bothered. Camping/sleeping overnight on the beach is prohibited, and for good reason. If they did allow it, then this place would turn into another Hawaii. I know this beach like the back of my hand and have spent countless nights sleeping on it. I can come out here on any day of the year and go to spots that have zero human beings.
I’m really looking forward to the beach walk tomorrow and being able to share my home with all of you. We’re breaking up this 27ish mile stretch into 12 and 15 mile days. This way we’ll be able to take our time and camp in the sand dunes around the halfway mark.