Wednesday - Sunday, January 5th - 9th, 2011
I took the train from San Diego to Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, and finally Miami. There was lots of snow across New Mexico and near Chicago. All the scenery was great.
Four days was too much, as it was a little hard to sleep bouncing around on the train. Plus, as it was winter, it was dark most of the day and I could not enjoy the scenery. Finally, I may have caught a virus or 2 cooped up in the train during flu season. Perhaps future long train trips should be limited to two days and a night, and should be in the summer, when there's lots of daylight so the scenery can be appreciated.
Sunday, January 9th, 2011
I stayed at the Miccosukee Casino along 41 or the Tamiami Trail west of Miami. They have free shuttles from the airport and also shuttled me west to the hike for free, so this may be a reasonable way to get to the trail for other hikers.
Monday, January 10th, 2011
I visited the Miccoskee Museum and headed west to the trail at the Oasis Ranger Station. I visited a Florida Trail Association Work Crew for a while, and thanked them for their efforts. I saw Ravens, Black Vultures, and Gators.
Camp: 10 Mile Camp
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
There was lots of mud, but 6" less water than my 2006 hike. At one point drinking water was not easy to find, but I found that cypress domes that still had leaves on the trees still had water in their pools. I saw a Red Bellied Woodpecker and American Crows, plus two Eastern Ribbon Snakes, one with copper green side stripes, the other with yellowish stripes. There were also Raccoon Prints.
Camp: Oak Hill Camp / Hammock
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
At the 75 Rest stop, the vending machine guys knew all the hikers coming through and had lots of questions. I met one southbound through hiker and he said no sections were flooded all the way to Pensacola (Baloney!!). I took the blue blazed side trail north of 75, which was a more natural hike (not on a dike) through grasslands, pine/palmetto woods, and occasional cypress stands. I met a biologist studying Cougars and saw cougar footprints.
Camp: Panther Camp
Thursday, January 13th, 2011
The CCC Cabin was a plywood and 2x4 shack, and the Slaughter house was just a slab with scattered nails, so today's archeological sites were not too exciting. I had lunch at Billie Swamp Safari and visited the Ah Tha Thi Ki Museum on the Seminole Reservation. I had blisters on the balls of my feet just behind the big toes. I found a great watermelon along the road.
Camp: Deer Fence Canal
Friday, January 14th, 2011
I found a GPS along the L3 Levee (Amanda's). The blisters did not bother me too much. I saw an Eastern White Tail Deer Buck with a nice rack and Eastern Meadowlarks. I ate some Sugarcane that had fallen from harvest trucks.
Camp: L1E Levee
Saturday, January 15th, 2011
I met a couple who were section hiking the Florida Trail and gave them the GPS to send on to the Florida Trail Association. At Rardin County Park, a family gave me a soda, chips and some birthday cake.
Camp: On Lake Okeechobee north of Rardin County Park
Sunday, January 16th, 2011
I got breakfast and groceries in Pahokee, and also some athlete's foot cream. The dike was under construction between Pahokee and Port Mayaka, so I spent some time on the highway.
Camp: On Lake Okeechobee north of Port Mayaka
Monday, January 17th, 2011
I got a ride from some former Appachian Trail thru hikers and resupplied at a large grocery store in the town of Okeechobee.
Hotel: Town of Okeechobee
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
I hiked up the Kissimmee River, watching the Sandhill Cranes, Storks, Black and Turkey Vultures, various egrets, Brown and White Pelicans, and Peacocks. For today's and tomorrow's walk, the trail was rerouted off highways since my 2006 hike
Camp: Yates Marsh
Wednesday - Saturday, January 19th - 22nd, 2011
I was kind of sick, walking few miles per day and camping early. There were many Sandhill Cranes trilling and pairing off.
Sunday, January 23rd, 2011
After a tasty and large buffet breakfast at River Ranch, I met Bernard, a French hiker walking from the keys to 88 Store. We had nice conversations about many trails we had both walked and about common friends as we walked into the 3 Lakes area.
Camp: Dry Pond site
Monday, January 24th, 2011
Bernard and I walked out of 3 Lakes and I got a ride within seconds of arriving at the highway. I went to Saint Cloud and got a motel room.
Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
The day was nice, but with tornados and lighting predicted for the night, I walked the 7 miles of bike path to the town of Kissimmee and got another room.
Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
Three inches of rain fell overnight and continued until I got out of the taxi, but the weather cleared for my walk. I started at the Van Fleet Rail Trail. Much of the trail was six inches under water. I saw White Tail Deer, Raccoons, Armadillos, Pileated Woodpeckers, lots of hawks, Sandhill Cranes, and Egrets. Frogs sang all day. I found a can of chili and enjoyed it for dinner.
Camp: Trail Ford Site
Thursday, January 27th, 2011
There were lots of frogs in the trail register podiums, and I saw gators and egrets. It was a sunny, clear, cold day. The water was tannic, and tasted much better than the algae laden agricultural runoff of the previous days. I met Meg setting up a geocache. She had done much local trail work and was able to give me advice on upcoming segments. There was little flooding of the trail, but areas had neck deep floodlines, deeper at creek crossings.
Camp: Richloam Tract, Withlacoochie State Forest
Friday, January 28th, 2011
I had hotdogs, chocolate milk, and a banana at the gas station at Rich Manor. Charles and Virginia, former FTA chapter presidents and trail workers, pulled over as I walked the highway and convinced me to walk the west bank of the Withlacoochie River, even giving me a ride to the trailhead. That trail was very nice, and I met Dean and Shirley, volunteers out clearing blowdowns. I saw turtles, female Cardinals, and many other birds on the river.
Camp: Croom Tract, Withlacoochie State Forest
Saturday, January 29th, 2011
I saw 5 deer as I walked the Withlacoochie State Bike Path.
Sunday, January 30th, 2011
As I continued walking the Withlacoochie State Bike Path, people who had seen me Saturday stopped to talk.
Weather: Rain predicted February 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th.
Monday, January 31st, 2011
I walked east on the Cross Florida Greenway, or, as the locals know it, the old Cross Florida Barge Canal. I saw cardinals, and many scorpions under rotten bark or in wood tunnels.
Camp: East of 75 Land Bridge
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
Trail logs showed 2 thruhikers on the western corridor 5 and 10 days ahead of me. Sandhill Cranes were flying low and trilling. I saw hawks, and found a beer 10 minutes before the end of the day's hike.
Camp: West end of the Ocala National Forest.
Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
There were few blazes, lots of overgrowth, and many bear turds in the Ocala National Forest.
Camp: 3 miles short of 88 Store due to start of rain.
Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
It was a great pleasure to find my friend Billygoat camped behind the 88 Store; even greater when I found out he would be sticking around all day and hiking out in the morning. I decided to spend the day with him, and enjoy his company and the food at the 88 Store and the barbecue stand next door.
Billygoat said that my plan to hike the Arizona Trail after the Florida Trail would likely bring me to deep snow after just a few hundred miles, and we spent a while brainstorming alternative plans. One possibility was to start the CDT in late March, taking it slow and then hanging out in the Gila NF until the Colorado snows receded. I could buy maps in Silver City of the Gila NF to plan the extra delay loop hikes. He thought it might be interesting to hike the Colorado Trail westbound before the Colorado section of the CDT. Then I might finish the summer's hike at Rawlins, Wyoming, where there is interstate bus service to simplify getting off of, and later returning to, the CDT. The book "Colorado Trail" has full maps and trail descriptions. Durango, the western Colorado Trail terminus, has bus service, as does Denver, the eastern terminus. He thought it would be better to hike the Arizona Trail southbound starting Labor Day or so.
Camp: 88 Store
Friday, February 4th, 2011
I passed through some Red Cockaded Woodpecker plots. These birds are endangered, and biologists paint white stripes around the trunks of their nesting trees to help study and protect them. Sometimes the biologists cut artificial nesting holes in the trees, and cover them with planks. The woodpeckers drill for sap and let it drain, covering entire sections of the trunk in gooey sap to prevent predators from getting to the nests. I've heard stories of snakes climbing trees towards the nests and then falling right off when they reach the sap. I saw a 12" turtle shell and some predated turtle nests. Just before camping, I saw some fairly old/dry bear scats, one with a plastic sausage casing and another with a plastic grocery sack. So I made sure to do a good job of hanging my pack. I saw a large pine that had been struck by lightning, removing a 2x4 strip of wood all the way up the trunk. Usually I just see a strip of bark torn off.
Camp: South of Rodman Reservoir / Dam.
Saturday, February 5th, 2011
I saw Anhingas in the water at Buckman Lock. 100% humidity instantly fogged my camera lense whenever I tried to take a picture.
Camp: Rice Creek Shelter
Sunday, February 6th, 2011
I saw 3 White Tail Deer. New routing saved some road walking since my 2006 hike. I found a small machette (Dreamwalker's) in the wet sand and left it in a tree so it would not rust.
Camp: Etonia State Forest
Monday, February 7th, 2011
I saw a fox on this day of icy non-stop drizzle.
Camp: Keystone Airport
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
Since 2006, the trail had been rerouted off highways onto the Lake Butler - Palatka Rail Corridor, so thanks to the folks who made that happen. Frogs sang and I saw Pileated Woodpeckers and deer. I stopped at 4 stores along the way, and ate heartily.
Camp: Lake Butler Forest, with loud all night noise from dogs, birds, and traffic.
Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
Lake Butler Forest was largely flooded. There were many clearcuts and I could hear harvesting off through the trees. I caught up with Dreamwalker and Chuck Norris's van-supported group. It was nice to socialize after a month of hiking mostly alone. My boots, size 10 Merrell Moab Ventilators, were cracking at the flex points at either end of the balls of my feet, so Chuck took me into town and I bought 10EEEE New Balance Trail Runners as replacements.
It's funny; I found a few things along the way. One was a nice, expensive Merino wool t-shirt. Turns out Needles with the Chuck Norris group lost it. The GPS: dropped by Amanda with Chuck's group. And finally, the machette belonged to Dreamwalker. All of whom I first met today.
Thursday, February 10th, 2011
It rained hard all night and into the morning. Much of the campsite flooded, and some people had to move tents in the night. I went to a long breakfast in Lake City with the group to escape the morning's rain. Much of the trail was flooded, and big mowers had cut down much of the palmetto through the forest. The new shoes and socks were nice. I met Purple Rose and Amoeba.
Camp: Osceola Shelter
Friday, February 11th, 2011
Much of the forest along the trail had burned, and there were some navigation difficulties. Boardwalks were slippery, and I slid right off one today, as I also did yesterday. I ran into Dreamwalker, Amoeba, Purple Rose, and her husband Purple Sherpa. I saw an Armadillo and a male Cardinal.
Saturday, February 12th, 2011
I saw 2 deer, some cardinals, and I recognized the takeout boat ramp from my canoe trip down the Suwannee a couple of years ago. I showered, laundered, and resupplied in White Springs. Finally, I rejoined Chuck Norris's group (Needles, April Showers, Bushwhacker, Max, June Cleaver/Amanda, Headin' Out, and Diamond Dave), and would stay with them for days. I walked around an on-trail wedding in Stephen Foster State Park.
Camp: Suwannee River
Sunday, February 13th, 2011
Sunshine! Suwannee River! Camp Branch Sinkhole! Good Company! All You Can Eat Chinese!
Hotel: Live Oak - same hotel as canoe trip 2 years before
Monday, February 14th, 2011
We slack packed 129 past the Alapaha River. There were lots of cool pictures, good conversations, lizards sunning, and huge oak trees. The weather was pleasant for hiking.
Camp: Holton Creek
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
The was good weather and there were lots of big turtles as we slack packed. I listened to the plaintive cries of coyotes. I lost track of the group towards the end of the day.
Needles said that the book "I'm Off Then" by Hape Kerkeling would be a good one to explain the cultures of the various nationalities of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, which I plan to hike in the coming years. He recommended I start the Camino 100-150 miles into France on the Le Puy route to see yet another culture. Also, he was in favor of walking on to Finisterre, and southward further along the coast towards Portugal.
Camp: Black Unit, 3 Rivers State Forest, Suwannee River
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
We saw a 4½ foot long, 2½ inch diameter Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. There were lots of great animal sounds. I found a flaked stone Indian tool, perhaps a scraper.
Camp: San Pedro Bay
Thursday, February 17th, 2011
I found a flaked Indian Spear Point, and got photographs of a 1½ inch turtle. There were many excellent footprints in the fine sand roads.
Camp: Econfina River
Friday, February 18th, 2011
I found a Tick 3 inches apove my right hip. This was the only one on this trip that survived my tick checks long enough to leave a mark. There was a welt ¼ inch in diameter and a 16th of an inch high. The swelling went down overnight, but the redness persisted for 2 weeks. We swam in the Aucilla River.
Camp: Aucilla River north of Goose Pasture Road
Saturday, February 19th, 2011
I enjoyed the deer and the sinks and springs where the Aucilla River disappeared and reappeared from underground. I saw hog rooting along the Aucilla River, and 4 feral hogs in the Saint Marks Wildlife Refuge.
Camp: Pinhook Site, Saint Marks Wildlife Refuge
Sunday, February 20th, 2011
There were many turtles, gators, and birds of every sort. We finished our walk across the refuge, and hitched a boat ride across the river into the town of Saint Marks. There we found good food and drink.
Cabin: Shell Island Fish Camp
Monday, February 21st, 2011
I kayaked up the Wakula River to Wakula Springs State Park / 98. Massive springs boiled up water so clear you could see bits of gravel 15 feet down anywhere along the river. There were tens of thousands of turtles, and lots of birds.
Cabin: Shell Island Fish Camp
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
A nice day, but with many biting no-see-ums. I saw a weasel like animal, twice the size of a tree squirrel, with dark brown fur, bounding down the trail directly away from me. Also, I nearly stepped on a Water Moccasin.
Camp: Purify Bay
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
Chuck and April saw a Panther. The Bradwell Bay segment, famous for its hip deep water, was closed due to controlled burns that had been ongoing for weeks and were scheduled to continue for the forseeable future. We saw the smoke plumes and closure notices and skipped around it. It was sad to see Chuck off, but good to know he was heading for the Israeli National Trail.
Camp: Lake Porter Campsite with retired Orlando Firefighters
Thursday, February 24th, 2011
I saw 2 deer, Pitcher Plants, and Sundews. There was a still smoking burn to one side of the trail.
Camp: Appalachicola National Forest
Friday, February 25th, 2011
Wildlife: 4 deer, Pitcher Plants, and Sundews
Saturday, February 26th, 2011
Econfina is an Indian word meaning natural bridge. Apparently there used to be one just downstream. But there still were lots of nice man made bridges and scenery on Econfina Creek.
Camp: 7 miles short of State Highway 20
Sunday, February 27th, 2011
Wildlife: Pitcher Plants and Sundews
Camp: 7 Runs
Monday, February 28th, 2011
I saw a white tail doe and fawn, and a water moccasin. Abandoned in the forest were circular sprinklers, and a well head and cattle dip trough, reminders of an agricultural past. The streams were tasty and I saw a big turkey. I could hear big booms from Eglin.
Camp: Eglin AFB, Eglin Portal Site, with Wild Bill, a UPS Driver
Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
I saw Bushwhacker and 2 dayhikers.
Camp: Red Deer Site, Eglin AFB, a C130 with its ramp down buzzed the site several times.
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
Nice weather and walk.
Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
I resupplied and got several rides to skip long highway walks. I cringed a little when the last driver described to his girl the place he would drop me off: "You know, the place where all those water moccasins bit me." The old brick highway 90 section was nice.
Camp: Dean Creek Site, Eglin AFB
Friday, March 4th, 2011
High, gusty winds slammed me into bridge railings, sandblasted me, blew surf high onto the beach, and torqued me and my pack around. It was overcast and very bright on the white sand beaches of Santa Rosa Island.
Motel: Pensacola Beach
Saturday, March 5th, 2011
There was a little less wind, but lots of rain, as I finished my hike on the Florida Trail. I enjoyed all the old guns and bunkers, updated time and again from the early 1800s through World War II. The ranger at Fort Pickens wanted to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, so I discussed that with her for a while. Soon, a Yellowstone NP security guy who wanted to hike the Florida Trail came in and joined the conversation. Eventually, he gave me a ride to the bus terminal and even bought me lunch. Magic things happen on the trail. Thanks!!
The Aucilla River, which sinks under ground and then springs above ground later several times, was certainly a highlight. So was the Saint Mark's Wildlife Refuge, which has much wildlife, and miles of dikes and canals I'd like to return to and hike or paddle. I still like south Florida the most, with its very different animals and plants.
During my 2006 hike, I saw an incredible amount of wildlife - many snakes, gators, large birds, etcetera per day. On this trip, one such sighting a day was more typical. So I wondered, why so many last time or so few this time? Dieoffs due to cold snaps? Floods forcing animals near the trail in 2006? Something else?
In the panhandle, there were days when I removed many ticks, of at least one small and one large species. Only one tick remained attached long enough to leave a red welt on my skin. The swelling went down overnight, but some redness persisted for a couple of weeks.
For the first couple of weeks, I may have had a cold, flu, or similar sickness. Most days I was just tired, but a few days I was sick enough to feel bad and quit early. Perhaps this is another good reason to avoid long train trips.
I had a poison ivy rash on my right back and inside left elbow.
|Some Florida Trail Locations|
|January 10th||25.764311||-80.483642||Miccosukee Casino|
|25.857183||-81.033838||Oasis Visitor Center|
|25.964245||-80.986296||Ten Mile Camp|
|January 11th||26.084638||-81.036285||Oak Hill Camp|
|January 12th||26.126851||-81.058992||Ivy Camp Lunch|
|January 13th||26.236313||-81.050223||CCC Cabin|
|26.330620||-81.055499||Billie Swamp Safari|
|26.325116||-80.999157||Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum|
|26.432991||-80.973080||Deerfence Canal Camp|
|January 14th||26.660813||-80.918658||L1E Levee Camp|
|January 15th||26.697849||-80.808757||John Stretch Park|
|26.761125||-80.687393||Lake Okeechobee Camp 1|
|January 16th||27.028423||-80.636552||Lake Okeechobee Camp 2|
|January 17th||27.206933||-80.830508||Okeechobee Hotel|
|January 18th||27.152866||-80.867421||Okeetantie Trail Head|
|27.313266||-81.000024||Yates Marsh Camp|
|January 19th||27.371933||-81.064573||Basinger Camp|
|January 20th||27.516464||-81.217318||Mosquito Hammock Camp|
|January 21st||27.653808||-81.151595||Camp Island|
|January 22nd||27.752477||-81.186083||Long Hammock Campsite|
|January 23rd||27.907294||-81.154850||Dry Pond Camp|
|January 24th||28.246448||-81.298064||Saint Cloud Motel|
|January 25th||28.303992||-81.403162||Kissimmee Motel|
|January 26th||28.318804||-82.032651||Trail Ford Camp|
|January 27th||28.475671||-82.133514||Richloam Camp|
|January 28th||28.596837||-82.238469||Croom Camp|
|January 29th||28.824993||-82.318013||Inverness Hotel|
|January 30th||29.046212||-82.463774||Dunnellon Hotel|
|January 31st||29.058515||-82.157703||I75 Land Bridge Camp|
|February 1st||29.209042||-81.968027||Ocala NF Camp 1|
|February 2nd||29.341126||-81.846398||Ocala NF Camp 2|
|February 3rd||29.359572||-81.821129||88 Store & Camp|
|February 4th||29.500821||-81.820531||Rodman Reservoir Camp|
|February 5th||29.672871||-81.757243||Rice Creek Shelter|
|February 6th||29.762319||-81.827401||Iron Bridge Shelter Lunch|
|29.783391||-81.874064||Etonia State Forest Camp|
|February 7th||29.832150||-82.048646||Keystone Airport Camp|
|February 8th||30.037431||-82.356077||Lake Butler Forest Camp|
|February 9th||30.246623||-82.411381||Cobb Camp|
|February 10th||30.275243||-82.475697||Osceola Shelter|
|February 11th||30.322592||-82.666313||Madison Shelter|
|February 12th||30.327228||-82.792995||Suwanee River Camp|
|February 13th||30.370053||-82.886745||Camp Branch Sinkhole|
|30.326110||-82.966717||Live Oak Hotel|
|February 14th||30.443310||-83.076448||Holton Creek WMA|
|February 15th||30.346413||-83.212941||Suwannee River Black Unit|
|February 16th||30.329605||-83.481766||San Pedro Bay|
|February 17th||30.222650||-83.719286||Econfina River|
|February 18th||30.208786||-83.923058||Aucilla River Camp|
|February 19th||30.203845||-83.925075||First Aucilla Sink|
|30.128178||-84.021464||Saint Marks NWR Pinhook Camp|
|February 20th||30.159219||-84.216312||Shell Island Fish Camp|
|February 21st||30.175830||-84.244870||Wakula River Kayak Put In|
|30.213394||-84.261753||Wakula River Turnaround|
|February 22nd||30.077728||-84.368223||Purify Bay Camp|
|February 23rd||30.170182||-84.498457||Fire Closure|
|30.176688||-84.677229||Porter Lake Camp|
|February 24th||30.242579||-84.939770||Apalachicola NF Camp|
|February 25th||30.443691||-85.052660||Blountstown Motel|
|February 26th||30.539651||-85.455185||Two Penny Bridge|
|30.476255||-85.528385||Econfina Creek Camp|
|February 27th||30.454842||-85.564995||Rattlesnake Lake Beach|
|30.538603||-85.922195||Seven Runs Camp|
|February 28th||30.631883||-86.150630||Eglin Portal Camp|
|March 1st||30.724698||-86.347299||Red Deer Camp|
|March 2nd||30.719500||-86.570977||Crestview Motel|
|March 3rd||30.462244||-86.884960||Dean Creek Camp|
|March 4th||30.334792||-87.133803||Pensacola Beach Motel|
|March 5th||30.317155||-87.261417||Battery Langdon|