I could use a little less mud and water.
I Feel Like I Have the Park All to Myself
Even though I am camping near someone else, the park is remote. I pack up and leave before Max is even stirring.
The ground is very wet so I am wearing my water shoes. My feet felt pretty good when I woke up, but they don’t feel great walking in the water shoes. The ground is uneven because it has been torn up by wild hogs. The uneven ground twists my feet in odd positions that are uncomfortable.
I have six or seven miles to the park headquarters. And the only thing I can see for miles is grass and palmettos. The tree line has to be at least three miles away.
When I am only two miles from the campground, I passed by a walker coming the other way with the dog. I decide it is a good time to switch to the dry shoes. I am walking on a road in the grass is not very thick at all even though it is still slightly wet.
Get Cleaned Up
As soon as I am within eyesight of the campground, I start scouting out the buildings. The first one I spot is the bathroom complex.
As I am headed that way, the campground host tells me where the office is and also tells me that the back left shower has the best water pressure. That is where I must go.
Best or not, the water pressure was fine. And the temperature was just perfect.
It took at least 30 minutes to get everything clean. I washed a pair of socks and a pair of underwear in the shower because they don’t have a laundry facility. These two items were in desperate need of cleaning.
I put on a clean set of clothes and I feel like a million dollars. It seems like forever that I have not felt slimy and dirty. I wonder how long is feeling will last.
I sat outside the shower room to eat first lunch as it was now about 11:00. After I finished eating, I took inventory of the food I had remaining to get me to the River Ranch Resort. It looks like I packed exactly the right amount. It is very rare that I show up to a spot without having too much food left over. I rate myself five out of five stars.
I make my way to the campground office to pay my camping fee for the previous night and the entrance fee to the park. A $2 entrance fee and $5.50 to camp.
When I go to pay my fee, I find out that the camping fee includes the entrance fee so it is only $5.50. Score!
While I am in the office, I also glance at the photos they have of birds and plants. I’ve seen a million birds on this trip that I have not been able to identify. One of them is tan and brown with a very dark flat top haircut and a prominent yellow beak.
I spot a huge painting of him and another photograph that identifies and as a Caracara. What a really cool looking bird. Too bad I don’t have the equipment to get a really good photograph of one. I’ve been seeing them ever since the sugarcane fields.
Time to Head Out
I still have 14 miles to get to the campsite I am planning on staying at tonight. And only a half a mile from the headquarters, I can see a water crossing. There is no way around this one, so let’s pull the shoes off and walk across barefoot.
This crossing is very wide and very deep. It is at least 150 yards long. And I find that about 2/3 across it is also very deep. The water here is even deeper than in the Everglades and gets my pants wet. But I make it across in one piece, just a little wetter than planned.
It turns out that for the next ten miles this scenario is going to repeat itself every half mile. I am really losing time having to stop and take my shoes off.
For short periods I put on the water shoes knowing that another one will come up soon. But the water shoes are wearing my feet out. They’re definitely not as comfortable as the dry shoes are.
When I am only about three miles from my campsite and it is well after 5: 00, I come across a bicyclist heading towards me. He is from Quebec and his English is not great. Is hard to communicate with him but I understand the trail ahead is very bumpy and there is more water. Yay water.
Sure enough, there are several more water areas that I have to wade through. About half of the water areas had a trail where you could bypass it. But the other half you had no choice but to go straight through.
Crossing the Kissimmee River
Once I make it out to the dirt road, I know there is no more water for many miles. About a half a mile away is another lock across the Kissimmee River. This one we get to walk across.
It is less than 30 minutes to sunset and the view of the lake is quite nice. But walking straight into the sun makes it hard to see things.
I finally make it to the campsite and there are many vehicles camped here. I thought there was a pitcher pump here, but when I check the information I find that the river is the water source.
As I begin collecting water from the river, one of the campers comes out and offers me a bottle of water. He is interested in my water filtration system. As we are talking, another camper comes up with a Great Dane. This dog is huge and is still a puppy, so he is very playful.
I leave them talking to go set up camp, which I make under the cover of a tree. I get things set up quickly and then grab my food to go borrow the picnic table of the camper who offered me the water.
We begin talking again as I am cooking dinner, and the other camper comes back with a different Great Dane this time. The first camper is from Cincinnati and escaping the snow.
The second camper is from the space coast and worked at the space Center for 33 years. I worked there for a 5-year period that overlapped his 33 years so we have a lot in common and chat about it a bit.
After dinner, I went back to my tent and set up my bed quickly. It is actually pretty chilly. It’s supposed to get down to 42° tonight. I may have to wear extra layers.
I also start researching the resort that I will go to tomorrow. Seeing that I now have blisters on my other foot, I decide I will try and book two nights and take a day off.
I need some time to recover before I push again. But I will say that between yesterday and today, I am starting to feel like I am properly conditioned for hiking again. It’s only my feet that don’t agree.
So for tomorrow I only have nine miles to the resort. Check-in time is not until 4:00 p.m. and seeing that it’s going to be cold tonight, I will probably sleep in a little bit tomorrow. But the swimming pool and hot tub at the resort are definitely calling my name.
Emotion of the Day
Refreshed is the best word I can think of for today.
Just having that shower and clean clothes on made me feel like a completely new person.
I ended up putting dirty clothes on to actually hike after I left the office. But even with dirty clothes on I still felt refreshed for many hours.
A shower is powerful medicine.