Man was it cold last night. The forecast said 32 and the hard frost on the ground agreed if not a little colder.
Night Time Visitors
I always bring ear plugs with me when I’m hiking to drown out the noises of the animals around me. But last night they came out extra early.
I think I was visited by a few deer but I’m not exactly sure because I could never see them. They came out right as I was getting ready to go to sleep. I tried shining my light in their direction, but I couldn’t see them even on the highest setting.
I had all the same layers on last night and was warm through most of the night. A few times when I would roll over I would untuck something that would then get chilly so I would have to adjust.
I started my morning routine at 5:45 and yet I still only got out at 7:20. This morning was oatmeal by OnTrek meals. You can’t screw up oatmeal right?
Well I won’t say it was screwed up, but it wasn’t very good. I don’t like really sweet oatmeal but this could have used some sort of sweetener.
It was basically oatmeal, nuts, and cinnamon and that’s about it. They wanted me to cook it in the pot but I just put the boiling water in the bag and prayed that it would cook enough to eat. Luckily it did.
This used to be an eco tourism attraction but I think they closed around the time of Covid. Who knows if they will ever open up again. They do have one campsite that they will let you stay at if you call ahead for permission, but I knew I wasn’t going to make it that far last night.
The trail through the park is mostly double track road, but there are a few cut sections of single track trail. A lot of the habitat is Osceola Savannah which is palmetto’s and pine with some grasses.
There are a few Cypress domes around, so the trail or road did get muddy at times. I had to stop and wade without shoes once and then step through mud another time with my shoes and got them a little bit wet.
Bull Creek Wildlife Management Area
This is your typical wildlife management area set aside mostly for hunters. It is also a lot of Osceola Savannah with a few cypress domes.
But the main part of this trail is another flood plane. There is a high water alternate that goes around and follows roads. It leads right up to the hunt check station that has water. Because I’m still trying to avoid water, I decided to take the alternate route.
I still had to wade one time and also got my shoes wet another time so the high water route isn’t completely dry. But I’m sure it was better than the regular trail.
There are different levels of purist in the hiking community.
The absolute purest must see every colored blaze, no matter what the trail conditions and sometimes even if they are closed.
There are others that are basically out to get a taste and will skip sections or hitchhike or just completely bypass whatever they don’t want to deal with. I don’t really know what these people are called but I have seen them plenty on the Appalachian Trail and some on the PCT.
And somewhere in the middle is where I am. Whether I am on the orange blaze trail or the white blazed alternates, I do not care. And in the case of this season I have pretty much decided I will take every high water alternate that I find unless I know for sure the regular trail is not underwater.
For my level of purism, I just wank an unbroken footpath from the terminus in the Everglades to the terminus in Pensacola. I won’t hitchhike to skip Road walks, but I am not going to see every single orange blaze either.
The Afternoon is Warming Up
It was below freezing last night, and in the afternoon the temperature is quite pleasant. The weatherman says it is 52°.
The sun is out and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. It is not nearly as windy as yesterday was so it feels like an entirely different planet.
I stopped for lunch at the hunt station that was on the high water alternate. Black bean burrito yum. I think I may have had one of the last black bean burritos I could possibly eat. The refried beans are just not appetizing when you’re tired.
A couple was there looking for the trail I had just come off and asked how to get to it. I gave them directions and then they offered me a tangerine and some seaweed snacks which I eagerly accepted. I also made coffee for this afternoon and filled up my water. It’s pretty sulfury water but it’ll do.
I’m feeling kind of tired this afternoon. It might be a combination of the cold temperatures and not eating as much as I should have the day before.
I stopped by a bench on the trail and decide to check the map. To my surprise, I am only two miles from the campsite and it is only 1:00. I should be able to make the campsite by 2:00.
About a half a mile from the campsite, the trail starts getting really wet and muddy. The trail is following a double track road. The road has just worn ruts in the mud.
I can see people have been making trails off to the side in the woods, so I start to explore those. It looks like this stretch will be very long, so I’m hoping these trails will prove they’re worth.
The muddy conditions go on for about 2/10 of a mile. Luckily, I was able to use side trails to get around all of the water. Dry shoes yay.
Home Sweet Home
Because the trail is so muddy so close to the campsite, I’m starting to get nervous about the condition of the ground there. But just before I reach the campsite, the ground rises quite a bit and it’s dry sand and pines. There’s tons of wide open space in the pump is working well so this is my home for the evening.
There is only one mile between this camp and the beginning of the road walk. If this campsite had not been suitable, I would have had to have found a place in the next mile to stealth camp.
The first order of business is setting up the tent and unloading all the crap out of the pack. The second order of business is taking shoes and socks off and letting everything air out. There is nice grass at the campsite so I am able to walk around barefoot without any problems. This is where having camp shoes like flip-flops would really be nice.
The water pump is in good working order so I fill every jug I have after dumping out what sulfur water I have remaining. I eat one tiny snack but I’m not really hungry, so I’ll wait as long as I can before I actually make dinner. If I time it right I won’t have to eat two dinners tonight.
Since I got here at 2:00 and it is a Sunday, there has been quite a bit of traffic of day hikers going by the campsite. But I have yet to see any other Florida Trail hikers other than Max.
I am pretty certain he is behind me. But he has the same situation as me that this is the best camp to start the road walk from. There is a good chance I will see him roll in tonight.