Getting a new pair of shoes from Karen yesterday it’s made all the difference in the world in the comfort of my feet. All this time I have been walking in shoes that were a half size too small. These feel like I’m walking on pillows.

Gearing up Again

One of the main functions of meeting Karen in Orlando was to be able to switch out some gear. I had sent her two emails with a list of gear that I needed her to bring.

Some of the gear was different pants to hike in. The white pants that I chose for this trip are just not appropriate for hiking. Even after washing they are still filthy. They’re also a little on the thick side and retain a lot of moisture.

I had her bring just about every pair of socks I have too. I am still sticking with five pair, which is way too many for a trip like this. But I’m still unsure as to the health of my feet so in this case more options is definitely better.

I now have a full supply of tent stakes with a spare. Along with some new parts from Gossamer Gear to repair the broken sternum of strap. And I will need to use the sewing machine for a total of about 10 seconds.

The town of Paisley is just a little over a day away and has a Dollar General for resupply. But it’s less than 3 days past that to my next resupply box. So I picked up just a few things at Publix to push me beyond Paisley all the way to my box.

To my delight, even with a little extra food the pack is lighter because of the things I have been able to get rid of. A 2-lb drone being the main difference. But there is probably at least a pound and a half additional that I have been able to shed. There’s probably a pound alone in the freaky heavy flip flops I got a few days ago.

Time to Get Hiking Again

The trail resumes right outside the front of the hotel. It is still on a trail that is a sidewalk on the side of a road. But throughout the next six miles it does become a dedicated trail in the woods for portions of that length.

An actual shelter on the Florida Trail.

They have built an entirely new bridge over the Wekiva River that now includes a dedicated pedestrian and bicycle bridge. It really is far nicer than it was 10 years ago when I was here.

The morning is cool, but not cold, and the miles just tick away. Before long I am at the edge of the woods again.

Seminole State Forest

For nearly the entire rest of the day I will be in the Seminole State Forest or Seminole Wildlife Management area. The State Forest requires a day use fee of $3. I am expecting to see an iron ranger but all they have is a QR code and a link to their website. You have to pay your fees online.

The QR code will not work on my phone, so I go to the website they have listed. The website is geared towards reserving campsites which I am not doing. The sign said I could pay the day use fee at this website but I can’t figure out how to do it. Oh well, they miss out on their $3. What the heck is wrong with an iron ranger?

This is an active hunt weekend and they have signs posted all over the place. I am wearing my orange hat and red shirt so I feel safe. In fact it is over 3 hours before I see the first hunter. And I never saw anymore after those that I saw.

The narrowest trail corridor I have ever seen.

It is a real mix of habitats today. There’s some palmetto and pine. There’s some scrub oak. There’s some swampy cabbage palm areas. All of the wet trails have boardwalks over them except for one near the end of the day. I was actually eager to take my shoes off and walk through it just to cool off and wash my feet.

I like this section with Karen about 10 years ago. I remember many aspects of the hike. One of which was a very unpleasant road walk on State Road 46. I am delighted to find that most of that walk has been eliminated.

There is also another section that I remember when you skirt around some houses in a neighborhood. I remember the house and I remember the trail.

But this time the trail is very different. It looks like the home owner has had fun decorating the trail. He has built small tunnels that look kind of like Chickees. He has chairs and all sorts of first aid supplies inside one of the tunnels. It almost seems like a kids fort.

Enter at your own risk.
It is like a little fort inside.

As I am leaving the tunnels after taking many pictures, I run into the homeowner decorating the fence further down. We spoke for about 20 minutes and I learned that he is the one responsible for the reroute off of the highway. Good for him, he is now my hero. He offers me food or water but I don’t need anything since I have just left Orlando this morning.

This is another person that you kind of want to just sit here and talk to him for hours. But I need to make sure I make it out of the State Forest before night fall so that I don’t violate the day use policy.

Not long after leaving him behind, it begins to rain slowly. It rains just enough that I need to use my umbrella and my feet get slightly wet. It rains on and off for the rest of the night.

I anticipate getting to the Boy Scout camp right at 6:00 p.m. when daylight is disappearing fast. The plan is to enter the Boy Scout camp and then find a random place to pitch the tent for the night.

I do end up finding a place within the first half mile in the camp. The rain has let up, so it is perfect time to set up the tent. Once it is set up everything goes inside including me. I can cook dinner from the vestibule of the tent.

The perfect time to find a campsite.

For now the vestibule flaps stay open, but after I am done cooking the flaps will get buttoned down. The forecast shows a decent chance of rain all night long. It will be my first night of rain on the trip so far.

Emotion of the Day

Relief is the first word that comes to mind.

When I tried on the pair of shoes that I had Karen bring that I planned on hiking in, they were a little small in the toe box. I could feel my big toes pressing against the toe box. This usually means that you’re going to have very sore toenails and probably bruise them. If they were a half-size larger they would have been perfect.

But the extra pair I had her bring fit like a glove. They are very good hiking shoes, but they are orange and blue and I love using them as city shoes. Since I have just over 700 mi to go this should be the last pair of shoes that I need for the trip.

I am just relieved that I should now have comfortable shoes for the remainder of the trip. And I am relieved that I can tell a difference in the weight that I took out of the pack. If I can moderate the food that I carry as well as the water that I carry, the rest of the trip should be more enjoyable.

And that is a major relief.