Last night was the opposite of the night before. Instead of freezing cold, it was smoking hot.
I expected last night to be cold, so I layered up when I went to bed. But as the night went on it never got cooler. I was stripping off layers all through the night.
I am going to be meeting Brook and Alyssa today at the Olustee trailhead. I also want to get as close to White Springs as I can. So today is a good day to start early.
I wake up at 4:30, but I’m not ready to start quite that early. I listen to music until 5:30 and then I begin my routine. I am able to get out at 6:45, but because the sky is overcast, I need to use my headlamp.
It rained lightly several times during the evening. And it is raining on and off while I’m listening to music and getting ready. But lucky for me, the rain has pretty much stopped by the time I get outside the tent to pack it up.
I have been practicing packing the pack fully except for the tent and my rain jacket for situations exactly like this. Once the pack is ready, it should only take 5 minutes to take the tent down and get it packed up.
The morning wasn’t hot, but I definitely wouldn’t call it cold either. It was comfortable hiking weather other than the humidity. And it continued to sprinkle on and off for the first few hours. It never rained hard enough to get out the rain gear.
Most of the morning was hiking on forest roads. The GPS tracks and blazes seemed to indicate there was an actual trail just off the roadway. But every time I looked for an actual trail, it never materialized. So after a while, I just kept on the roads and stopped even looking for a trail.
Osceola National Forest
At some point in the morning, one of the roads I crossed signaled the entry into the Osceola National Forest. The forest didn’t look any different, only the color of the road signs was different. It is nothing but pines and palmettos here with the occasional swamp filled with cypress.
The plan to meet Brook and Alyssa was for them to park at the Olustee battlefield. I would be hiking East toward the battlefield so they would start out hiking West.
It worked out perfectly and we met about half a mile from the parking area. We went back to the parking area and ate lunch at a picnic table. They brought me some oranges and other goodies.
After lunch, we walked North together continuing on the trail. They got to see some of the swampier areas and walk some of the boardwalks. We said our goodbyes and they turned around to go back to their truck to head home.
The rest of the afternoon was more pines and palmettos. That literally is all that is out here unless it is a swamp. I never realized that the Osceola National Forest and the Okefenokee swamp actually meet borders at the Florida-Georgia line. The Osceola National Forest is just the continuation of the Okefenokee swamp in Florida.
Wading Through Water
Since the palmettos were very dense, I did not have high hopes for finding a random campsite. There is an official shelter and campsite that I should reach at about 5:30. This will be my destination for the day.
About 2 miles before I get there, I come to a pretty long water crossing. I have been lucky all day in that I have been able to walk around all of the water I encountered so far. But this is far more water than I’ve encountered today.
Since my feet are filthy and have not been washed in a few days, I decided it is best to just take my shoes off and walk through the water. I am also out of drinking water and instead of taking a half-mile detour to a nearby campground, I decided that the swamp here is an excellent source of water.
To my surprise, when I am halfway through the water I noticed that there is a bridge in the middle of it. But the water is so deep that the bridge is completely submerged under water. I guess it’s a high-water year here.
While my water is filtering, I sit down to dry and clean my feet and put my shoes back on. I go ahead and fill up with two and a half liters just in case it is hot in the morning.
It takes about an hour to get to the campsite and shelter. When I get there I am happy to see that Chuckles has just recently gotten there and already set up his gear.
It looks like there are mosquitoes in this area, and with a malfunctioning air mattress, I decided it was best to camp in my tent instead of staying in the shelter. I go ahead and set up my tent and then bring my food and stove back to the shelter to cook dinner with Chuckles.
We have a nice chat for about an hour before everything is done and the Sun is gone.
Back in the tent, I can tell that it is going to be another night of humidity and heat. Joy. Surprisingly, there are almost no mosquitoes. This is surprising since there’s a nearly stagnant Creek right next to the shelter.
Emotion of the Day
The emotion for today should deal with seeing Brook and Allyssa, or reuniting with Chuckles. Or maybe with a rainy evening or a rainy morning. But it doesn’t.
All I seem to be fixated on today is the fact that the blazes and the map indicate there should be a trail along the side of the roads. And the blazing was just bizarre beyond belief.
Assuming that the trail actually was the forest road, the blazing was sometimes 30 ft off of the road on the border marker trees.
And when the road made a turn to the left or the right, there would be double blazes on trees several hundred yards before the turn. Normally the double blazes are right at the turn. When you are traveling at 3 mph you don’t need a lot of advance notice. I am not driving in a car.
It was actually very confusing. There were no intersecting roads or other trails, like you were going to get lost anyway.
It was not like yesterday evening when I was actually getting angry and frustrated. I was just in shock and disbelief at some of the blazes I was seeing.
So I guess the emotion for today is disbelief. Or maybe confusion. I’m not sure which word captures it best.