I am now on a new map section. And I will spend the next 3 days walking along the Suwannee River. This should be a fun few days as long as it does not get too hot.
It was another warm night last night but I knew not to layer up this time. I didn’t even get into the sleeping bag until nearly midnight.
Even though I woke up early and was camping 70 yards away from Chuckles, I did not get as early a start as I would have liked. I didn’t want to make a bunch of noise and wake him up too early.
I started packing at 7:00 and was heading out at 7:30. Chuckles was up and making coffee. Neither one of us is planning on going into town today but I am not sure if I will see him at all during the day.
The ground is damp with dew. And the area is a bit swampy and has quite a bit of sphagnum moss. My feet get a little wet, but nothing bad. There are bridges over the worst sections.
One thing that is annoying this morning is that there is more coyote crap than I have ever seen on a trail before. It’s not an uncommon sight, but these jokers are crapping every 10th of a mile right in the middle of the trail.
I tried to avoid all their gifts but eventually, find one that is hidden in the grass. I am accompanied by the smell of fresh dog crap for the next 20 minutes.
I am low on water, so I stop at the next campsite which is an equestrian camp with a flush toilet and running water. I might as well make use of both. I fill up my two main bottles but do not put water in my coffee bottle which will come to hunt me later.
Leaving Osceola National Forest
Nearly the entire forest is exactly the same. It is pine trees and palmettos and occasionally swamp and cypress. The trail is frequently on double-track roads but is also a single-track dedicated trail much of the time. The only thing to break the boredom is kicking pine cones.
I finally exit the forest at about 11:30. I decided to take a small break and eat a little bit because I have many miles of road walking ahead of me. I go ahead and mix some Gatorade in my drinking bottle and have just a splash in my main bottle. I hope this will be enough for the whole walk.
More Road Walking
The first mile-plus is a small paved road that is not too bad. There is a short section on the highway to get up to a different dirt road. This dirt road goes on for many miles.
It eventually turns down a small paved road which is a country road without much traffic. I think it was about a mile and a half long and I don’t even remember any cars passing on the entire length.
By now it is getting pretty hot and I am very thirsty. I am nearly out of Gatorade and I need to make sure that I can make coffee between two and three in the afternoon.
The road walk finally ends and turns into a trail that has a decent amount of shade. I have about 2 miles until the Suwannee River and the first availability of water, but it is already nearly 3:00.
There is a section of thick pines with a heavy layer of pine needles on the trail. There is a large amount of shade and a cool breeze so I decide to just pop down on the pine needs and rest. I have now finished all of my Gatorade and have only the tiny splash of water to make coffee with.
There is not even an ounce of water, but I go ahead and make coffee with it. The entire amount takes only two sips to complete and it is very strong. But oddly it is not any stronger than real espresso, so it is actually quite pleasant to drink.
After 10 minutes of laying in the pine needles in the breeze, the caffeine begins to hit my brain and I start to get some energy. I have only one mile to the river and all the water I can drink.
On the way to the river, I meet another hiker. We stand in chat for at least 15 minutes. But I am distracted because I only have water on my mind.
May I Have a Cup of Water, Please?
It is a quick ten minutes to the river. And the first point you come to the river is a canoe launch, so there is easy access to the Suwannee River.
I immediately fill my water bladder and begin filtering some water. Once two or three oz are filtered I switch bottles and drink the two or three oz. I do this three or four times until I feel I have drank enough water for now.
The next order of business is to take off my shoes and socks and go wading in the water. I grabbed my bandana and soak various parts of my body. I start with the head and the neck and cold water feels great. Next the arms and the legs. Last is the feet.
I was originally planning on going swimming, but the water is really cold. I think it would be quite painful to try and swim in this. But washing myself with a bandana is very refreshing.
I fill up both of my bottles and dry my feet off to put my shoes back on. Just this twenty minutes up by the river has made me feel like a new person. With the recent consumption of coffee, I should be good to go for three more hours. The campsite I’m planning to stop at is about an hour and a half away.
Walking Along the Suwannee
The area where we enter the Suwannee is called Big Shoals. It is called this because there are some substantial rapids in the river here. I have been here before, but on the other side of the river.
The river varies from bluffs that are 40 ft above the water to white sandy beaches right at the water. It is a bigger version of the Little Big Econ State Park.
There is a wide variety of vegetation on the bluffs. It is a mix of pine, palmettos, scrub oak, cypress, and all sorts of small bushes. They seem to be all just growing together in one big giant mess.
When I finally get to the area I was planning on camping at, I can see that it has road access and is very heavily visited with lots of trash. I don’t think I will be camping here.
I keep moving along the river but the palmettos ruin any chance of having a nice campsite. Every time I think I see a clearing away from the trail I find out that it is actually a mountain bike trail. I doubt there will be any mountain bikers overnight but I still don’t want to camp in the middle of a trail.
I finally find a large flat area near Little Shoals. It is nearly 6:00, so I need to stop soon because the tent is still wet. I have less than 30 minutes of daylight left and I also don’t want to get too close to town since the post office won’t open until 8:00 in the morning. This site checks all the boxes, so I stop.
I still have plenty of water, but I have an entire river next to me if I need more. But of the few miles I have hiked along the Suwannee already, it is evident that the best water is going to be the small streams that flow into it. Most of these streams look quite clear.
Pick one Emotion
I think I would pick thirst today.
I was only actually thirsty for about an hour today. But it was quite hot and when you are getting thirsty, it is a very unpleasant experience.
It is a strong enough feeling that it overpowers all of the boredom of the morning walk out of the National Forest.
It also dulls the excitement of reaching the Suwannee River at last.
If you have ever been truly thirsty, you should remember what a strong feeling it is. Since dehydration is one of the quickest ways to die, I guess the body has been wired very strongly to pay attention to this trigger.
I was never in any danger, but I really, really wanted to make coffee. I would have rather had it in the normal 8 oz quantity, rather than the 1 oz triple shot variety.
But I got my coffee and I got my water, so all is well.
The next three days of hiking along the Suwannee should be fantastic. Is fantastic an emotion? Find out tomorrow.