It’s really nice to be back on trails again.

Hurry up and Wait

The Post Office doesn’t open until 8:00 a.m. so I tried to sleep in as late as possible. But I went to bed with a slight headache that only got worse as the evening went on. At 4:00 a.m. I finally had to take it aspirin.

I know this headache wasn’t triggered by caffeine. I have been regulating my caffeine intake as closely as possible. But one thing I did do last night and I also did a few days ago which caused a slight headache is each sugar.

Last night I drank part of a drink that was basically just flavored sugar. I thought it was a fruit soda but it was a kid’s drink. I also ate a few sugar cookies which I had also eaten a few days ago when I got a headache.

When I finally got up at 7:00 a.m. both of those items went into the garbage can immediately. I still felt lousy but I walked over to the gas station to get some breakfast sandwiches and some milk. My head was hurting so badly that I didn’t want to eat but I knew I had to.

One of the things I needed to take care of today was to get a permit for Eglin Air Force Base. I didn’t realize until a few days ago after talking with Jack and Mickey that you have to watch a training video take a test and purchase a permit.

I did all that in about 20 minutes and had a PDF of my permit. I went to the front desk to see if they would let me email it to them and have them print it out for me. They agreed happily and so now I have a printed permit that is good for one year.

When 8:00 rolled around I headed over to the Post Office. I got there right as she was unlocking the window. I got my box quickly and headed back to the hotel to finish packing.

I have most of the food items I will need for the rest of the trip now. Towards the end of the trip I will be walking by stores and restaurants frequently so I won’t need much food for the end. Most of the food I will need to carry is for today and the next two days on Eglin Air Force Base.

The other chore was to get the repair tape from the box and reinforce the inflation valve on the air mattress. I had Karen send a giant piece just in case. So I will use giant pieces to reinforce the area around the valve. I really do think this is a very poor design on this mattress.

Start the Day with a Little Road Walking

I came into town on road walk and so I must leave town on a road walk. But the good news is, once I make it to the trail I think I will be on trails the rest of the day. Won’t that be wonderful.

Traffic is just insane this morning. Where are all these people going? The traffic is far worse than at any time yesterday.

Hello trail. It is good to see you again.

It is cool this morning, but not cold, so I am wearing my shorts and a short sleeve shirt. When it is this nice this early in the morning it usually means it’s going to get pretty hot.

Chocktawhatchee River

This section of trail is fairly new. It is 8 1/2 miles of trail that replaced 10 miles of road walking. Hallelujah.

There is a campsite at each end of this trail section. The campsites have metal benches and a fire ring. I used one of them to have lunch. The metal benches are nice because they are breezy and never covered in mold the way a wooden picnic bench can get.

The trail changes quite a bit throughout the day. Sometimes it is down near creeks or swamps and gifts a little bit muddy. There is a large cypress swamp that has a boardwalk that goes right through the middle of it. But most of the time it is high and dry in sandy areas with pine trees.

A really nice boardwalks across the swamp.

This new trail section is a great improvement over the road walk it replaced. Mainly because half of the road walk used to be on County Road 20 which is just an insane road walk. And the fact that the trail is shorter than the road walk is an extra bonus.

Lafayette Creek Wildlife Management Area

The Eastern side of Lafayette Creek where I entered is nothing but pine trees in sandy areas. But every mile or two it crosses a creek where the trail gets damp but not muddy.

It is nice being able to filter water whenever you need to instead of having to plan where to pick it up and how far you have to carry it. That is one of the biggest annoyances with roadwalks. You never want to filter water from the side of the road because it is always contaminated with wash off from the road.

I ended up filtering water twice today. They were both from small streams and were very cool and clear water. It was hot enough today that I needed lots of water too.

Dry pine trees

Time to Camp

I am trying to make a campsite called Steep Head which would be over 25 miles for the day. If I had left plenty early this would be no problem.

But because I had to wait for the Post Office to open and then still do some chores, I didn’t get out of town till nearly 9:00. So right off the bat I’ve lost 3 hours of hiking time.

As the day progresses It is evident that I’m going to be two or three miles short of the campsite by the time the sun goes down. I will aim to stealth camp at about 5:30. But at this time I will be right on the trail that goes along Lafayette Creek which is prone to flooding. We have had so much rain in the last few days that I’m worried that I may not be able to find a good campsite here by the creek.

There is a high water alternate that I decided to take instead because it is under power lines and should have plenty of flat clear ground to camp on.

I am almost back to the regular trail again when 5:30 hits. The sun has set and the light is beginning to fade quickly behind the clouds. I find a good spot on an abandoned road bed that has no weeds and just a sand and grass base.

This is where I will set up the night. When I check the map I am less than 2 miles from where I intended to be. I could have pushed to that campsite but it would have been at least 10 or 15 minutes after dark.

Entertainment for the day.

There is no point in pushing myself tonight. I will just get up early in the morning and see if I can still make my intended campsite tomorrow.

The usual chores ensue. Tent, cook, set up, eat, blog. It is only about 65° tonight which is pretty warm. The forecast says it’s going to stay 65° all night so I doubt I’ll even get in the sleeping bag.

I go ahead and check the closure report for Eglin Air Force Base for the next 3 days. It looks like the opening section I will start in is closed for the next 3 days. But based on comments I see from other people It looks like Florida Trail might have an exemption for those early sections. I will have to double check that tomorrow.

If the first section is closed then I will have to road walk around it. That road will add several miles but it will also add convenience stores and restaurants. So either way tomorrow will be interesting. It could either be no road walking or more than half road walking. Stay tuned tomorrow to find out.

Emotion of the Day

I think I will just pick simple happiness.

It was nice having a day that was almost entirely on trails instead of roads. It was very rarely even on forest roads, but it did cross a lot of them.

The fact that the trail was dry nearly the entire length was nice. It was also nice to have creeks for streams every mile or two.

The trails themselves were nice as well. When they were near the creeks they were thick and lush. When they were in the pines they were grassy if they were mature pines and sandy if they were freshly planted pines.

I am not the least bit sad that I did not make my intended campsite. I left so late in the morning that it would have been a miracle to be able to make it. The fact that I’m only 2 miles away is actually quite good.

Other than being a little warm, It was just a nice day on nice trails. And that makes me happy.