I have always heard that the trails on Eglin Air Force Base were nice. I would have to agree. If the entire trail were like this it would be an awesome thousand mile hike.
Last Night’s Rain is Late
One of the reasons for getting a hotel last night was because it was supposed to rain overnight and into the early morning. Camping in the rain is not bad. Setting up or taking down a tent in the rain is bad. That’s what I was trying to avoid.
I woke up at 4:00 and could hear that the rain was just starting. I got up at 5:00 and started packing but by then the rain had stopped. Checking the forecast it looks like the bulk of the rain is supposed to happen between 8:00 and 10:00 this morning.
I am not thrilled about this new timeline because I want to leave by 7:00. I’d rather not have an entire road walk in the rain again.
By the time I leave at 7:30 the rain is starting to pick up a little bit. I have about 3 hours of road walking to do this morning and I was hoping it wouldn’t be raining very hard.
The intensity picked up and waned on about 30 minutes cycles. I was wearing my shorts and short sleeve shirt because I didn’t want to get my long sleeve stuff soaking wet. The rain was coming from all different directions and it was hard to avoid it.
My shoes were soaked within an hour. My priority was keeping myself dry and not the pack. So it was pretty saturated within about an hour as well. My torso stayed dry, but the hems of my shorts were getting pretty wet.
I like the roads that Google had picked out for me. The first one leaving from the hotel had a moderate amount of traffic. But the next three roads had almost no traffic at all. And that was a good thing because there was no shoulder at all either.
The last mile of the road walk it was evident why the section I was walking around was closed. Every three or four minutes, you could hear and feel bombs exploding not too far away. There is no way I would want to live here. This is worse than living near an airport.
Entering Eglin East
It took almost a full 3 hours to get there but I finally managed to get to the trailhead. It was a bit anticlimactic. I am used to Cape Canaveral Air Force Base and it’s typical guard shack entry.
There’s no signs or anything other than a casual “Road might be subject to closure” out near the houses. Is this really a secure base? I guess maybe further in it gets more secure. After all, this is the outer edges open to recreation.
The terrain was very similar to what I hiked yesterday. There were streams every mile or two and they were nice clear streams. There were some pine trees but the majority of the trees were oaks. I guess this area is not actively logged.
The campsites are about the same as the others in the previous area. A few benches, a fire ring, maybe a kiosk, and a trail register. But that’s about it. Most of them did have oak trees for good cover from the dew.
I carried a liter and a half of water from the hotel. I knew there would be plenty of water sources and the morning was going to be raining so I wouldn’t be drinking much. The late morning the temperature dropped from 58 to 51 after the rain stopped. I wasn’t sweating at all.
I don’t think I would have wanted to try and filter water today anyway. There is a lot of clay in this area and the rain just stirs the clay up and puts it into the rivers. I could see that they were slightly cloudy as I passed each one. Clay in the water means your water filter is going to clog very quickly. I still need a functioning water filter for the next few days.
After noon, the sun tried to come out briefly. But by 1:00 p.m. the clouds were breaking and the temperature was rising. Now the weather was perfect for hiking.
My shoes were almost dry, so I stopped to switch into dry socks at about 2:00 p.m. to give my feet a break. The shoes are still wet but with dry socks they will dry out within about 30 minutes.
If the forecast for the rest of the week is correct, then I should have seen my last rain of this trip. Wednesday shows a small chance of rain, but it also still shows sunshine. I can live with that.
I also hit two milestones in the hike today. At some point in the afternoon I hit the 1,000 mile point on the trail. This is good news because it means there’s less than 110 miles left.
The other milestone was hitting the highest point on the Florida Trail. It is a whopping 247 ft above sea level. It is not the highest point in the state, just the highest point on this trail.
Since I only had 20 miles to go today I was taking a more leisurely pace with short but more frequent stops. Sometimes it just felt good to sit in the Sun for a few minutes and soak up some rays.
The coffee I had for today both in the morning and afternoon was coffee that I got from the hotel. I didn’t think it tasted too bad at the hotel but now that it was cold it really tasted bad. I think I need to stick to my Cafe Bustello and Trader Joe’s instant coffees. Unless I am toting out a Starbucks or a Dunkin Donuts.
I arrived at the hotel just before 4:00 p.m. just as I had estimated. The shoulder on the highway up to the hotel was nice and wide so it was an easy walk.
It was such a cold day I didn’t even bother jumping in the shower first. In fact I don’t even stink. My feet are just barely dirty.
The first order of business today is taking every single item out of the pack and make sure that it can dry. All the clothes in the dry bags are fine but the outside of the dry bags are wet and need to be dried.
The biggest pain of the butt after a rain is drying all my money. I bought a new wallet for this trip because it’s supposed to be waterproof. But it’s far from it and all my bills get stuck together and my credit cards as well.
I feel like a poker player laying out all my dollar bills next to each other in a row. Do you know how hard it is to separate a stack of wet bills? It can be quite challenging.
The water has also damaged my American Express. The back plastic is delaminating from the metal core. I can’t lose this part because it has the numbers on it and the magnetic stripe. It has everything but the chip on it.
By the time everything is straight about the room, it is just about time for dinner. My choice is either the Love’s truck stop next door with a McDonald’s and a Subway or across the street to go to a Waffle House.
It’s been so long since I’ve been to a Waffle House and I’m actually craving breakfast. So across the street I go. Waffle House is good, but it’s not great. Sometimes it’s more fun just to go and watch the people there.
Then it’s back to the room to shower and start blogging. It was getting really cold outside so I couldn’t wait just to get under the hot water. I’m really not very dirty considering I just hiked 20 miles.
The hotel breakfast doesn’t open until 7:00 in the morning, so it would be another slow start tomorrow. That is just fine, I only need to go 19 miles. It’s the day after tomorrow that I need to kick it up a notch.
Emotion of the Day
I’m not sure I can zero in on a single emotion.
The morning was unpleasant with the rain and the cold. Then the middle of the day was quite cold. Then the afternoon warmed up. And now I’m in a warm and dry hotel room.
But the whole day all I was thinking about was walking. I felt a bit like Forrest Gump. “I just felt like running.”
I had a good rhythm. I wasn’t rushed or hurried at all. I was just hiking. Even on the road walk in the rain, it still felt like hiking.
I guess the emotion would have to be ordinary.
Nothing stood out today. Rain is normal. Road walking is normal. Cold temperatures are normal. Walking in oak trees is normal. Crossing streams on little Bridges is normal. And apparently now hotels are normal.
Exploding bombs aren’t normal, but that was only about 30 minutes of the day.