Today was the first day the trails were clogged with day hikers. The people around Eglin must like to go hiking on the weekends. After all it is a nice place to hike.
I am in a hotel with dark window shades. I probably do need a bugle to wake up. I actually slept in until about 6:15. And it felt good to sleep so long.
I have 19 Trail miles plus 2 miles of road walking to do today. Breakfast starts at 7:00 and I would like to be out of here by 7:30. I sneak down a few minutes before 7:00 and breakfast is already being served so I go ahead and chow down. I grabbed a bagel and an apple for the road.
Today it may not be raining as I leave the hotel but it is very cold. It was 32° last night so I’m glad I didn’t have to sleep in it. My hotel room was toasty warm. But even with long sleeves and gloves it’s pretty chilly walking along the road this morning.
The road walk is a bit annoying because there is tons of traffic on it and no shoulder to speak of. Where are all these people going on a Saturday morning?
I received a text in the morning that Jack and Mickey had camped out near the highway that I’m walking on now to get back to the trail. I found out later that they ate dinner at the McDonald’s that was right next to my hotel. We were literally less than a tenth of a mile from each other last night.
But now this morning I assume that they are one or two miles ahead of me at this point. When I get on trail and can find areas that have sand I can see their footprints so I know they are indeed ahead of me.
Back on Trail
The trails here on the north side are just like the trails back on the east side. It is a mix of trees mostly pine and oaks. And there are creeks or streams every two miles or so.
I will be hitting two campsites today, so I will time first and second lunch to those campsites. The first one should be about 10:30 and the second one about 1:00.
A Short Rant on Bridge Construction
The bridges over the streams here are a bit over the top and overbuilt. But overbuilt is far better than underbuilt or collapsing. Most of the larger bridges have handrails. All of them have asphalt shingles on the treadway to prevent slipping.
Of all the methods I have seen on slick wooden boards, the shingles are the most effective. The plastic coated hardware cloth I will rate second. And the bare metal hardware cloth I will rate third. The ones that just have cuts a quarter inch deep or have no treatment are as slippery as ice if it is wet at all.
I prefer their style of bog logs here too. Some would call them puncheon boards. They use two very sturdy beams side by side with less than a one inch gap. I didn’t measure them but they look like 4 inches by 8 inches. With shingles on top they are deluxe.
Other regions used smaller boards like a 4×6 or a 4×4. Sometimes they were spaced 3 or 4 inches apart. When they are that far apart it is easy to actually get your foot stuck between them. If you were to slip it would probably snap your tibia and fibula right in half.
Some regions build boardwalks. The top surface is usually just decking boards or sometimes they are 2×8 s. They may have two supports under them or three supports. You can never really see them and you can never really tell how strong or how rotten they are.
And the decking boards themselves often get rotten and you can find some of them broken. I just don’t want to be the person that discovers the broken one. In my opinion if they’re more than six or seven years old they’re probably unsafe.
I saw many bridges that were held together only by the fasteners. Fasteners are meant to keep two surfaces together not to support shear loads of a bridge. One bridge had actually collapsed. If I had been the one on that bridge when it let go, I probably would have broken my back.
Okay, I am done with the rant now.
Getting into Crestview
I mentioned earlier that there were a lot of people on this trail today. Most of them did not want to speak other than to say hello.
But one gentleman was eager to talk. He was a local and had been hiking around these trails for decades. He had not hiked any other parts of the Florida Trail but knew that it was the length of the entire state. I let him know that he was spoiled having a good section to hike for so long.
He did also clue me in that Jack and Mickey were only 30 minutes ahead of me. But 30 minutes for people going in opposite directions is actually 60 minutes ahead. That means they were 3 mi ahead of me.
But shortly after talking to him I actually got a text from Mickey and found out that they were only two miles ahead of me. We are not staying at the same place in Crestview but we were going to make plans to have dinner together.
When the trail ended at the trailhead, there were seven or eight cars in the parking lot. This jives with the number of people I saw on the trail today.
The road walk into town was on a bigger road than I was expecting. It was a four-lane highway with lots of traffic. Luckily it is only three miles to the hotel. For some reason I was thinking it was more like five.
Only the first mile was empty road. The last two miles had businesses crowding either side of the road. Having things to look at does actually make the time go by faster.
One of the businesses was a convenience store that had a separate liquor store next to it. I have seen grocery stores with liquor stores next to them but never a convenience store with a liquor store next to them. I had to make a brief stop. You will find out more about that later.
It is still weird walking through a town this large and there are no sidewalks anywhere. It is amazing that the United States is so pedestrian and bicycle hostile. I guess this is one of the casualties of urban sprawl.
I got to the hotel just after 3:00 and heard from Mickey and Jack about 4:00. They did not realize their hostel was so far away from downtown so they were going to cancel dinner plans for tonight.
I already had my heart set on Thai food and had already checked out all the Thai restaurants in town. The two highly rated ones were not open tonight. But there were five or six others that were.
The closest one was a mile away. I don’t feel like doing bonus miles for dinner tonight. So tonight sounds like the perfect night to use Doordash for the first time.
One of the restaurants was hooked up with Doordash and online ordering. I ordered some Pad Thai and they said it would take 50 minutes to deliver. Sounds like a perfect time to take a shower.
The only problem is when I got out of the shower I could hear a knock on the door. They received my order cooked it and delivered it in 17 minutes. That’s faster than Domino’s. For one meal the $7 delivery fee is a little steep. But for a whole family I can see it being very economical.
The hotel breakfast starts at 6:00. I think I’ll try the same trick from today and go down 10 minutes early. If I can be on the road by 6:30 in the morning that would be fantastic. I have 28 miles to go tomorrow and I would love to be able to get there by 5:30. I think more than half of it is road walking so that should be achievable. I hope I sleep well again tonight.
Emotion of the Day
I think I will pick excitement for today.
The 32° starting temperature definitely had me walking briskly this morning. It was nice having a campsite to time for my two lunch stops. And it was nice having good trails and plenty of stream crossings without any worry of having to step in mud.
It was also nice knowing that I was close to Jack and Mickey again. I was excited to know that we were planning to meet for dinner even though it never happened.
Knowing that I am walking towards a hotel in a town with an endless list of restaurants and stores was also exciting. The south side of the town that I have walked through so far is not so great but I get to walk through downtown tomorrow. Most businesses will be closed on Sunday morning, though. There is a nice coffee shop downtown that would have been nice to stop at, so that is a bummer.
There wasn’t any major “one big thing” for today. It was just a combination of lots of little things that were nice and nothing that was a pain in the ass.
And it is exciting to have a good day on trail.