Last night really showed the wide temperature swing that the Florida Trail provides. It stayed pretty windy and the temperatures were in the low 40’s by nightfall. I don’t know what the wind chill was, but my face was pretty cold when I woke up to pee :). I did however sleep really warm last night, but only because of something I forgot to mention from day two; As I was hiking by Oak hill campsite, I found a tarp laid out in the mud that looked pretty fresh. No leaves, dirt, sticks or any sign that it had been there for more than a few days. I thought how sad that someone would leave their trash out there like that, but I couldn’t find a place to put my bag down to pack it out (too muddy) and had to leave it there. Not long after that, maybe about 1/2 a mile past the tarp, I saw a bag on the ground. I had since set my pack down at Oak hill camp to fetch water from the black Lagoon so I stopped to open it up and have a look at it’s contents. I found inside it a muddy pair of shoes wrapped in plastic bags and to my surprise, a brand new REI duck down sleeping bag. I hollered out to the swamp a few times to see if the person that dropped their gear was nearby, but I got no response. After I filtered my water from the black Lagoon I hollered out again with no response. Knowing that there wasn’t any way to move around in the swamp besides on the trail, and also that my voice was carrying far into the swamp lands, I decided that the owner was either way ahead of me or was dropping gear/weight on purpose. I added the sleeping bag to my pack to replace my 50 degree cotton filled bag (which was old and better suited to be labeled as a sheet with a zipper then as a sleeping bag) and threw it in the trash when I got to the I-75 rest stop. Anyway, this new sleeping bag proved to be a Godsend Last night while it was keeping me warm and toasty in the near freezing temps.
Although I slept well, unfortunately this morning my feet are still not well enough to try to hike. I feel like the lasting damage of trying to press on today would set me back more than just taking the day off, and at 10 bucks a night it doesn’t break the bank at all. In fact, when I went to the office to pay for tonight the lady asked me if I had been to the clubhouse for breakfast yet and if not that I should hurry over there since they were about to pack it up. When I walked into the clubhouse, sure enough it was all being cleaned and put away but I saw some pancakes still out. I asked if I was to late to get some grub and a nice lady asked “how hungry are you” I told her that I could eat all of it (half joking) and instead of a plate she laid out some aluminum foil and filled it with potatoes, eggs, sausages and pancakes then handed me about three pounds of food (for free)! That was just the meal I’ve been craving for and totally offset the 10 bucks I just spent to stay another night.
The rest of my zero day has been what I expected it to be. I took a shower and washed my clothes then stayed off my feet as much as possible. The shower was awesome and it was great to get the swamp smell off of me and to get the knots out of my hair and beard. I washed my clothes in the shower too and ran clean water through my swamp shoes. At the campsite I was able to fashion a clothes line out of the cord for my bear bag and everything seems like it will be dry by morning, except for the dew moisture that is inevitable to come.
Something interesting did happen though, the lady that gave me the two apples and a mango last night came over with some herbal tea and a long conversation about freeing ones mind to find themselves, energy-efficient homes, natural medicine, how the body doesn’t need water and calories to function other than fruit alone and all sorts of creative ways of thinking. She is here camping to do a cleanse and plans on staying here for however long it takes. It sounds far from what western society wants us to believe but for 60 years old she looked like a healthy lady in her 40’s. There must be something to what she had to say but it was so much information coming from this ball of energy that I could only capture the highlights. I told her she would have to write some of it down (kinda joking) and she left and did just that. When she came back with the full page of notes she told me to come over in the morning and she would have a tincture on the table for me to take before I start hiking. “Sure thing” I said, if I could have half the energy that she has, I’ll make tomorrow’s camp in no time.
It’s been a really cool experience I’ve had so far on the Florida trail. From the nature and wildlife to the people, each person will experience the trail as an individual and special journey. I think the same would be true even if two folks were hiking the trail together, that the experience would be an “unique to each” adventure… Well, time to get some shut eye to see what tomorrow brings.
My spot on big cypress campground