This morning I woke up at 6am and felt a little uncomfortable from having a few drinks lastnight. Also someone was shooting guns at who-knows-what until about 2am in the near by woods. I wasn’t worried about the shooting fest, but I did have a hard time sleeping through it.
As it was close enough to my planned wake up time, I walked back to 88 store to fill my water bottles from the shower head and to collect my food bag I had stashed in the shower stall instead of hanging it from a tree. I was moving slow and trying to get my feet and legs used to the idea of moving me around, and I didn’t get fed, packed and moving until 7:20am.
Today’s plan was to hike to the Buckman lock and camp just shy of their gate. Their hours are from 6:30 – 3:00 and I knew the 20 mile hike would take me until about 5pm today, but I want to cross early tomorrow morning. The first five miles were a struggle to get through with my fully resupplied pack and I was also a bit dehydrated from the moonshine lastnight, but once I got rehydrated and fully woken up, the miles went smoothly.
I met a few folks out on the trail today doing section hikes on the long weekend. There was a father/daughter/boyfriend trio that I saw a lot of as we passed each other while the other would take a break. I met Dave, a 60 year old man who was doing a “pack shake down” hike for his upcoming AT hike this year, and I met “N.M. (no name)” who is a weekend hiker. I saw him sitting on the trail with his shoes off wrapping his blistered feet with tape while having a smoke. I sat down with him and ended up charging his phone a bit for him and I got his ‘guthook map app’ to show his location. I walked with N.M. for about a mile while we talked about our gear, what we liked and disliked about certain items and what the best shoes are for here before he finally had to slow down again and let me step out the miles at my own pace.
My lunch spot was the Rodman Damn, which was a beautiful sight to see as I emerged from the woods. I didn’t expect to see such a large lake based off the map, and it took me by surprise. I love it when that happens and I stood there admiring what was before me for a moment. I finished the short walk to the picnic tables where I ate 8 packs of oatmeal while my ramen was cooking. I don’t know why I ate that many, but I don’t regret it :). While washing my pot in the damn’s outflow, I talked to a curious fishman that couldn’t believe folks actually hike long distances for fun. He was a cool guy who knew how to catch fish (based on the flopping fish on the bank around him) and wanted to know about this hiking thing. We talked for a few minutes, then parted ways.
After packing up lunch, I hiked the final few miles of the day along the banks of the “cross Florida barge canal”; the remnants of a plan in the early 1900’s to cut a canal across the middle of Florida to allow cargo ships to go from the Atlantic ocean to the Gulf of Mexico without sailing all the way around the state. The Government gave the project to the State of Florida unfinished, and the State never completed it either, but it does make for a nice trail 🙂
When I got to Saint John’s south campground, I saw the hiking trio there getting trail magic from a nice lady, and they waved me over. The trio was about to get a ride from the ladies husband back to their car, and we all sat around eating the Oreo cookies and drinking the cokes the lady brought to us. As the gentleman loaded the trio into his car, he said he’d have a cold beer for me when he got back, and so I set off to get my camp up and ready for the possible rain.
It wasn’t long after that the gentleman returned that I walked over to introduce myself. I learned that the nice folks are named Chris and Liz and they travel with their dog named Pickles. They are newly retired and jumped at their new freedom to start traveling the country and get an immediate start on enjoying the retired life. They are some of the nicest folks I’ve met and they had a lot of stories about their travels, their experience section hiking the Florida Trail and hiking stories from their son’s adventures while through hiking the AT and PCT. Chris and Liz invited me to stay for dinner, and although I had a pretty big lunch, I can’t deny ‘real’ food :). While Liz was making up a meal of sausage, ribs, pork chops, rice and carrots (yes, all of that!), Chris told me about his web page http://www.pipestravelers.com (a page about their ongoing traveling adventures) and I shared my blog with them. When Liz brought out the food, they both kept my plate full until I couldn’t eat another bite (a hard thing to do with me) and after they were satisfied that I couldn’t eat anymore, we said our goodbyes and I headed back to hammock to let my belly start the digestion process of all the needed protine and calories. It really is amazing that such nice folks are in this world, and I’m thankful that I got to meet them today.
The Rodman reservoir and what I saw as I came out of the woods today
an oasis in the pine forest
The Buckman Lock, part of the unfinished shipping canal across the state of Florida
A full Florida Trail Map, I’m almost half way through!