As I woke up, it was another cold morning with heavy dew set across the land. Grey Beard had set off all bundled up and ready to take on the world, while Mickey and I set off to move the van up trail. The plan was to take the van to a road crossing 15 miles away and start hiking south. On the map, it looked pretty easy. Simply take a named road to another named road then a short jaunt down an unnamed road to the trail crossing. Google maps even showed it being 31 minutes, so it must be possible. Well, the first named road was a narrow sand road that led us down a few long miles then past a dozen signs that were put up to warn outsiders of the shotgun wielding madman that lurks up ahead. We ignored the warning signs (since it was a named road) and the map looks like it leads to the other named road… only it didn’t. It led to a gated property with a run down trailer just beyond it (and probably a shotgun wielding madman). So we quickly turned around and back tracked to another sand road that looked like it would connect to where we needed to go, and that road just might do that, but there wasn’t a tree laying across it. Back tracking again we found a third road that looked promising. The sand was soft and the road was narrow but we were making forward progress for a few good miles. Things were slow but moving, until we got to a set of three mud holes blocking our way. At this point, we had been trying to get the van to the trail crossing for an hour and forty five minutes so we decided to get out and have a smoke while we figured out what to do. Not even halfway through a smoke later, a guy in a truck came down the road and stopped to chat. He is the road maintenance guy for the base and told us that our goal to drive to the trail crossing was useless in the van, and that we should probably head back to the paved road. It wasn’t until 9:00am before we finally parked the van at a trail crossing short of our goal at only 11 miles down trail. It was the best we could do, so we grabbed our packs and hit the trail.
The hike proved to be another great day on the trail with picturesque beauty and perfect weather for being out in the woods. I am amazed at how different this section (Eglin AFB) is from the rest of the trail. There are hills that are so steep that I was relying on my trekking poles to help climb up and down the long hills. Some hills were so large and steep that the trail had to have switch-backs on it. In the valleys of the hills were crystal clear streams with white sandy bottoms, and all of them had bridges across them. One Bridge in particular was just finished and opened a few weeks ago which looked like a bridge built for cars, only a few sizes smaller. It was a great hike all day long, only a little short of what we needed, so we will have to make up miles at a later date.
On the trail, we met up with Treehouse who is hanging out with us for the night, then he has to run an errand for a day before hiking again. He plans on catching back up and doing the last week with us down the length of beach and to the end. It has been great hanging out with him for today and I’m looking forward to the new addition to the group.
A nice boardwalk, but the ground was mostly dry under it
“Jump over creek”, one of our break spots
A nice clear water stream
This bridge is a cool design using a round log as its base
Another swampy section
The new foot bridge. We were some of the first folks to use it