Friday, February 8th, 2013
It is 6 AM but, the hotel lobby is crammed with guests. Each outfitted in the uniform of companies that support the American automobile racing industry. The Michelin tire representatives are having an animated discussion about the quality of rubber and how that material used in their tire is superior to other brands. Motor engine mechanics are buzzing about the adjustments that need to be made to their team members racing machine. This is Sebring Florida home of the well-known Sebring race track the little town is not far from the Florida Trail. Well actually it’s about 14 miles from the trail start but nonetheless to ensure that I had a good night sleep I made my way to Sebring to find a warm bed and am ready now to head out the door to continue trigging in the mud along the trail.
In the parking lot late model Porsche automobiles are already revving up. I speak to some of their owners. They are actually average Joe’s. Businessmen a few blue-collar folks and others who have come to race their road machines on the famous Sebring track. As the sun slowly rises they roar off onto the highway seeking a weekend thrill that I’m sure all of them have worked hard to earn. I wonder briefly why I never got into automobiles. Certainly I have been blessed with the financial resources to afford any type of car that my little heart desired but that type of mechanical recognition tool never turned me on. So, barring some kind of injury, I suppose I am destined to wobble on, likely alone, on the roads, and now the trails, that help define the remotest areas of our planet.
Friday, February 8th, 2013
Mud ankle deep, murky water, bugs and fantastic Cyprus trees that is what I encounter in the wet muggy terrain along the Kissimmee River. There are a few shaded areas which help to push me ever forward. Even though the going is tough I am thankful that I was not walking this same path last month when the water level was higher. Daringly, I avoid taking “the high water alternative route” an am rewarded with more deep mud and annoying bugs. But then again, this is the Florida Trail!
Comments Off on Back in the Swamp
Friday, February 8th, 2013
“Guess what I had eaten before I went to bed last night – 10 tangerines”. That is how the old-timer explained the glory of his night. I had met him right behind the Dairy Queen when I stopped for a respite and a hot cup of coffee. I returned to the trail and have a reasonably pleasant walk on till I finish the day at Hickory Hammock.
Thursday, February 7th, 2013
The morning is romantic as I wobble through the heavily wooded Palm grove. Silence prevails as I pushed my way through heavy fog. In this segment I walk 3 miles out and then returned another 3 miles in the same direction. Then as I leave Yeats marsh I hit a rugged cow pasture and shapeless tall grass. The grass slices my bare ankles and I wish I had been smart enough to wear long pants. In many sections the grass had been caught some time ago but as this is a semi-wilderness and a few ants get that my legs as I struggle onward. I am almost out of water and overjoyed when I finally reach another road junction.
Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
It is finally warming up again. Parents continue to line up at Okeechobee’s many launching ramps. Fishing is King!
The trail is still somewhat on the rough side â€“ I do not like rocks underfoot. Okeechobee itself is a wonder. This, the second largest lake in the United States, covers more than 700 square miles. No wonder the fisher persons love it.
I end the day finally reaching the road junction along Route 70.
Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
This is sugarcane country but the sweet fragrance of the recently harvested crop, and the related odor from the surrounding cane processing plants, plays second fiddle to the art of fishing for bass. Sporty, multicolored, and super high powered fishing boats capable of flying the shallow marshes around Lake Okeechobee clog the streets and hotel parking lots. Men, and a few women, of all shapes and sizes some dressed in vests packed with lines, lures, artificial bait speak the jargon of fishing. There is a big tournament coming to the community and this the week before its start, is practice time for these professional bass fishers. They come from all over the United States I noticed the license plates from as far away as Oklahoma and Texas. Each boat is typically pulled by a similarly flashy pickup truck often meticulously lettered in bright colors with the name of the fishermen who owns the truck and the boat. I suppose if you put your name on the truck you have not only experience the glory of winning one of these bass tournaments but they have also had the honor of appearing on the ever present fishing channel
Monday, February 4th, 2013
The trail was paved smoothly leaving the More Haven lock and dam. It shot straight as an arrow all the way to Lakeport. A few miles later the trail suddenly gets difficult. As the Sun rises I recall that in the early morning I was chilled but now in the afternoon I am back dressed in short pants. It is a little dreary pushing a lawn the narrow tire track, dusty, pathway. The canal to the West is only a few feet wide but an occasional ranch house and from time to time a horse add some viewing joy.
The S-129 pump station grounds are attractive and peaceful. After a long day I am tempted to stop and rest but in typical fashion plug foreword.
My end point for the day is near the Indian Prairie campsite.
Sunday, February 3rd, 2013
The beauty and solitude of law bullying along the canal bordering Lake Okeechobee are intriguing. I am alone, except for cars zipping along on the adjacent route 27. The breeze is strong although with the sun being high it is warm. The morning has been a little chilly but then again this is typical South Florida weather in February, unpredictable!
Then I see it, the fish camp. It is called Joe’s. It is really just a small shack and in the rear there are rooms for dedicated fisher persons to spend the night. I look for an acquaintance from the state of Georgia who is also walking the Florida trail. He said he may spend the night at the camp. “Yeah, he was here but someone give him a ride up to the other side of the next lock. Their doing work along the levee and part of the trail is closed. You’ll have to use the road”, the owner of the camp tells me.
I begin to wonder about fisher persons. I guess they are a lot like a long-distance walkers. We both relish the solitude. We look forward to the adventure of doing our. Maybe I’ll try that fishing someday!
I end the day at the Moore Haven Lock and Dam.
Saturday, February 2nd, 2013
The evening breeze is chilly the temperature is about 50Â° which is called for Florida at this time of year. But the bar is hopping after all this is fishing haunt on the shores of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. Everyone around me seemed to be a senior citizen. They eat heartily even though most are overweight. I do feel a little self-satisfied that I am able to actually walk so long for so many days. And of course I am very thankful for this skill.
Friday, February 1st, 2013
Rain and wind delayed mice start after driving a long way from my home in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. But I make my way semi-enthusiastically nonetheless along the L-3 canal. Freshly caught and recently harvested sugarcane fields of my interest. I had forgotten that this part of Central Florida is called the sweetest part of Florida because of the hundreds of acres of sugarcane fields planted and maintained by the American sugar Corporation. I briefly recall my many years in Brooklyn New York and the colleagues I had no one who worked for Amstar Corporation in their sugarcane processing plant located on Brooklyn’s East River waterfront. From time to time I hear splashing of water as animals jumping to the canal when I approach. I know they are alligators but today I do not see them.
I end the day at the John Stretch Park a few miles west of the pump house.