Thursday, March 28th, 2013
I am not prepared for the early-morning frost. Although there are orange orchards nearby the temperature is only in the high 30s. I have spent the night at a hotel in Davenport about 5 miles from the DeerStill road ending point of my journey yesterday. “We had two other hikers who stayed here last month” , the manager of the hotel tells me.”They were carrying big back packs and said they needed a good rest before continuing along the lonesome trail”. When it is my turn to hit the road just as the Sun begins to rise my two shirts and sweater are insufficient to keep me warm. After a short distance I finally take the long three-hour drive back to North Miami. Of course I will return to complete my track along the fantastic trail.
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Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
At the 7/11 Near Poinciana Rd. and the old Tampa Highway the owner complains “you can tell they have been opened. When they need eyedrops they squirt them in their eyes, then put the box back on the shelf. The same with condoms, it’s very interesting because they usually take to, seal the box up and try to sneak it back on the shelf.
The walking has actually been pleasant in the brisk morning air. Another walker not doing the Florida trail runs toward me then turns around runs by me and starts walking fast. Oh well, this is the challenge I have been looking for. Sort me at all I adopt my best race walking form and fortune half miles blitz my way along the pleasant sidewalk and of course overcome the other walker. Such is competition along the Florida trail.
I end the day along is Deen Still road just a few miles from the junction of Route 27.
Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
The morning chill shakes me awake enough to walk 11 miles once again along the Canoe Creek. City sidewalks kite me and provide a pleasant respite from the buzzing traffic. Finally I reach Neptune Avenue and continue walking on till I finally reach the lake in the village of to semi high-end as I hit the narrow old Tampa Highway but the road has been good yielding up 17.6 miles.
Monday, March 25th, 2013
The Florida trail has been exciting but difficult for a road warrior such as myself. Give me an open stretch of road and I can affect forever, or so it seems. Now the trail suddenly ends when I make a choice of traveling the Western corridor of the Ocoela section of the trail. Off I wonder, mile by mile, up what is known as Canoe Creek Road. There is no shoulder so I stay alert as construction trucks and occasional cars whiz rapidly by me.
Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
I must be weak. I found the first 13 miles NW of the road very rough. The train was deep sand with hard sand mounds dotted continuously throughout the trail. Walking was a bear. I was hemmed in by a barbed wire cattle fence on the East and tall grass for a sand bogged potholes on the West. I stay motivated by remembering that this part of the trail would have been nearly impossible to navigate if it had been flooded as it likely was just a few weeks ago.
But, all is not lost the day ends up with a walk through tall grass and trees that had shed thousands of brown pine needles covering what otherwise would have been rough ground. And I am able to end the day at the trails ends in the tall grass and tree shaded retreat guarded by high fire observation towers.
Monday, February 25th, 2013
The rough terrain around Kicco water management area stressed my already injured knee. I moved on nonetheless. In the end, I had to take a three-hour break after walking the first 5 miles. The interlude meant that I had a short day only walking 12.7 miles. But, all was not lost, as I was able to get in the little road walking around the familiar River Ranch Resort and complete the day at route 60.
Sunday, February 24th, 2013
“I am the lease holder for livestock at the Air Force Base. Got 800 head of prime beef, plus we breed and sell calf’s”, the old time cowboy Steve Hadley tells me. “Gonna lose my lease in June. I have been ranching here for 30 years but the Air Force has a different idea about how cattle effect the environment. Don’t know what I’ll do”, he says sadly. “But I still got Ruby we’ve been married 40 years, got two great kids. So life ain’t that bad”
Sunday, February 24th, 2013
Sunday is a church day first so I get a late, 10 AM, start on the trail. The sun brightens early and I am hot. A nice sandy road leads out of the Kissimmee campground. Then, quickly, the fun begins. Lots of ferns, prickly bushes with sharp thorns, weeds, grass and of course giant Cyprus trees make the meandering difficult. Suddenly, uncharacteristically, and scarily, I lose my way and in the deep underbrush I cannot find the trail marker, the distinctive orange blaze painted on trees. Perhaps, it was the wine the previous night but then as I turn around I cannot find the return blaze either. I am lost! I sense the direction of the river but in my confusion go in the wrong direction. I walk in circles for an hour or more but do manage to always return to a distinctive cross road. Then a cow boy appears in a pick-up truck and thankfully shows me the way home.
Saturday, February 23rd, 2013
I make my way from Bluff Hammock along semi wet trail. The water is not deep but I sink often into foul smelling thick mud. The aging boardwalks, constructed with lumber form downed Cyprus and pine trees, are a big help as thy skirt me around the sloggiest portions of the trail.Â The cool of the morning also makes the going easier but still the constant lifting and sinking in the mud are tiring.
At day’s end I finish this part of the route at the Kissimmee Camp Ground. Then, following my plan to have a support vehicle nearby, I drive in a big circle to the trail starting again at the Avon Air Force base. I plan to start out the next day along the Kissimmee River again. But to get to the start point I have to negotiate more than 20 miles of the Avon Base dirt and dusty roads. Signs warning of practice bombing areas keep me focused and add an air of excitement to this great adventure.
Friday, February 22nd, 2013
It was a long drive from my home in North Miami to the part of the Trail where I last left off about 15 miles east of Sebring â€“ the auto race track town. Stiff from sitting I take to the trail none the less and complete the section which ends at Bluff Hammock. And then, a nice red snapper dinner at a Latino restaurant. So much for camping out!