Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
Fresh rain makes a swamp soggy, of course. And for the first time this outing I wore my mock boots. I was kind of enjoying being back in a real swamp, on till I saw the camouflaged tent. It was perched right on the edge of the official trail. Freshly cut ferns added to the deception. When I was within feet of this on a welcome sight, a large white hand darted out of one of the tent openings. Then, the hands owner said” hello”. As I walked by through a narrow opening at the front of the tent I saw that the hands owner also gripped a large well oiled rifle.” What are you hunting close”, I asked this interloper.” Going after dear today close”, he replied softly. Adding to the suspense I never saw this other persons face. But the large American flag inside of this small cubbyhole tent told me that he too must have been a veteran.
“Happy Thanksgiving”, I hollered as I hustled as fast as I could pass this hunter home I was glad did not mistake me for his prey.
Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
It rained steady, but not hard, all morning, as I sloshed my way through Ocala’s pines and firms. In for raingear I was comfortable. But due to poor planning I had forgotten my rain overshoes and my feet were quickly soaked. Special toe socks prevented the dreaded foot blisters. By afternoon, as the sun rose, I was dry once again.
Then I heard the news report that a super storm complete with lightning was about to come through. Bravely, I thought, I retreated after walking 16 good miles along the Florida Historic Trail.
Monday, November 25th, 2013
The fun began early today, just after sunrise. I wandered into Marshall’s swamp. Thickets, ferns, and falling trees decorated the environment. Yet, there were only patches of almost dry water pools. Was this really a swamp?
Dryness has its advantages. I saw another slippery copperhead snake as it wiggled rapidly inches in front of me. I yelled out a startled fear, but the little guy was long gone. Later in the day I encountered more of the same but continued wobbling a lawn in joining the national forests in its pristine clean and thankfully reasonably devoid of people environment.
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Sunday, November 24th, 2013
I am moving. It is only 7 AM but I am struck by how dry the pine woods seem to be. I crunch the falling November leaves. Spiders, on outstretched webs block the trail. A snake, likely a moccasin, stops, observes me, and then disappears into the dry, still, ferns. The rest of the day is like that. The rest of the day is like that. I continue to move along a little bit monotonously. And then the day is done as I look for a warm bed and a hot meal once again.
Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
The great thing about the FHT is the solitude. Utter silence, with the sound exceptions of occasional bird calls, snakes scurrying through the underbrush and large gators jumping into shallow canals. Today there is a change. Horseback riders and a number of mountain bikers billow commands and jokes to each other as they saunter just yards away from me. Thanks to thick brush they do not seem me and I am almost alone.
Friday, November 22nd, 2013
I rejoined the unique Florida Historical Trail again today. [After jaunts in Missouri and Alaska over the summer in my quest to finally complete this walk from Barrow, Alaska t Key West, Florida.] It is good to be back, I had missed this trail.
I started walking where I had left off in the spring along the Withlacoochee Trail and bicycle path. The path is paved the entire length. Friendly senior bikers greet me as I trudge along in the 85 degree heat.
The wilderness portion of the route reappears after I navigate a narrow shouldered road fighting car and truck traffic along the way. Then I am in the woods. The sandy road is relatively easy to navigate thanks to a recent dry spell. At the Pruitt trail head a walker just days ahead of me had written “Impossible to get through ahead” I am thankful.
Thursday, November 21st, 2013
One of the 60 something women, in a group of 8, said, as she raised her glass, “A Toast to no more surgeries”. The others applauded acknowledging the medical event the toaster had apparently just survived. “But, we are another year older”, someone else complained. Oh, how right they all are!
Thursday, November 21st, 2013
Cabin fever has gotten the better of me despite the wonders of my North Miami penthouse, and small Oleta River rowing boat. I am journeying off again to tackle the Florida Trail.
This season I am determined to be fully prepared. Sure! The trail is complex. My style of walking the trail and then returning the same route twice each day requires meticulous map planning so that I know the exact road crossings and entrance points off the trail. I study the effective Florida Trail maps, a general road map, and an atlas of smaller area maps across Florida. Prepared, I think, off I go.