Friday, February 8th, 2019
We were well rested, aside from a suspected slow leak in my brand new sleep pad. I had to blow it back up a couple of times. We were out of there as the sun was rising which made for some nice scenery across the dunes. I’m guessing the recent hurricane was the cause of some rerouting. The trail markers didn’t match our Guthook app.
Eventually we crossed the road to the beach where we’d experience the start of some truly windy conditions the remainder of the day. The trail took us from Pensacola Beach through Gulf Island National Seashore. We had a long beach walk ahead of us!
The wind would have us taking shelter behind a sand dune so we could enjoy our breakfast. A seagull did its best to look cute hoping to score some handouts. It worked!
We’d take another short break at Opal Beach which felt like a ghost town, then we treaded through the sand until the trail returned to the road at Navarre Beach.
While cruising passed the large beach rental homes, we’d run into our first NOBOs. They told us how beautiful the upcoming Eglin section was.
We sat on the side of the Tom Thumb gas station to eat lunch, chatting with a few locals as we hid from the wind. After crossing the causeway, we’d have some more road walking before finally entering the woods.
Once I saw the sign for Eglin, I panicked. I hadn’t prepared to be here so soon and we had limited data to check their map for closures. Crossing into closed territory could mean getting blown up by the Air Force during their training exercises. Fortunately a trail maintenance guy (I wish I remembered his name) and his adorable pit bull Sinbad pulled up and he gave me the scoop. He told us he hiked the Florida Trail about 5 years prior. The place where we were planning to camp was safe, but the beautiful section everyone told us about was closed for the weekend. It normally wasn’t. We chatted with him on our way to Dean campsite where Frisbee set up a nice fire.
We listened to explosions and gunfire nearby right before bed.
19.5 miles (31.4 km)
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