Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
“No more picking up people off the side of the road!” we warned Bonita as we drank coffee and ate breakfast sandwiches.
We were happy she took us under her wing for the night, but didn’t want her to get in serious trouble picking up the wrong people. I pet one of her cats as she told us more about her family. She was a very religious woman, a widow, and had 6 children, 30-some grandchildren, even more great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild, if I remember correctly. The family was close knit, but she mentioned one son, a doctor, who went astray.
“He’s gay,” she said, and I jumped to conclusions thinking conflict with the Baptist church may have led to his exile.
“I don’t care about that. He only cares about money.” She went on to tell us that he was once married, had six children with his wife, then abandoned them. He moved away and refused to help his former spouse raise the kids, also refusing to pay child support. She would have been completely on her own with six mouths to feed if it weren’t for the rest of Bonita’s family’s support. The family had tried reaching out to him, but he has refused to be a part of it. Bonita was sincerely distressed over this sad reality, and it saddened us as well.
We loaded up in her car with her two small dogs, the blind diabetic one on her lap, and the one named Rambo on mine, and dropped us off where she found us the day before.
Then it was back to the grind walking along Route 29, which fortunately wasn’t as busy on this side of the tracks. We took a snack break before turning onto Rome Road.
As we passed a cotton farm, two cute dogs ran out barking at us, then decided to walk with us after a few pets. The more timid one continued to follow us as we were approaching the woods.
I felt awful after stomping my feet to scare her off. She was really sweet, but I didn’t want her to wander too far from home. She had already followed us a good ways from where we found her. It broke my heart to see her sitting in the middle of the dirt road, watching us as we walked further and further away before heading back. I felt so guilty, but knew it was the right thing to do.
We walked along forest roads for a while before finding a church to sit out front of as we ate our lunch. A lady driving by stared at us with suspicion as we approached it.
We could see the smoke from a controlled burn in progress as helicopters monitored it overhead. We were so sore, but so close to the end. We joked about the unlikely possibility of the forest service stopping us less than a mile from the border due to the controlled burn. But there was no stopping us now! We’ve come too far. And no one ever did!
The yellow blazes turned into blue blazes as we made it to the Alabama-Florida border, ending the road walk and beginning the Blackwater section of the Florida Trail. It felt so good to be done!
There was a note left for us by Nimblewill Nomad and Vagabond Rick, as well as a beer from an old AT friend named Bushwacker who had started his third Florida Trail hike earlier that day. We’ve quit drinking since we hiked around him in 2016, but packed it out anyway.
We threw our blaze orange over our heads and in good time. We ran into a hunter who was lacking it, carrying a bow and completely decked out in swamp thing camouflage.
“There’re people hunting deer out here. Be careful.”
We should’ve told him the same as he walked down a dirt road with no orange on.
We would only travel a short distance on the Blackwater section, a whopping 2.3 miles before calling it a day. There was rain in the forecast, so we pitched our tarps for a change.
Jump Ahead to The Florida Trail – Blackwater Section Part 1
Jump Back to The Alabama Road Walk – Part 9
Start from The Beginning