Thursday, November 14th, 2019
We were happy that we didn’t have rain overnight, but the morning was cloudy and cold. We took a short break at the campground by Hurricane Lake and watched helicopters fly overhead all day. They must have been overseeing the controlled burn we had walked through yesterday.
The Guthook guide had a “Aggressive Dog Warning”, so we approached the area with caution. Two medium-sized ones ran across the road into the field in front of us, not even noticing we were there, and we saw chickens, goats, horses, cattle, and other barnyard animals over the fence, but no aggressive dog. We did see a massive paw print in the dirt though, so I don’t doubt there was one to be reckoned with!
We thought we were gonna have wet feet when we saw a flooded trail ahead of us, but we were relieved to spot the foot bridge next to it. Wet feet on the Florida Trail are inevitable, but I was more than happy to delay the experience.
What followed was a lot of silk blazing through giant Banana spider webs and crossing busted up foot bridges until we were able to score a hitch to Baker.
We caught a ride with a guy who was living in his truck after leaving the Mississippi Delta to live and work in Florida. He sold seeds and feed to farmers and told us about how little money farmers make in comparison to the money made by the retailers they sell the product to. Sometimes the farmers would lose money during the process.
We learned later that the rain in the forecast last night was postponed for later today. Before planning our next steps, we went to Gator Cafe to grab some food and coffee.
We told the waitress, “You might want to seat us away from people, we kinda stink.”
She quietly asked with uncertainty, “Homelesssss?”
“We’ve been hiking.”
Nimblewill Nomad gave Frisbee a phone number to a trail angel named Kelly who lived in the neighboring town of Crestview. We asked her if it was possible to get a ride there so we could stay in a motel for the night and dodge the rainstorm. She told us her boyfriend Sean could give us a ride there and back to the trail the next morning. They normally host hikers at their home, but were in the process of moving from one place to another. They were still willing to host us, but needed a heads up so they could tidy up. We told them not to worry about it, a ride was more than enough help.
Sean, whose trail name is Flattop, picked us up as it began to storm. Hitching in the rain, especially to a place that wasn’t a direct shot would’ve been tricky otherwise, so we were beyond grateful! He was excited to see how tiny our packs were. He loved talking about ultralight gear and we did so all the way to the Hilton Motel, which we stayed at when we hiked through the Florida Trail panhandle last February. He asked if we would join him and Kelly for dinner later, and of course we accepted.
After freshening up, we met them out front to head across the street to Wayne’s Catfish House. They were awesome people! Flattop has lived in Crestview his whole life, but didn’t know about the Florida Trail until he was an adult. Once he learned about it, he was hooked! Sadly, his mother passed away a few years back, and his father did so recently. He took off work to care for his dad during his final days and it is his father’s house that they were in the process of moving into. The whole experience made him realize life is too short, and since he’s between jobs anyway, he plans to thru hike the Florida Trail this upcoming year.
Kelly has developed an equal love for the trail when he introduced it to her. She doesn’t plan on joining him on his hike, but absolutely loves hosting hikers, and will be providing him with trail magic as he makes his way back up north. They shared stories of the hikers they hosted and we shared stories from our previous and current ventures. They offered to host us after we finished the Blackwater section, and Flattop was willing to pick us up near the end of it, which would save us from repeating many miles to make it back to civilization. We were more than happy to do so.
Jump Ahead to The Florida Trail – Blackwater Section Part 2
Jump Back to The Alabama Road Walk to The Florida Trail
Start from the Beginning of The Alabama Road Walk
Start from the Beginning of The Florida Trail: Chapter 1