Saturday, November 16th, 2019
There were only about 4 miles to go until we completed the Blackwater section. But first, coffee! We overshot the Harold Convenience Store at first, but turned around after crossing over I-10. Our guide told us that the owner and staff were very hiker friendly there, and we believed it after calling the previous night to ask when the store opened. The guy on the other end was friendly and told Frisbee, “We look forward to seeing you!”
When we got there, we left our packs out front and wished the lady behind the counter good morning. The cheerful greeting was not returned. This lady did not make us feel welcome, and actually treated us as if we were a complete burden to her day.
We got breakfast sandwiches and coffee, then returned outside, in the cold, to try and enjoy them at a nearby picnic table. As we finished our coffee, we noticed a local woman slowly walking by the store, trying to peek inside from the street. She decided not to go inside and kept moving, and then we heard the beep of the grumpy lady’s car lock. I’m guessing we weren’t the only ones who experienced this employee’s ‘chipper’ demeanor. Then we watched a homeless man enter the store. I guess this lady assumed we were homeless, not hikers, and the owner hasn’t given her the memo! At least the sandwiches were good!
We crossed back over I-10, and wrapped up our last few miles. The Blackwater section was complete!
Now we could say we have hiked from Mount Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia on the Appalachian Trail; through the short stretch of the Benton McKaye Trail that connects it to the Pinhoti Trail; to the Alabama Road Walk which ran into the Blackwater section of the Florida Trail. And this past February, we hiked the entire panhandle all the way to Hampton, Florida.
We backtracked three-tenths of a mile back to Deer Lake Road where Flattop picked us up. He and Kelly were hosting us for the night. After freshening up, we watched college football with Flattop as he showed us all of his ultralight gear. We felt like we were at a UL Gear Expo! Most of what he has collected were items you can’t check out in stores, so it was awesome! Then he took us to Pounders Hawaiian Grill for lunch, which was AMAZING! If you’re ever in Crestview, Florida (or Nashville, Tennessee where there’s a second location), I highly recommend it! Delicious!
We hung out at the house and I picked his brain about UL stoves. After being a stoveless hiker for so long, I think I need more food variety in my life.
We grabbed pizzas from Little Caesar’s which we enjoyed after Kelly got home from work. We exchanged travel and hiking stories well past “hiker midnight”. It was a wonderful night with two incredible people!
Jump Ahead to Return to the Florida Trail: Chapter 1
Jump Back to The Florida Trail: Blackwater Section Part 2
Start from The Beginning