Return to the Florida Trail: Chapter 11

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

It started out sunny, but became a cloudy, humid day as we hiked under palms. A few people had camped nearby and others had canoed to more distant sites. We saw a large gator before crossing several bridges on a dirt road to a bike trail.

The Florida Trail cut through the forest right next to mountain bike trails, and although we heard and saw bikers through the trees, our paths never crossed. We could hear the popping of ammunition in the distance from a shooting range as we entered Mills Creek Woodslands.

There were wild orange trees hiding between the palms and we saw Sandhill Cranes in a field on our way to Wiley Dykes Sr. camp where we took a break. Other wildlife we’d see were turkeys and a raccoon before beginning our road walk which ended at Chuluota Wilderness Area.

We weren’t feeling so strong today. There were benches at the trailhead so we took a power nap hoping to gather the energy to hike on after two nights of limited sleep. When we came to, we entered a maze of palmettos, bushes, and small trees. The trail ahead was flooded so we had to get our feet wet. I would later slip off a bog bridge, but it didn’t really matter. My shoes were already wet sponges.

Frisbee needed another break and decided to sleep on the trail. I hiked on. If I stopped again, I would lose the energy and motivation to go any further. Shortly after leaving him sprawled out in the middle of the trail, a couple walking their dog passed me. They probably didn’t know what to think of a stinky, homeless-looking guy napping in their path.

I got water a Christmas Creek, but given the agricultural land surrounding the area and the cow patties everywhere, I would wait until later to drink any. Frisbee carried bleach to treat it with to make it safer to consume. I was under a large canopy of palms and oak trees as I trudged through mud, waded through ankle deep water, and climbed over stiles. The trail took a sharp turn and the blaze was tucked away, so I made arrows out of sticks and wrote “FRISBEE” in the mud to make sure he didn’t miss it and hike extra miles. We were both already feeling drained.

As I stopped to sip the remains of my ‘town water’, I saw two bald eagles fly overhead. I arrived at Fishhawk camp, and Frisbee would surprisingly arrive just 5 minutes after. Either he was hauling ass or I was dragging. Possibly both. I slept under a tiny pavilion on top of a picnic table and he laid out next to me.

The mosquitoes wouldn’t be the only thing that kept us awake. It began to rain, once again, not expected in the forecast. I got up to help shift Frisbee under the table so he could share the pavilion roof with me. It had been a long, miserable day.

23.9 miles (38.5 km)

Jump Ahead to Return to the Florida Trail: Chapter 12

Jump Back to Return to the Florida Trail: Chapter 10


Start from The Beginning

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