Thursday, December 5th, 2019
We got up before the sun rose. We slept behind a tree next to a busy highway and wanted to get up before we were visible. We hiked about 2 miles down the road until we reached our turn off point.
There was a second opportunity to get to town a good ways ahead, but given the amount of activity, we tried hitching into Kenansville early. It was freezing cold and after having no luck for about 30 minutes of trying, we threw in the towel and decided to try again later further down the trail.
The scabs from our already thrashed legs were whipped open again by the tall grasses, holly bushes, and palmettos. I was grateful that I had my tetanus shot up to date after rusty barb wire from a fallen fence bounced into my calf. The ground was riddled with grass mounds and hog wallows, and when it was flat, we struggled to get traction on the loose sand covering the roads.
We were both relieved to make it to Canoe Creek Road where we would try hitching into Kenansville again. We weren’t there long. Shana who was a manager for the Wildlife Management Areas of Three Lakes and Kissimmee Prairie was pulling out of the trailhead parking lot and was willing to drop us off. She told us about her passion for bird watching as we drove passed a flock of 30+ Sandhill cranes, and her experience bouncing from one park service job to the next in the state.
“Full time positions are hard to come by so when you find one, you stick with it!”
She was finally settled into a long term position and had been living and working there for a few years now, doing bird counts in the early hours of the day.
She dropped us off at the Kenansville Country Store where we ordered a large pizza and coffee, as well as our resupply. The resupply that followed this one was expected to be pretty pricey since it was going to be at an expensive “glamping” resort.
While we ate, a lot of people stopped to ask us about our hike. An older fellow apologized for not picking us up earlier, and joked about the odds, 1 in 1,000,000, that both the driver and the hitchhiker are serial killers. We told him about getting picked up by Ricky Birch on the Long Trail while we were trying to hitch home. He was falsely accused of murder, but thanks to DNA, he was exonerated this year after serving time since 1985.
The older guy told us about a friend who was falsely accused and locked up when a prison buddy slit another guy’s throat during an argument at a bar. A few other locals and a group of bikers also chatted with us. Everyone we met there was very friendly.
We hitched back to the trail with a guy from Ohio named Kelly. He drove a semi for a living, but it was currently broken, so he was driving a truck with equipment for unloading pallets on the trailer. He talked about floating down the rivers and about an atlas he had listing all of the springs and historical sites in Florida.
He dropped us back where we left off at the start of the Prairie Lakes Unit of Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area. The Florida Trail has many beautiful sections, and I though the Ocala section that we had recently passed through was pretty astounding, but this had to be my favorite so far. It was short, but well maintained and had stunning scenery throughout!
We camped under oak hammocks and heard hogs, owls and coyotes overnight.
20.6 miles (33.2 km)
Jump Ahead to Return to the Florida Trail: Chapter 16
Jump Back to Return to the Florida Trail: Chapter 14
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