Wednesday, December 18th, 2019
Today was the day. The final stretch! Well, at least the final stretch of the Florida Trail. I have had a lot of fun on this trail. It catches a bad rap, but given the way our days had gone recently, I was ready to be done with it!
We got hydrated. Something that we lacked on a dangerous level yesterday. It was the last of our water, but we would be at the southern terminus of the Florida Trail where there was a visitor center. The overgrowth whipped at our legs, splitting open day old wounds. We were glad we didn’t attempt to hike this stretch at night as we dodge ankle-snapping holes in the ground that were hidden by pine needles.
We experienced rain showers which came and went, and silt still managed to reappear and build up in ours shoes making it uncomfortable to walk. We knew we were close to the finish when we started seeing day hikers. I got a small scare when I glanced to my right and saw a “gator” a few feet away from me. It turned out to be a fake.
We hydrated a little more when we found the water cache that Ralph aka “El Prez” left for us. He was a Florida trail maintainer who runs a nearby campground. He was going to deliver a package for us so we’d have food on our way to Homestead.
I was so damn happy to see that rock! We were surrounded by children on a field trip who looked at us suspiciously. I didn’t hesitate to drape myself over that rock and kiss it. We were done with the Florida Trail! That made our fourth thru hike of this year! First we started the Florida Trail, then we thru hiked the Arizona Trail, then the Pinhoti Trail, and the Long Trail. And after walking from the Pinhoti through Alabama and back to the Florida Trail, here we were, feeling awfully accomplished!
We filled out the trail register, ate, and got to meet the wonderful “El Prez” with box in hand. We took some pictures together, and talked to him about trail and the condition it was currently in.
“I rarely get to help out SOBOs! I mostly shuttle NOBOs to the trailhead.”
The two of us went against the grain on this trail. The traditional route is northbound where you finish your hike by the beach in Pensacola. However, we weren’t ending our hike here. Key West was our final destination.
9.6 miles (15.4 km)
Jump Ahead to Road Walk to Key West: Chapter 1
Jump Back to Return to the Florida Trail: Chapter 29
Start from The Beginning