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[ft-l] Ocala National Forest Trip Report - Chapter 1

Sunday, January 30, 2000 -- 12:20 PM

I pulled into Lake Delancey Campground after a 7 mile morning hike from Store 
88 on this, the final day of a 4 day, 65 mile northbound hike of the Ocala 
National Forest.  Due to a little playfulness amongst myself and my three 
hiking buddies, I arrived first.  I commandeered a couple of picnic tables in 
the mostly empty campground and laid out my wet things to dry in the 75 
degree sunshine.  The next 15 minutes was spent in chores such as trash 
disposal, water refill and lunch.  On the way to the water hand pump, I 
walked by a car camper who had his radio tuned to Rush who told his listeners 
that George Washington was doing important things at Valley Forge in brutal 
weather that has folks today whimpering by their fireplaces...  Chores 
complete, I lay out my groundcloth and prop my pack against a tree.  I remove 
my sweaty hat and tee shirt and set them out to dry, too.  My boots come off, 
too, so it's just me in my nylon hiking shorts and socks.  The temperature, 
though a bit hot for hiking, is just perfect for what I have in mind, a nice 
siesta after a productive morning on the trails.  I'm not whimpering in this 
heavenly Florida sunshine and frankly, I don't care what Rush thinks!  :)

The trip started on Thursday morning as Jeff Walters (at the time devoid of a 
trail name) met me at my apartment at 6 am and we began driving our two cars 
to the Forest.  We decided that Juniper Springs would make for a good 
intermediate shuttle point, shaving off some of the logistical time it would 
take to shuttle a vehicle all the way to the northern terminus at Rodman 
Campground.  This was an expensive choice since Juniper Springs charges $10 a 
day for overnight parking!!!!!  We were shocked, but so eager to begin the 
hike that we agreed to the extortion.  We left my car at Juniper and drove 
his Jeep to the Clearwater Lake trailhead.

As we unloaded our packs from the Jeep, Matthew Carter, a young man of 27 
approached and asked questions about the trail.  It turned out that he and 
his partner had driven from Kentucky and North Carolina to escape the winter 
weather and to have their first reunion hike since thruhiking the Appalachian 
Trail in 1999.  Matt's trail name is Dark Star and he summitted Katahdin on 
July 23rd, 1999 after a hike lasting 4 months and 4 days.  Ed Speer is his 
buddy.  Ed is 50 and uses the trail name Not To Worry.  Ed had to drop out at 
Duncannon last year due to a family crisis but will be back at Springer in 
mid-March to become a 2000 miler in 2000.

Because they had to get their packs provisioned, we got a head start on them, 
but at our first rest stop, they joined us, and we remained together for the 
rest of this pleasant trip. The first thing I noticed is that they were both 
sporting GoLite Breeze backpacks.  Dark Star carried a bivy and Not To Worry 
had a Nomad tent which he had just received and was trying out for the very 
first time.  Jeff, too, was sporting his homemade lightweight backpack. So I 
was very out of place with my Camp Trails Wilderness external frame pack.  
I'm guessing that all three of their packs combined weighed less than half of 
my pack!  I also had the heaviest tent in the group, my North Face Starlite.  
Hiking with three lightweight backpackers was sure making me envious.

It was cool hiking that day, and miles on the level terrain mounted easily.  
We decided to push on to Buck Lake for the night where we would find water 
and privies, a distance of 15 miles.  We became friends rapidly, since we all 
were familiar with the AT and long distance backpacking.  Dark Star and Not 
To Worry send special greetings to any who read this whom they've hiked with 
on the AT.

Not To Worry erected his Nomad for the first time on the trail.  As always, 
it looks great and draws a lot of interest.  However, he didn't have in mind 
the kind of interest that a passing dog had in christening it by lifting its 
hind leg before Not To Worry even had a chance to set foot inside.  
Fortunately, he shooed away the dog before the deed was done.

Dinner for me was a heavenly concoction of Ramen noodles, instant potatoes 
and gravy and dehydrated veggies and chili meat which I cooked up on my Esbit 
stove.  Many thanks to POG for the dehydrated stuff -- best tasting trail 
meal I ever cooked.

Since it was getting cold quickly, we all retired to our tents, and by 7:30 
quiet reigned in our little lakeside campsite.  Hours later as I was dreaming 
pleasant thoughts of maidens, damsels and hiker babes, the serenity was 
interrupted as a car passed by with stereo blasting and windows open.  We 
heard a couple of lines of Mick Jagger singing Honky Tonk Women which quickly 
faded back to quiet.  Kind of fitting with the dream!  :)

Chapter 2 tomorrow, kiddies.

Happy trails,

Solar Bear

"The true profession of a man is to find his way to himself."  Still looking, 
but I'm not finding any blazes.  :)
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