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[ft-l] My week of hiking - Part 1 - At the beach

Here's a recap of my hikes of last week.  I hope Sandy and I aren't the only 
ones out there hiking.  This is a hiking list, isn't it?  :)

Wednesday night - Canaveral Nat'l Seashore

I'm beginning to get addicted to these night hikes along the beach.  This was 
my third foray into this unique environment where sight is the least 
important sense during the hike.  I don't even wear my eyeglasses during the 

During the day on Wednesday, Sandy called and told me that she would be 
having dinner with her sister and a friend, so I had a free evening.  Because 
I'm unable to run due to a sore Achilles tendon, I have to do a lot of hiking 
to keep my weight in check, so I decided another beach walk would burn some 
calories as well as fuel the imagination of this budding amateur naturalist.

Upon arrival I noticed a strong wind from the northeast and saw that the 
wooden walkway to the beach had been destroyed by the last tropical storm -- 
the one that stranded me on Captiva Island.  I also noticed that the tide was 
up and only a little bit of beach was left to walk on.  Had I known the 
conditions before I set out, I probably would have stayed home, but since an 
hour drive was invested, I decided to venture forth.

After a short beach walk, I came upon a stretch of several hundred yards 
where the waves were crashing into rocks at the head of the beach.  Since the 
beach was submerged, I removed my socks and shoes and waded through this 
section, stubbing a couple of toes occasionally on submerged rocks -- OUCH! 
There was still a bit of light remaining so I felt safe wading this section.  
I assumed it was high tide and that when I returned in about 4 hours in the 
dark the beach in this section would be walkable. It turns out that the tides 
were being exaggerated by the  25+ MPH winds and the tide never went out 
during my entire 5 hour walk.

The first half of my walk was easier because I was being propelled down the 
beach by the wind.  Of course I knew there would be hell to pay on the way 
back, but I enjoy a good physical challenge and I was completely prepared 
with 3 quarts of water & snacks and comfy in my windbreaker.  About an hour 
into the walk in the darkness, I spotted the shadowy forms of three raccoons 
scavenging at the edge of the surf.  The sound and fury of wind and wave 
allowed me to approach to within 20 feet before they noticed me and retreated.

Somewhere further along my walk, I noticed a small green glowing "thing" on 
the beach.  My curiosity compelled me to pick it up and put it in my zippered 
jacket pocket.  I would repeat this process four more times during the course 
of the evening's  12 mile walk.  Because I was walking in the dark, it was 
hard to miss these glowing apparitions at my feet.  Because I wasn't carrying 
a flashlight, I wasn't able to solve the mystery at the time, but at home the 
following morning when I unzipped that pocket, I discovered 5 tiny soft 
shelled sea creatures about a quarter inch in length.  I don't know whether 
they glowed due to there own internal processes or because they had consumed 
the glowing microscopic plankton from the sea.  If anyone knows more about 
this fascinating topic, please let me know.

After consuming my first quart of water, I decided it was time to turn 
around.  What a shock!  Gusts of wind that sent spray into my face and 
sustained winds of 25 MPH that caused me to walk like a drunken sailor.  On 
top of that, I had to dart right and left like a sandpiper to dodge the 
oncoming waves in a not altogether successful attempt to keep my shoes and 
socks dry.  The beach provided the easiest walking closest to the surf, the 
fluffy sand higher up a chore to walk on.  Sometimes a wave would run all the 
way up the beach and I would find myself clinging to the side of a sand dune 
until it receded. In defense of the sandpiper I will say two things:  they 
were too sensible to be out that night and they are sure a whole lot more 
nimble and graceful dodging the surf than I was.

Though I was working hard, I was glorying in the stars overhead, the brisk 
and fresh salt air and my complete solitude out there.  No doubt had anyone 
seen me I would have been labeled a nut, but I felt so right and serene doing 
what I was doing.  My muscles ached and miles in wet socks were causing the 
skin on my feet to complain, but in a way these pains felt good, the welcome 
price of Living with a capital L.

Eventually the miles slipped away and I approached the northern boundary of 
Canaveral Nat'l Seashore.  Since the tide had, if anything, intensified, I 
would not safely be able to wade the section I had waded earlier, so I 
clambered up the wreckage of a boardwalk into the Seashore's parking lot and 
roadwalked the last mile to my car.

These beachwalks are a blast!  I hope some of you out there will try it!

Stay tuned for part 2.

Happy trails,

Solar Bear