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[ft-l] Fla. Trail Trip Report

  I know y'all have been holding your breath, just waiting for my Florida
  Trail trip report.  I can tell by all the purple faces.  Turns out there
  wasn't much of a hike, so there isn't much to report.  What was to have
  been a 7-day hike turned into a 2-day hike due to an equipment problem.
  And, speaking of equipment, I had purchased a c___ p____ with prepaid
  service and was able to contact my daughter with it when I needed to bail
  out and have her drive down and pick me up at a road crossing.  FWIW.

  My daughter, with her mother-in-law along, drove me to my starting point
  on the Florida Trail at US 319, south of Tallahassee.  I began hiking
  east at 11:30am with the temperature in the low 60's.  The first few
  miles were fairly open dry scrub and not particularly pretty, but
  there were a lot of birds and their chirping, along with the cool
  sunshine, made for pleasant hiking.  After about 4 miles, the trail
  got closer to the marshy edges of the Gulf, and there was denser cover
  with more palm trees mixed in.  At about 5.5 miles, there was a side
  trail down to a point on the shore with views across the water, but I
  had been there on a day hike years ago, so skipped it this time.  Lots
  of marsh views along this section of trail.

  Got to the first campsite just after 5pm, with enough daylight left to
  get the tent up and dinner eaten. There are designated campsites within
  the Refuge, so you have to take what's there--in this case, uneven ground
  that looked like the wild hogs had plowed it up recently, with vegetation
  growing back almost everywhere. The temperature got down around 40 degrees
  that night--nice sleeping weather.

  The next day I got back on the Trail at 10am, temperature about 50 degrees
  and very comfortable for hiking.  Prettier trail today, especially just
  before crossing Spring Creek on a very nice bridge.  However, maintenance
  is sorely needed, as the vegetation was growing across the trail in many
  places.  Shortly after the creek, the trail goes through boggy places,
  with black muck a foot or more deep.  Three high bridges had been built
  in that section but a storm surge earlier this year had washed away the
  steps up to the bridges and had picked the bridges up and twisted them.
  So I had to clamber up onto these groin-to-waist-high bridges, and
  gingerly cross them as they slanted first left to right and  then right
  to left, and then back the other way again and so forth.  It was hard to
  tell if they were ready to crumble under the weight, and I can only
  imagine the nerves of steel required to cross them when they're wet and
  slippery!  They're about 20-25 feet long, and it seemed to take forever
  as I carefully made my way across, dragging my pack behind me.  (I had
  decided that if I slipped off into the muck, at least maybe my pack would
  stay behind and remain clean!).  Luckily I only had to cross two of the
  three bridges, since the third one crossed an area of muck that was only
  boot-top deep and I was able to get through the vegetation and around
  the bridge through the muck.  Then my feet looked like they belonged to
  the creature from the black lagoon! [Note: bridges due for replacement
  in 2003.]

  The temperature was up to about 65 by 1:30 when I stopped for lunch near
  a pretty, large, irregularly shaped sinkhole next to the trail.  The sun
  was shining and the birds were in full force again today, with many huge
  flocks of robins flushing and then settling in the trees again.  Some nice
  hiking again after lunch, and by 4:30 I was at the road crossing where my
  daughter would meet me, so I leaned my pack against the Florida National
  Scenic Trail signpost, plopped down on the ground, and caught up on my
  journal while I waited for her.

  I had wanted to do this 45-mile hike through the Refuge for many years,
  had several group hikes fall through, finally decided to do it on my
  own, got my permit, got organized, and was really excited about doing it.
  If I can solve the one equipment problem, I'll get back down there one of
  these days.
  	-- eArThworm

Linda L. Patton, Reference Librarian, Strozier Library, Florida State Univ.
      Tallahassee, FL 32306-2047 (850)644-5019 lpatton@mailer.fsu.edu
          "A world without wilderness is a cage." -- David Brower