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[ft-l] Etonia Trip Report

10 of us FTA types had a great time up on Etonia Creek (west of Palatka)
this weekend.  8 of us from Halifax-St. Johns (including Max, the
backpacking Dalmatian) and 2 from Indian River.

Linda and Bill Taylor and I went up Friday night so we could dead-head a
couple of cars early Saturday morning before the rest of the crew showed up.
I was running late but managed to get there about 10 minutes before Linda
who was about 10 minutes ahead of Bill.  We parked in the Holloway Road
trailhead lot and, as it was already dark, we just pitched the tents there
next to the fence.  As we drove in on Holloway road you could smell smoke
and about 8 pm a small pumper truck sped by, followed shortly by two more
fire engines and 10 or so vehicles with volunteer firemen.  About 5 minutes
later they all came back and seeing us there, stopped to ask if we had seen
fire.  We told them about smelling smoke, but they said that was probably
due to a fire a couple of days before.  They milled around there by the
trailhead, some of the cars making a few more runs up and down the road
while the fire trucks waited.  Max was taking it all in, very excited about
the flashing lights and horns.  I offered to loan him to the fire dept, but
didn't get any takers.  He would look SO GOOD riding on the top of their red
trucks!  After 30 minutes or so they decided to pack it in and left us once
again to the dark night.   After all that excitement we drifted off to
sleep, disturbed only be the incessent barking of a hound on a neighboring

Saturday morning the three of us took two trucks down to Carroway (sp?)
Church Road and left them at the gate, returning to Holloway Road just in
time to greet Marg & Jack McCabe and June & Joe Vincent.   Fran Philp and
Vicki Briesacher joined us just a bit after 9 am.  At last we were all
together and, after signing in at the register, set off into the woods.  The
weather Saturday was gorgeous, just right for hiking.  A little on the cool
to keep you from getting all sweaty and partly cloudy.  Our only
disappointmet was that we were a little early for the wild azaleas which
fill the ravine with color.  We saw a few bushes which were just about to
pop open with bloom, but missed the height of the color by about 2 weeks,
I'd guess.  We took a little break at Syma's campsite along a ravine and
stopped for lunch at the hunters camp where there was a picnic table along
Etonia Creek.  From there it was only a short distance to our camp, again
along the Creek.  After setting up the tents, we gathered and talked and
generally had a good time getting to know each other.  The mosquitos came
out in force about 8 so we retired to our tents, hoping that the rain would
hold off.

Max woke me at 6:00 the next morning and when I peeked out of the tent I was
grateful that the rain had not started yet.  But it looked like it could
start at any minute.  I got up and fixed Max breakfast then ate my own as I
was getting my tent down and packed (Nothing I hate worse than striking a
tent in the rain.)  By the time I was packed Bill was up and we awakened the
others, warning them that they probably would be better off packing up
first, then making breakfast if it didn't start raining.  By 7:30 we were
all on the trail again as the first sprinkles hit.  We had only three miles
to do and the first mile was lovely, walking along the creek.  In several
places the dogwoods were blooming, which made up for missing the wild
azaleas.  The last two miles were along a sand road.  At least the rain made
the road less dusty, but we were all soaked and sand-caked by the time we
hit the trucks.

We shuttled people back to Holloway Road for their cars then caravaned into
the Golden Corral in Palatka for Sunday Brunch.  The fitting end to a nice
weekend.  Oh, and Max had a great time!  He slept all the way home and is
still sleeping as I write this.

Trail Report - this section needs some maintainance.  Nothing major, just
lots of lopping and a little pick up.  And some more blazes.  The Thrusday
work crew has been up there once recently and may make it up there again
this spring and I know an all-Chapter work hike has been called for the
fall.  It's a beautiful hike but be prepared to watch the blazes carefully
(checking back blazes helps) and  long pants or high gaiters would help
prevent scratches from the saw palemettos.   My calves look like I've been
attacked by a very short Edward Scizzorhands!  A short but highly
weekend hike, especially in the spring when the wild azaleas and dogwoods
are in bloom.


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