Trail Journal

Date: January 4 2001
Trail Day: 218
Miles Today: 25
Location: Near US 31 & CR 30
Section Mile: FAR 169
ECT Mile: 3312

Got an early start. I was up even before the sun. The water bottle was almost all frozen. So I am guessing the temperature went to 25 F or so. It was a bright and beautiful day. I had to take off one of my jackets and gloves in a couple of hours.

There is a fleet of trucks that is hauling timber. The drivers had seen me all day yesterday and today. They have started waving at me.

About noon I heard some noises behind and saw a big german sheperd. I tried to drive it away, but it kept following me. I realized it was lost. It came to me when I took a break. It was quite frightened. I tied a string to its collar and walked it to Greensville. It always stayed very close to me. I am quite surprised he hadn't been run over. US 31 is a fairly busy and fast road.

Got to a gas station and asked the cashier to call the number given on the tag. The owner came and picked it up in about 15 mintues.

Walked another 5 miles and found a good spot similiar to yesterdays. Since the terrain has become flat its easier to find good spots. The only problem now is some areas are too thick with vegetation to camp.

Date: January 5 2001
Trail Day: 219
Miles Today: 30
Location: Near Wilcox
Section Mile: FAR 199
ECT Mile: 3342

Got an early start again. Over night temp again 25 F or so. I can still see ponds etc. partially frozen. Continued walking on US 31. Saw a post office in Chapman. I have not been able to bounce my stove and related cooking stuff since Anniston because I have no seen a post office or its been a holiday. Finally saw one today. Also mailed another set of journal entries to Suriyan.

Was stopped by a police officer. He asked for my id and ran a check on it. I wonder if they are allowed to stop people minding their own business and harass them. I know I'm in Alabama - the backwaters of civilization, but still. The cop had no tact. No wonder the local people hate cops.

Had lunch in Georgiana. Had fried Creole chicken - spicy. Enjoyed it. Got another order for dinner. Filled up my water bottle and decided to walk the CSX railroad to Evergreen. I have been heading south west and paralleling I-65 since Montgomery. I use US-31 and the railroad. From Brewton I will head south using roads to Pensacola. I should be in Florida on Jan 7 and in Pensacola on Jan 9. However its supposed to rain Sunday. I will have to see how badly I get wet and how cold it gets.

Today was a beautiful day. I had to take off both my jackets. The railroad is fairly active and I saw 3 trains go by. They are loud, but I love to watch trains go by.

Date: January 6 2001
Trail Day: 220
Miles Today: 25
Location: 3 miles South of Castleberry
Section Mile: FAR 224
ECT Mile: 3367

Overnight temperature was slightly below freezing. There was ice on my tarp. You can get a mini-snowfall in your tarp. Here's how - the breath condenses on the tarp and turns to little ice particles. Once enough of them accumulate they fall down like snow.

The day turned out to be hot. I had to take off both my jackets - At one point I was even day dreaming about a dip in the pool ! How quickly things change.

Today's hike - a stretch along the CSX railroad where I saw one train stop for another travelling in the opposite direction and then move on. I had to stop just before a bridge and as the first train came to a halt it took a long time. Then came a road hike from Evergreen to Castleberry. Had lunch in Evergreen. I am now seeing a good number of Florida license plates even though I am about 25 miles from Florida. The reason - all traffic going to Pensacola has to get off I-65 and go by this road. Evergreen is a nice, tidy town. Most towns in Alabama including Montgomery have been quite run down. Evergreen was a good change. Here's another thing I have noticed all the way from Cap Gaspe. Areas that are backward and poor have numerous churches. I wonder about the cause and effect on this one.

Dinner at Castleberry and then back on the CSX track. Saw 2 trains go by.

Tomorrow I should be in Florida. I asked a local guy and he said the weather is supposed to warm up with no rain for the next 5 days. Thats good news. Tonight I sleep in the open. I haven't done this in several months.

Also a little experiment I did with railroad tracks. As children we had been told that you can hear a train approaching by listening to the tracks. The rationale was sound travelled better in solids. Not true. I listened to the tracks with the train about half mile away. Couldn't hear it on the tracks but you could clearly hear the train approaching.

Also both of my tips on the poles have failed. The grip is now poor. Need to be replaced in Pensacola.

Its getting dark with a three-quarter moon. It has become quiet. Time to sleep.

Date: January 7 2001
Trail Day: 221
Miles Today: 30
Location: Rte 87 and Rte 4
Section Mile: FAR 254
ECT Mile: 3397

Got an early start. Continued walking the CSX line to Brewton. It was a busy time for trains - saw 5 in about 3 hours. Had lunch in Brewton. It was 67 F ! The day was somewhat cloudy. From Brewton took Rte 87 towards Milton. Stopped at the junction with Rte 4. Had dinner at the convenience store. The owner said I could tent nearby.

Also a major day. Crossed into Florida, my eighteenth and last state. Took a photo at the border. So here it is for the last time - Quebec, New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, W. Virginia, Virginia, Tenessee, N. Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. However, Florida will be the longest state with about 1400 miles.

They are predicting rain and a drop in temeperature for the next few days. Could not find a good place to tie my line. Had to tie one end to the bark of a large tree. I was amazed at how strong the bark was.

Rte 87 seems to be a good road - broad with not heavy traffic, good shoulders and a store every 10 miles or so. Tomorrow to Milton and then to Pensacola. I think I will take 2 zero days in Pensacola.

Date: January 8 2001
Trail Day: 222
Miles Today: 22
Location: Emerald Sands Inn, Milton
Section Mile: FAR 276
ECT Mile: 3419

It got very windy and rainy last night and I was afraid my sleeping bag would get wet. In the woods there is a thick layer of leaves on the ground that absorbs the water. This place was hard ground. Had to readjust the stakes as the wind picked up. Stayed totally dry though.

Had breakfast at the store. The owner offered me 20 $. She's a sweet heart. Must have broken her heart to see me in my pathetically set up tarp.

Continued on Rte 87. Quite uneventful. As I entered Milton a police officer stopped and checked my ID and took down my address, social security number etc. This is getting old fast.

Had dinner at Wendy's and got a room for the night.

Date: January 9 2001
Trail Day: 223
Miles Today: 20
Location: Howard Johnson, Pensacola
Section Mile: FAR 296
ECT Mile: 3439

A 20 mile roadwalk into Pensacola. Was stopped by cops again. There are several bridges over a bay. That was nice. Got to the airport to get a rental car. I will be taking several O days here.

Date: January 10 2001
Trail Day: 224
Miles Today: 0
Location: Howard Johnson, Pensacola
Section Mile: FAR 296
ECT Mile: 3439

Zero day today.

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