Trail Journal

Date: January 18 2001
Trail Day: 232
Miles Today: 23
Location: Rte 85 Near Trail
Section Mile: FNST 70
ECT Mile: 3531

I had camped near the road and could hear the traffic all night long. It did not rain much. Continued the road walk towards Niceville. Had a good breakfast. Picked up food for 4 days. Went to Jackson Guard for a permit to hike in the Eglin Air Force base. The lady was very incompetent. First she issued me a permit, then a camping permit. Then she said since I was going to be in the base for only a few days I did not need the permit. So she voided it. In the meantime the computer locked up and she had to reboot. I got the camping permit and continued on. On the way I read some of the instructions with the map and it looks like I do need the permit. Now some ranger will stop me and wont believe me when I say that it was the lady's fault.

It was a long walk from Niceville to the trail head. On entering the woods I realized how much I had missed it. I have been doing road walks for the past month or so. Decided to camp near a creek.

Date: January 19 2001
Trail Day: 233
Miles Today: 22
Location: Unknown Place, Eglin
Section Mile: FNST 92
ECT Mile: 3553

The trail today was well maintained and marked. A pleasure to hike. It rained almost all day. Did not see anyone. Saw a deer run away. The trail paralleled I-10 for a long time. I can hear the sounds of traffic from I-10.

Never saw the sun and had no idea what the time was all day.

Date: January 20 2001
Trail Day: 234
Miles Today: 24
Location: Near Springs De Funiak
Section Mile: FNST 116
ECT Mile: 3577

It rained off and on last night. Became very cold later at night. I had started sleeping with just my shorts but had to start putting on more clothes later at night. Waited for it to stop raining in the morning and got back into my wet clothes from yesterday. The shoes were still very wet and my feet went numb.

I tried keeping my feet dry in the creek crossings hoping my socks and shoes would dry out. At about the third creek crossing I stepped from one log to another precariously, lost balance and stepped right into the deepest portion of the creek with both feet. My shoes and socks got thoroughly wet. Creek crossings became much easier after that because I did not have to bother about where I stepped. Its amazing how simple things can become under the right conditions.

As I hiked along I came across the Alaqua creek. There was no way to cross it without wading. I was reading a marker attached to a tree and when I turned back I saw a deer in the middle of the creek trying to cross over to my side. I tried to get my pack off to take a photo and it started running along the creek with huge jumps in about 3 feet of water. It looked so helpless and pathetic that I was deeply touched and disturbed that people hunt such peaceful, helpless creatures.

Crossed the creek and had the water upto my hips. Looks like all the creeks are high because of yesterday's rains.

The last 6 miles were not blazed but were cut and had flags. Got to the second crossing of Alaqua. The trail ran parallel to the creek for about half a mile. It appeared to be big and deep. I got quite worried about crossing it as I knew the bridges in this section had not been built. The trail then led to a big tree that had fallen or was made to fall across the creek. It turned out to be my second scariest crossing on this trail. The first was in Canada when I thought I was going to be swept away. This one was tricky to cross with a backpack and I was extremely glad when I did. Took a shot of the creek.

The trail then led to a dirt road where the flags went in several directions. I tried to find the right one but finally gave up. Started to walk the dirt roads to US 331. I asked for directions from a hunter in a pickup truck and continued on.

As I was nearing US 331 a truck slows down from behind me and a guy asks me where I am hiking to. His name was Steve and he is the crew leader building the trails. He was there to pick up Nomad. He invited me to their camp for the night and I gladly accepted.

We drove around for a while to find Nomad and a crew of 4 he was hiking with. They were doing a 30+ mile hike thinking it was a 25 mile section. They finally showed up as it became dark.

We went to their quarters and ordered pizza and drank beer. I was glad to be indoors from the cold.

Date: January 21 2001
Trail Day: 235
Miles Today: 0
Location: Near Spring De Funiac
Section Mile: FNST 116
ECT Mile: 3577

The crew are college students. Their names are Andrew, Tom, --- and ---. There was also another gentleman named Butch. There was going to be a pot luck lunch by the Florida Trail Association. Me and Nomad decided to stay on for that and took a O day. It was really great seeing Nomad again.

The gathering was fun. Met a lot of interesting people. Ate a lot.

Date: January 22 2001
Trail Day: 236
Miles Today: 28
Location: Ebro
Section Mile: FNST 144
ECT Mile: 3605

Steve dropped us off at the trail at about 9 AM. We got to Freeport and had lunch. Continued on to Bruce. The map says there is a motel there. We found out that it was filled up with long term rentals. We continued on to Ebro and got a motel room.

Fairly uneventful, long day.

Date: January 23 2001
Trail Day: 237
Miles Today: 24
Location: Canonon Motel, Panama City
Section Mile: FNST 168
ECT Mile: 3629

The map that I have says there's a motel in Southport which would make for a 24 mile day. Nomad and I decided to go for it.

Pine Log State Forest is a beautiful park. It was also a beautiful, bright day. The water levels here are very low. After that we did a forest road walk through Moore's Pasture WMA. We reached SR 77 at about 4 PM and tried to get a ride. Two women with 3 children stopped after a while. They said there was no motel in Southport. But they gave us a ride till Panama city. (10 miles or so away). They also gave Nomad and me 5 $ each and promised to give a ride back tomorrow. More trail angels !

Had dinner at a Waffle shop.

Date: January 24 2001
Trail Day: 238
Miles Today: 18
Location: Econfina Creek
Section Mile: FNST 186
ECT Mile: 3647

Nomad and I got a ride back to the trail from the two ladies. They also bought us breakfast. Continued the roadwalk to SR 20. We met Luke Denton at SR 20. He is doing a north bound hike of the ECT. I had talked to his mother about a year ago when I was trying to find a partner to hike the IAT.

Another 4 miles or so on SR 20 and we came to a new trail along the Econfina creek. Sidney, a FTA volunteer met us at a camp and gave us directions for the rest of the trail.

Today was a slightly short day.

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