Trail Journal

Date: February 01 2001
Trail Day: 246
Miles Today: 21
Location: Bradwell Bay
Section Mile: FNST 280
ECT Mile: 3741

Had a deer stomp and snort at me last night. Got a slightly late start. Started hiking and reached FR 176 soon. I had walked farther yesterday than I had thought. Much of the trail has blow downs. Took a lunch break at Porter Lake and continued on into Bradwell Bay. This place is named after a hunter who got lost here for several days. It is a big swamp. The guide says if the ditches along the approaching forest roads are dry then the hike is "likely to be a pleasant one". It also says that this area is not suitable for first time hikers.

The ditches along the road are filled with recent rain, so I entered it with some apprehension. Initially the swamps were small. Then there was a section that was about half a mile long and was non-stop swamp. It had large cypress trees. My feet went numb and water came up to my crotch in some places. I slipped and slid in a few places. Every once in a while I thought of alligators. Sure makes it interesting.

After the big swamp there were a couple of quarter mile or shorter ones. I was hoping to get to a camp site shown on the map but could not make it. Reached some dry area and decided to stop for the night. The place is completely covered with thigh high titi shrubs. Flattened a small area and set up tarp. Feeling somewhat lonely. This rarely happens to me. Maybe its because of a fairly long hard day, not knowing where I am and being right in the middle of a large swamp. Watched the moon and clouds drifting by.

Date: February 02 2001
Trail Day: 247
Miles Today: 25
Location: Near Medway
Section Mile: FNST 305
ECT Mile: 3766

I was quite hungry last night. Thought of the good food at Dave Farley's place during Thanks Giving. I have been living on crackers the past 2 days. Decided to start early as I have a 25 mile day to Medway and food.

There were a few more swamps after which the trail was quite dry. Some of the areas were beautiful with pine stands. Today is also my 3rd consecutive day of putting on wet socks and shoes.

Got to Medway and bought lots of food. Took it back to the trail and ate it. Set up camp in a nice area. Tomorrow I go back to the store for breakfast.

Date: February 03 2001
Trail Day: 248
Miles Today: 21
Location: Shell Island motel, St. Marks
Section Mile: FNST 326
ECT Mile: 3787

Had breakfast at the store in Medway. The trail continued to be good and well marked. They have had prescribed burns in a lot of places. So a lot of places are charred.

One section ran close to a bay - very interesting, peaceful and quiet. Then a section that looked like old growth forests. Large shady trees. Old growth forests have a richness that is hard to explain. Stood and enjoyed the scenery in several places almost not daring to breathe.

Day started out slow as I sang and explored my way along. Then decided to speed up. Saw 6 day hikers. Long time since this has happened.

St. Marks wild life refuge also had mature forests. Saw 2 armadillos and 3 young deer. Armadillos can be very noisy for their size.

Had dinner at a gas station and continued on the rail to the trail section to St. Marks and the motel there. Very tired today - My shoes are now falling apart. I need to get new ones as soon as possible. No phone in this motel - somewhat expensive at 42 $.

Date: February 04 2001
Trail Day: 249
Miles Today: 21
Location: FTA crew cabin, Tallahasee
Section Mile: FNST 347
ECT Mile: 3808

Slept like a log last night. My shoes are in very bad shape and are causing blisters making hiking painful.

Saw Nomad at the dock when I went to pay for the motel. The motel is located away from town and there are no stores nearby. Hiked to St. Mark's river and had 2 candy bars for breakfast and got a ride across the river.

The hike started slowly. Nomad and I took our time. Also went up a lookup tower and got a shot.

Saw numerous alligators today. Took a shot. Also saw 3 raccoons. This area is very good for wildlife viewing. Good for exploring leisurely with some binoculars.

Met Jim Davis "Restless" about half way through the hike. He is a crew leader for this seciton. He had cold beer in his pack ! Enjoyed it. The 3 of us talked for a while and started hiking towards US 98. Some of the hike was on dikes and some was through old forests - beautiful.

Met Wild Flamingo Man. He is attempting a north bound ECT hike. Looks like there are about 10 attempting it this year. This ECT thing is picking up.

Restless drove us back to the crew trailer. Took a shower and had a good spaghetti and meatball dinner. Then we went shoe shopping and I bought some shoes. Glad to be out of the old ones.

Date: February 05 2001
Trail Day: 250
Miles Today: 0
Location: FTA crew cabin, Tallahassee
Section Mile: FNST 347
ECT Mile: 3808

Took a O day. Helped out the crew hauling wood to the bridge sites. This is hard work. Got a good appreciation of some of the work that goes on behind developing and maintaining a trail.

Went to an FTA meeting and one of the members Herbert bought us our dinners. Came back somewhat late and slept.

Date: February 06 2001
Trail Day: 251
Miles Today: 16
Location: Aucillo River
Section Mile: FNST 363
ECT Mile: 3824

We said our good byes to Restless and the crew. Restless dropped us off at the trail. Had lunch at a store on our roadwalk. There was a notice offering 1000$ reward for anyone who had information on the person who stole the owner's vehicle.

Then started the trail along the Aucilla river. This is an amazing river that sinks and rises frequently. Its awesome to watch a good sized river disappear completely.

We decided to stop a little early. I was very tired and fell asleep as soon as I lay down.

Date: February 07 2001
Trail Day: 252
Miles Today: 21
Location: Gandy Motel, Perry
Section Mile: FNST 384
ECT Mile: 3845

Lots of dew in the morning and quite chilly. Completed the section along the Aucilla River and started the forest road walk across the Foley company land. Quite boring and uneventful. The day was hot.

Tried to get a ride on SR 20 with no luck. Walked about 5 miles to a rest area and called a taxi. Very tired and demoralized.

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