Trail Journal

Date: February 15 2001
Trail Day: 260
Miles Today: 14
Location: Swanee River, Near I-75
Section Mile: FNST 471
ECT Mile: 3932

Bought grocery for a day and got an early start. The trail in this section runs along the Suwanee river. The day went quickly. Stopped near a beach area and slept in the open.

Saw 2 rattlers today. I have not seen snakes for may be 6 months. The first was a little one - about 1.5 ft long and about .75 " in diameter. Saw the second one on a heap of trash. I went over to see what stuff was in the trash when I saw this big snake - 4 ft long and 4 " thick. Took shots. It then slithered away and made its rattling noise. Now I know what a rattler sounds like.

Date: February 16 2001
Trail Day: 261
Miles Today: 7
Location: Suwanee Motel, White Springs.
Section Mile: FNST 478
ECT Mile: 3939

I had a bad case of diarrhea last night with bad stomach aches. Felt weak the whole day. Could barely manage the 7 miles into White Springs. Had to take several breaks.

Saw two groups of scouts. The original plan was to do the 15 miles but I am in no shape to do so. Decided to take a motel room. Mailed stuff to Vivek, Suriyan and Kumar. Got some groceries and fell asleep for most of the day.

Date: February 17 2001
Trail Day: 262
Miles Today: 0
Location: Suwanee Motel, White Springs
Section Mile: FNST 478
ECT Mile: 3939

A zero day. Feeling better today and should be back on the trail tomorrow.

Went to the library to check email. Best Man, whom I met in Maine or New Hampshire has signed the guest book. I hope his IAT hike went well. H. Monster has also signed in. He's an interesting guy. Glad to hear from both of them. Hi Best Man and H. Monster.

Date: February 18 2001
Trail Day: 263
Miles Today: 16
Location: Osceola forest, FS 237
Section Mile: FNST 494
ECT Mile: 3955

I think I have fully recovered. Back on the trail. A few miles along the Suwanee River. This section has a lot of trash and is poorly maintained. Then road walks to the Osceola forest. Most of the road names shown on the map are wrong. However, there are double blazes at all the turns.

Had lunch at Milton's store. Really loved their potatoes. Bought another meal and ice cream to carry with me. Stopped about 1.5 miles inside the forest. Also saw a black snake today - about 5 ft. All the 3 snakes I have seen in the recent past have been sunning on the trail. Need to watch out for such places.

Finished reading Thomas Hardy's Sussex Tales. Really liked Three Strangers, The distracted preacher and the The Sorrowful Legion of Hussar. I had got a book from the White Springs library - Louis L'Amour. I don't like action or thrill novels. But that's all they had in the swap rack. I have now read about a third of it. Book's called "The Sacketts" - its OK.

Sleeping in the open tonight. I think I have also gained weight in Florida as the hiking is easier. Not able to eat as much also. I need to cut down the binges. Tomorrow my attempt at a hitch hike into Lake City to pick my mail drop. I have chosen a smaller road to do so thereby increasing my chances. Drivers have been friendly and are aware of hikers. So I think it should not be very difficult. Let's see.

Date: February 19 2001
Trail Day: 264
Miles Today: 10
Location: Motel, Lake City
Section Mile: FNST 504
ECT Mile: 3965

Short day today. The trail in Osceola National Forest is disappointing. Sections are poorly maintained and most of it runs on jeep roads.

Saw a raccoon run up a tree on hearing me approach. Took a shot. Tried to get a ride and got one after about 2 hours. Very little traffic on SR 250. One truck stopped and the driver wanted to know if I was broke. He offered 5 $.

Tomorrow, I pick up my last set of trail maps !

Date: February 20 2001
Trail Day: 265
Miles Today: 1
Location: Shelter, Osceola forest
Section Mile: FNST 505
ECT Mile: 3966

Got some passport photos made. Looks like they need photos for the Indian reservation in the Cypress forest. My face seems to be almost all hair.

Went to the library to check email. Got an email from Kumar. This is his best written letter so far. About a year ago his emails would be full of spelling and grammatical mistakes. There would be no coherence or rhythm to it. So this one knocked me for a loop. I wonder if he has been kidnapped and is sending such a letter to indicate that something is wrong. I have to keep a close eye on this :-)

Also bought Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance and George Orwell's 1984. I was extremely happy to find the Zen book. I have been looking for it for a while.

Picked up my mail drop. It also contains my cooking stuff. But I have lost all interest in cooking. So I have sent it on to Suriyan and he will bring it with him when he joins me. I also have maps for the rest of the FT now.

Had to walk about 5 miles or so before I got a ride. Decided to stop at the shelter 1 mile on the trail. This is one of only 3 shelters on the entire FT.

4 backpackers joined me about 2 hours later. They were Joan, Florence, Larry and ---. They are out on a 9 day hike and have 1 more day to go. Joan is the author of the Florida Thru-Hiker's guide. She has thru-hiked the FT twice. It was nice to meet all of them.

Date: February 21 2001
Trail Day: 266
Miles Today: 17
Location: Near Black Creek Rd
Section Mile: FNST 522
ECT Mile: 3983

Walked with the group for a while. I got a little ahead of them and waited for them near their cars. I think they must have taken a break because they did not show up for 10 minutes or so. I decided to continue.

The southern section of the Osceola Forest is good. Started the Georgia-Pacific section. I thought it would all be forest road walk. It was much better than that. Most of the roads were very old and narrow and some where proper trails.

Met Ed Talone. He is also attempting an ECT thru-hike. He knows a lot about trails and is a man of firm opinion.

Decided to set up tarp as I felt a few drops of rain.

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