Trail Journal

Date: March 01 2001
Trail Day: 274
Miles Today: 16
Location: Near Juniper Springs
Section Mile: FNST 661
ECT Mile: 4122

Another quick day. Got an early start. Stopped at Hopkins Praire for a snack and journal entry. Talked to a girl from New Brunswick. Then stopped at Hidden Pond to take a swim and wash my clothes. Talked to a young couple from Texas who were filtering water. The woman seemed very shy - did not speak a word to me. Did not even make eye contact. Then stopped at Juniper Springs Recreation Area. There is a 3 $ entrance fee and the food is outrageously priced. Its also very yuppy touristy. Definitely not a place for thru-hiker. Tried called Vivek, Kumar and Suriyan. No luck any where. Its amazing - with all the phones, faxes, beepers, cell phones and emails its impossible to get in touch with anyone. Talked to Karen though. She is shocked that we will be hiking without underwear. This is normal practice as underwears chafe and can be extremely painful. Normally we use pants with a mesh inside that serves as underwear. She called in "going commando". I wonder if its standard usage.

Camping was 13$ - so decided to move on. Continued reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintainance. I have now crossed the section I have hiked the most - Juniper to Hopkins Prairie. It gives me the feeling that the hike is geting over. Felt very sad. I would be a wreck if I had to go back to "civilization" right now. I am glad I will be hiking with my brothers for a while and visiting Vivek. The Key West roadwalk should also be a good transition to the fake, empty world waiting for me.

I am also debating what to do with the 1 or 2 spare days I have. I am not in a motel mood but I need some supplies and get in touch with folks. I will decide soon.

Date: March 02 2001
Trail Day: 275
Miles Today: 24
Location: Near Clearwater Lake
Section Mile: FNST 685
ECT Mile: 4146

Forgot to put down that I started my tenth and last full month on the trail yesterday.

Long day today. I have almost no food. So I decided to hike all the way to Paisley at the southern end of the Ocala NF. The southern section is nice. I hiked all this about a year ago. This is also where I met my first thru-hikers. Sour dough Bob and Rambling Rose. Somehow it all seems ages ago. Much has happened since. Even the first 10 days or so up in Quebec seem far removed. It feels like a distant dream.

Saw 1 backbacker and a large male turkey fly away. Also several deer. I was very tired and thirsty when I got to Paisley. There is a good Italian restauraunt. Ate with relish. Bought 2 days food and left. Got to some sand roads and saw some children playing on trees. They shouted out "Are you a hippy who lives in the forest ?", "Are you a werewolf ?", "Are you a vampire bat ?". I guess hippy describes me best. Its not full moon, so I am not a werewolf. As for the vampire bat - that's a closely guarded secret.

A couple stopped in their van and talked to me for a while. Looks like Wild Flamingoman stayed with them. They read his journal entries about him meeting with Nomad and me. It was interesting. The ECT is definitely catching on.

Found a nice place to sleep in a pine stand. Area is crawling with raccoons.

Date: March 03 2001
Trail Day: 276
Miles Today: 19
Location: Near SR 46, Seminole SF
Section Mile: FNST 704
ECT Mile: 4165

Today was a mix of trail, dirt road and paved road. Saw numerous motor cyclists on SR 44. Its close to bike week. I used to have a motor cycle. I have dreamt of motor cycles several times. I think I may have to buy one again sometime. I miss it too much.

Seminole State Forest is beautiful. I was planning on stopping at the shelter. This is one of only 2 shelters on the FT. I was hoping to pick up water couple of miles before it but never saw a water source. I was totally out of water and the shelter is a horrible one, so I decided to continue.

Got bottled water from some day hikers near the entrance to the Seminole SF. Continued reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance. I have read it before and remember it to be a very good book. Does not appear so now. I wonder what's different in my two readings.

Date: March 04 2001
Trail Day: 277
Miles Today: 22
Location: Econo Lodge, Orlando
Section Mile: FNST 726
ECT Mile: 4187

Started entering the very new suburbs of Orlando. The trail blazes are absent in many areas. Had to make my best guess using the map. Looks like the trail shown on the map is wrong and the road names are wrong. so between the two, by noon I was thoroughly disoriented. Finally just decided to aim for US 17-92 which has bus service. Waited for a bus for sometime and then decided to get a cab to a motel. Very tired today.

Stuff that happened today :

Date: March 05 2001
Trail Day: 278
Miles Today: 0
Location: Days Inn, Orlando
Section Mile: FNST 726
ECT Mile: 4187

0 day. Moved to Days Inn.

Date: March 06 2001
Trail Day: 279
Miles Today: 0
Location: Days Inn, Orlando
Section Mile: FNST 726
ECT Mile: 4187

0 day

Date: March 07 2001
Trail Day: 280
Miles Today: 20
Location: Jon Phipps house, Oviedo
Section Mile: FNST 746
ECT Mile: 4207

Was hoping to get an early start but it didn't work that way. Missed the bus, waited half hour for another one. It stopped well short of where I wanted to go. Looks like I was on the "short" bus. Waited for the "long" one and go to where I wanted to be. Must have been 10 AM by the time I started. There is some confusion as to where Vivek's mail drop is going to. The guy at the post office told him the zip was wrong. So I have to stop at Oviedo and Chuluotta today. I have to make a certain number of miles to meet my brothers tomorrow. Hence the need for an early start.

The map continues to be poor. I ended up doing a very convoluted walk to find the trail. Its supposed to run along SR 419 but I could see no blazes. I could see where the abandoned railroad bed is though. Followed it to Crow - Seminole trail. This is paved and very popular with roller bladers and bicyclists. Numerous expensive houses on both sides.

Checked at the post office in Oviedo. No packages. Continued on into Little Big Econ State Forest. Met Rick Guhse and Karen. He is the chairman of the long distance comittee for the FTA. Took a photo of them. Talked for sometime.

Then onto Flagler trail. This is a very nice trail. Numerous bicyclists. Just as the trail came into Chuluotta I met Jon Phipps. I have heard of him from Joan Hobson. He drove me to the post office and I made it just in time. They had actually closed the window but opened it and gave me the package. I was very relieved.

Jon invited me to his house for the night and I readily accepted. Met his wife Joan and her son Greg. Had a good dinner. Jon has done the AT twice, the PCT and the FT. He's quite a veteran. He's going to do the AT this year starting April.

Very tired for some reason and fell sound asleep.

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