Date: March 16 2001
Trail Day: 289
Miles Today: 18
Location: Near S-65D lock
Section Mile: FNST 885
ECT Mile: 4346
Last night was cool. A good chunk of today's hike was thru new trail. At one point Kumar tried to wade a bog and went hip deep in the water unexpectedly. It was comical to watch him try to plod out of the water.
Took a half hour break near a grape fruit tree in Hickory Hammock. I never knew grape fruits could taste so good. Also saw another yellow snake with black stripes - about 4 feet long.
Then came a railroad walk for about 9 miles which we completed in 2 miles sections. Kumar and Suriyan are now in trail shape although Kumar now has a cold.
Saw 2 AMTRAK and 2 freight trains go by.
There was a point where we found a small potato like vegetable. I took one along thinking I will check it out once I get home after the hike. I completely forgot that I was on a thru-hike. It felt strange.
We have also entered the last county of our group hike. We are now winding it down. Tomorrow a 15 miler and then 11 miles into Okeechobee where we will check into a motel room and clean up.
Date: March 17 2001
Trail Day: 290
Miles Today: 15
Location: Near Paradis Run EMA
Section Mile: FNST 900
ECT Mile: 4361
Picked up some water from S-65 B lock. The walk thru Yates Marsh WMA was good. There was a motorized pump. Bathed and took a break. I have been bathing a lot the past week because of my brothers.
Some more roadwalk on CR 599. We picked up some oranges that were growing along the way. Reached S-65 E lock. I asked the lock keeper if there were any soda machines. He said no and disappeared. He then reappeared with 3 cokes. It felt great. It was very hot.
Another 3 miles and our hike was over. Suriyan and me took a dip in the river. Kumar has a cold and is sneezing a lot. We also fished for a while but had no luck. Started raining heavily and the temperatures dropped a lot. Went form feeling hot to feeling cold. This is a very popular fishing hole.
We played Crazy 8, ate dinner and slept. It rained a little at night.
Date: March 18 2001
Trail Day: 291
Miles Today: 9
Location: Budget Inn, Okeechobee
Section Mile: FNST 909
ECT Mile: 4370
A short hike today. We carried no food or water. We were in Okeechobee by 11 AM and got a motel by 1 PM.
Had dinner at Golden Corral. The group hike is now over. I had been fearing reentering society and was planning an India trip and visiting my friends and relatives across the US. But the group hike has been a good transition and the Keys roadwalk should complete it. I won't be doing the travelling I had planned.
I have another 20 days remaining of the hike. I meet Vivek in 5 days, complete the FT in another week and then the entire hike in another 10 days. The hike has been a blast which I will let go reluctantly.
Date: March 19 2001
Trail Day: 292
Miles Today: 0
Location: Paradise Inn, Orlando
Section Mile: FNST 909
ECT Mile: 4370
My brothers original plan was to take a bus or train back to Orlando. The train was way too early while the bus did not go near the airport. Looking at the costs and convenience, renting a car was a better option. We did that and drove to Orlando.
Had food at an Indian restaurant and then saw the movie 'Down to Earth'. The movie was just tolerable. It rained heavily all day. Florida needs it. I am also glad to be off the trail for that reason. Then dropped them off at the Orlando airport. The past 10 days just flew by. It seems as though it was ages ago we met near Beeline Expressway. Certainly going to miss them.
Had Carribean food for dinner and settled in for the night. I am now starting to think about getting back into a job. It doesn't seem so horrible now.
Date: March 20 2001
Trail Day: 293
Miles Today: 23
Location: St. Lucie Canal, Port Mayaca
Section Mile: FNST 932
ECT Mile: 4393
Drove to Okeechobee and returned the rental car. Walked to Lake okkechobee. Picked up groceries and had breakfast near Henry canal.
Fairly uneventful day - decided to stop after 16 miles. But when I got there, it looked like it would rain. There was no place to set up my tarp because they have removed all trees from both sides of the dike. Tried a spot between two palm trees about a mile further. But the wind was so strong my stakes would not hold. Walked furter. No trees anywhere. Made it all the way to Port Mayaca. Set up tarp near a vehicle barrier.
Date: March 21 2001
Trail Day: 294
Miles Today: 15
Location: Best Western, W. Palmbeach
Section Mile: FNST 947
ECT Mile: 4408
It was quite cold and windy last night. The tarp got blown all over the place. Every once in a while a stake would be pulled out and I would have to refix it.
Continued the levee walk. Got to the place where Kumar and I had started our 10 day hike north about a year ago. Took a shot at the same place. Started raining a little. I put on the raincover for my pack. The wind was strong. I thought it would tear the cover. Walked near the water to cut out some of the wind.
I had a good lunch and ice cream at Pahokee. On the spur of the moment I decided to take the bus into W. Palmbeach. After a transfer it took me to where I used to live. Got a motel room for 89$ (without tax). The room is not worth it but its spring break.
I was also surprised at how little attachment I had to where I used to live less than a year ago. I have felt a greater feeling of belonging at hostels where I have spent just one night. I wonder why.
Date: March 22 2001
Trail Day: 295
Miles Today: 16
Location: John Stretch Park, Lake Okeechobee
Section Mile: FNST 963
ECT Mile: 4424
Talked to Vivek and finalized the meeting place. Then took the bus back to Pahokee. Had luch at an authentic Mexican place. Good food although the place looks like a dump. It was about 1 PM by the time I hit the trail.
Walked with very short breaks to well past sunset. Saw some sky divers land on the levee. Took some shots. Had dinner and slept.