Trail Journal

Date: March 24 2001
Trail Day: 297
Miles Today: 0
Location: Vivek's place, W. Palmbeach
Section Mile: FNST 976
ECT Mile: 4437

O Day. Got some clothes and a day pack from my storage. I am now switching to a day pack. My car also started up with some hesitation. I was very glad. Accompanied Vivek for an ultrasound at a hospital. No serious problems. We were relieved.

We went to an Indian restaurant for dinner with Lusia's dad. He's funny and cracked several jokes. Here's one -

A chemist, a mechanical engineer and chemical engineer are at lunch. The mechanical engineer examines something small between his finger and thumb. The other two get curious. The chemist takes it in his hand examines it but cannot figure out what it is. The chemical engineer then takes it, rolls it, looks at it closely but is puzzled. They then ask the mechanical engineer what it is. He says - Oh its nothing - just a booger I just picked.

Date: March 25 2001
Trail Day: 298
Miles Today: 17
Location: L2 Canal
Section Mile: FNST 993
ECT Mile: 4454

Got back on the trail at about 11:30 AM. The canal is long, straight and boring. No trees anywhere to offer shade.

A family living there gave me some iced tea and food. It was hot and the iced tea was refreshing.

I now have about 250 miles left - slightly more than 5%. I will be done with the FT in another 5 days. I hope to be done with the ECT on April 10th or so.

Mosquitoes galore tonight. Not possible to sleep without a mosquito net.

Date: March 26 2001
Trail Day: 299
Miles Today: 16
Location: Near Billie Swamp Safari
Section Mile: FNST 1009
ECT Mile: 4470

Continued along the canal and then a roadwalk. Talked to an Indian (American) for a while. He was driving a jeep and stopped on the road and started chatting - very friendly. Looks like the Seminoles are the richest tribes in North America.

Ate lunch at a restaurant - quite good. Then went to Billie Swamp Safari - very expensive and touristy. Camping - 15 $. So decided to move on. Got a lot of time to read.

Date: March 27 2001
Trail Day: 300
Miles Today: 18
Location: Near I-75 rest area
Section Mile: FNST 1027
ECT Mile: 4488

300th day on the trail. Third last on the FNST. About 200 miles left to complete the rest.

A few more miles of road walk and trail switched to a dirt road. Became quite remote then. Lots of wild life - alligators, deer and fish. Saw an animal run away - could be a Panther although it was somewhat short. Also entered into a staring contest with a deer. Lasted about 10 minutes and then it walked away. Sridhar - 1, deer - 0. There are small pools with a good number of fish in them. Watched them for a while.

It was dirt road walk all the way to I-75. Got some junk food and went back to the trail and settled in for the night.

Date: March 28 2001
Trail Day: 301
Miles Today: 18
Location: 10 Mile camp
Section Mile: FNST 1045
ECT Mile: 4506

Today's hike was through the Big Cypress Forest - very remote with very few dirt roads cutting it. I had been told there was no water for about 25 miles and was carrying 2 bottles of water. The day was hot and I finished both of them by noon. There was a broken pump near a campsite with a long plastic tube nearby. Figured out that by opening a valve, putting the tube into the hole and sucking on it, I could get water. It was a big relief. This area is supposed to be all swamp but is now dry.

Had picked up food from the rest area before starting off for 3 days. Its all junk jood and am now sick of it.

Turned out to be a long and tiring day. Was very glad when it was over.

Date: March 29 2001
Trail Day: 302
Miles Today: 17
Location: FT terminus, Loop Road
Section Mile: FNST 1062
ECT Mile: 4523

I was very thirsty all night. Twice I dreamt of drinking - once just water and then coconut milk. It rained in the morning and I collected the water flowing from my tarp and drank it - 2 gulps. I had set up tarp for shade, not expecting rain and found water on my ground sheet in the morning. Walked most day with a dry mouth.

Started out very early. The miles went quickly. Data points came well before I started looking for them. Finally got to the ranger station and drank about 40 ounces in one shot. Then drank another 40 over breakfast. I am also very short on food and need a proper meal. I can barely eat the junk food I have.

Came to a campsite with a pump. Suriyan would have loved it. Bathed. But its not the same if you have to pump it yourself. Suriyan would have bathed with relish. Certainly missed my brothers today.

Got to the terminus of the FT today. It ends with a whimper. Doesn't even say its the terminus. The Hike for Hope bunch have left their names scratched on the bulletin board. I wish they wouldn't do this grafitti. They are supposed to be hiking for a good cause. They can start by being more responsible. I have also seen their fliers littering the trail at several places.

Anyway, took some shots at the trail end. So its been the International Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail, Benton Mackaye trail, Georgia Pinhoti Trail, Alabama Pinhoti Trail, Florida Alabama Roadwalk, Florida Trail and now the Key West roadwalk. Another 200 miles to go. I was thinking of walking along some canals but am quite sick of them now. A roadwalk sounds better now. At least I'll get some food.

Big Cypress NF is a good section to hike in. They are blazing it now. They are doing a thorough job. The older stuff is barely adequate.

Date: March 30 2001
Trail Day: 303
Miles Today: 25
Location: Tamiami Canal, near S333 lock
Section Mile: KWR 25
ECT Mile: 4548

Walked along Loop road. The canal is thick with alligators. There should be one every 50 feet or so. Saw several otters. Took a shot of one of them.

Had 2 rangers stop me and run a check on my ID. The second was a very good looking woman. Its amazing that I never had my ID checked when I was on the trail and now the very next day they have done it.

Had lunch at Mikassookee restaurant. I havent eaten properly in 3 days and was ravenous. The first taste of food and sip of beer were out of this world. Tried to get an idea of what stores and motels are along the way. Got highly contradictory information. Looks like here people drive with their eyes closed.

First day of the Key West Roadwalk (KWR). I will try and stay in a motel tomorrow. I need to eat and drink a lot more to get back into balance. Nearly done reading 'Of Human Bondage'. Its supposed to be an autobiographical work. I wonder if the author hasn't distorted many of the events. Its a powerful book nonetheless.

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