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.
Date: March 31 2001
Trail Day: 304
Miles Today: 15
Location: On Krome Ave, near N. Kendall Dr.
Section Mile: KWR 40
ECT Mile: 4563
Started off very early. Had breakfast at Coopertown. Peoples knowledge of facilities continues to be poor.
I was done with most of the hike by 10 AM. Got to the Mikassookee Gaming Resort. I am quite worn out and was ready for a motel day. But it was 99$ a night. Its good that its priced so outrageously. Makes making a decision very easy. Called Vivek and Mari. As usual could not get in touch with anyone. I am also very short on cash and many of these places dont take credit cards. I should not have cut it so fine cashwise in such a remote place. Anyway, the casino for obvious reasons has ATM machines at every turn. Withdrew money. It should now be good till the end of the hike.
Decided to continue on and cover some more miles putting me a days hike away from a hostel in Florida city. I may take a day off there. Now walking along Krome Ave (Rte 997). Not a safe road - narrow shoulders, heavy and fast traffic. However, there is a small canal besides the road with about a foot of water. Since, its very inconvenient to fish, its teeming with them. Spent some time watching them.
Came to a nice pine stand besides the road and decided to stop. Its getting difficult to find good camping spots.
Also saw the first road sign for Key West. It stated - 142 miles. It almost came as a shock to me. I know the hike is ending but it had not sunk in fully yet. I could be in the Keys in two and a half hiking days. April 10 still seems like a good finish date.
Date: April 01 2001
Trail Day: 305
Miles Today: 3
Location: Hotel Caribe, Homestead
Section Mile: KWR 43
ECT Mile: 4566
Started raining late night and had to set up tarp in the dark. I am also sleeping near where someone got killed in a traffic accident. Theres a cross marking the spot. I am well off the trees and very safe.
Went past numerous farms, nurseries and fruit stands. Had a breakfast of fruits, fruit drink and Tamales. I have never had Tamales - a little surprising because I usually try out all foods. Very slow day and could never get into the rhythm of the hike. Most people now speak exclusively Spanish. I know a few words of Spanish and am trying them out. I like Hispanics and their culture.
I was thinking of staying at the hostel, but need to call a lot of people. I also want to drink some beer, as the last week has been quite hard. Hostels have all kinds of restrictions so I decided not to go there.
Had lunch and dinner at a very good Mexican restaurant.
Date: April 02 2001
Trail Day: 306
Miles Today: 0
Location: Motel Caribe, Homestead
Section Mile: KWR 57
ECT Mile: 4580
0 day. Went to the library and made journal entries. Also bought 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte. Also bought my plane tickets to visit Suriyan. Day of rest.
Date: April 03 2001
Trail Day: 307
Miles Today: 19
Location: US 1, Mile Marker 110
Section Mile: KWR 76
ECT Mile: 4599
Had breakfast. My camera seems to be done for. The date keeps flickering. I bought another set of batteries but they did not help. Bought another disposable camera at Wal-Mart. These things are very light and compact. Only problem is they don't have the date imprint function or the timer function. Mailed my journals, compass, knife and camera to Suriyan. Also bought Greyhound tickets to Fayetteville, NC from Key West. By the time I started hiking it was close to noon.
Took a small break near a canal. Its now all salt water. After about 10 minutes I saw a blue crab, a small 9" barracuda, 3 little puffer fish, another big 1.5 ft fish and a school of possibly mullet. Also saw a large sting ray in another place.
Got quite hot towards the end. Finished off a 2 liter soda during the day and ended up thirsty near the end. No stores till tomorrow.
Very difficult to find a camping spot because the road corridor is fairly narrow and there is water immediately on both sides. My target was to get to Mile Marker (MM) 110. Almost on the dot there was a nice little spot that looked like a beach. Stopped and started reading Wuthering Heights. It was written in the the early 1800's and has long convoluted sentences. The bay is very active with fish.
Date: April 04 2001
Trail Day: 308
Miles Today: 15
Location: Mile marker 95, Tavernier
Section Mile: KWR 91
ECT Mile: 4614
Dreamt a lot last night. Interestingly, many of them were trail related. There was one where I couldn't find my tent because I couldn't see well (not sure whether it was my vision or a thick fog). I found it mostly by feel, entered it and lay down.
It was a beautiful sunrise. Took a shot. Got a slightly late start. Had breakfast about 4 miles up. Entered Key Largo. This is the peak tourist season and all motels are very expensive. Went to the library and made journal entries. Looks like there are 4 more libraries along US 1, so I should be able to keep the journal current to within a couple of days.
Very hot again. Remaining miles have now dropped to the 2 digits. Remaining days = 6. Remaining miles = 97. Sleeping in a wooded place near US 1. Reading Wuthering Heights. Its english makes the going slow.