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.
Date: April 05 2001
Trail Day: 309
Miles Today: 25
Location: Mile Marker 70
Section Mile: KWR 116
ECT Mile: 4639
Remaining days = 4, Remaining miles = 72
Fairly relaxed but long day. Met one lady in a mall. She had seen me walking on the road for 3 days and was curious about what I was doing. Also met Nomad, Swampeagle, his wife and his sister. Nomad completed his hike yesterday. I had met Swampeagle somewhere in N. Hampshire. He was doing a northbound ECT hike and completed it about 5 months ago. It was good to see them. Took shots.
My original plan was to do only 15 miles. I had stopped and even set up camp after 15 miles. But looking at things it seemed better if I could finish my hike on the 9th and stay the night in Key West. It will cost an arm and a leg, but what the heck, its the end of a long hike. The stay would also give me time to do laundry, shower, get a hair cut, enter my journal etc. Otherwise it would have been a rush. I will be shaving my head, beard and moustache. I have decided to look more respectable :-).
Completed another 10 miles quite easily. Had a couple of beers in Safari Lounge. They have a good view of the ocean. Decided to check camping rates at the KOA - 43 $ for primitive. Walked out and slept near the road right in front of the campground for free.
Date: April 06 2001
Trail Day: 310
Miles Today: 22
Location: Motel in Marathon, Mile Marker 48
Section Mile: KWR 138
ECT Mile: 4661
Remaining days = 3, Remaining miles =48.
Got a very early start. Last night the sky became very dark with clouds. It drizzled for about a minute and then the sky cleared out in a half hour.
Very hot and desultory day. Had lunch at a fish market + restaurant place. Very good food. They cooked my Dolphin fish (not Flipper) fried instead of blackened and so gave me another order for free. Drank a lot of water during the day. I must be going through 5 liters a day. This is with an early start and stopping by about noon.
Got to Marathon. This town has changed a lot in just 2 years. It is becoming a hard core tourist town. Decided to get a motel because I am quite tired and need a good rest. Had take out food from a Mexican restaurant - OK. Went into a deep sleep.
The Keys are a good place to finish one's hike in. The water is blue and there are numerous bridges, so you can watch for fish. However, it gets very hot by noon and the road is a pain.
Also a note, mostly to myself about my weight changes on the trail. Started off at 209 lbs. Lost the first 10 lbs in a few days. From then the weight steadly dropped to 160 lbs in the hardest sections in New Hampshire. Then it stayed at 165 lbs. In Florida my weight has gone up to 175 lbs. This I think is my ideal weight. I would like to see how long I am able to maintain this.