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.
Date: April 07 2001
Trail Day: 311
Miles Today: 21
Location: Mile Marker 27, Ramrod Key
Section Mile: KWR 159
ECT Mile: 4683
Remaining days = 2, Remaining miles = 29
Had a solid sleep last night. I was quite clumsy when I woke up. Crossed the 7 mile bridge. Me and my brothers have come here to fish several times. I have driven down to Marathon to fish off of the old 7 mile bridge several times, but I have driven only once to Key West. So today I am back in fairly unknown areas.
Saw several large fish from the bridge. Also saw a large school of 9" fish. Had lunch in a Chinese restaurant and went to the library to enter yesterday's journal. The internet connection was down. Called Suriyan to find out where I'm supposed to actually finish. So far its been such a remote event that I had never paid attention to it. He checked the IAT site and told me its the southern most point in the US monument. My little map shows it, so now I am set. Also there is some disagreement between 2 maps I have from the same tourist guide. One shows US 1 to end a little before the monument while the other shows it going very close to it. I have added 2 miles assuming the former is correct. Now I am not sure. It could be that I have only 27 miles left.
I have also managed to make journal updates from every library in the Keys so far. I will be making the final hike entry from the last one in Key West.
Tomorrow I have to do a 15 mile hike and then 12 miles.
H. Monster has made a guest entry. Hey H. Monster. I wonder what he's upto now.
Had a rib dinner and picked up some beer for later. I was hoping to sleep on one of the old bridges but they have all been torn down in this area. So went off into the bushes to sleep.
Date: April 08 2001
Trail Day: 312
Miles Today: 27
Location: Southern most point monument, Key West
Section Mile: KWR 186
ECT Mile: 4710
Last night, I decided to finish off the hike today. Its 27 miles to complete it and I will get to stay a day in Key West. I had decided this when I woke up late night. I usually don't fall asleep quickly once I get up at night. But this time I went into a very heavy, deep sleep. It was as though my body knew that I was going to have a long day tomorrow. Managed to complete the 27 miles with only 3 breaks, of which only one was a sit down break.
There are numerous bridges as one gets close to Key West. The miles went fairly easily. Stopped at a place that said - Tourist info. They tried to get me into one of those high pressure sales for some vacation spot for 50$. I have learnt that I'm much better off saying no to anything that says free. The sales guys were young, smooth, 'happening' and fake. I wouldn't trust them with my pen.
Entered Key West. Went into a Wal-Mart and bought some clothes. Tried to find a motel along the way. Nothing for less that 100$. Got to the monument. Took some shots. It was a long day and I was quite worn out. That completes my ECT hike - 10 months and change and about 4700 miles.
It has been the experience of a life time. The main thing it has taught me is that a lot of what society holds to be true is not. Its just one way of how things can be. There are infinte ways things can be, all of which are equally valid. It has taught me the joys of simplicity. I lived more fully and happily with stuff in my backpack than when I had an apartment full of crap and made a good living. It taught me that prejudice and hypocrisy are alive and well. On the flip side there are genuinely good people just about every where. I have been helped by people from all geographical locations and walks of life. Tourists however are the worst. They are very shallow and self absorbed.
Well, the hike has now moved into the past and will soon become bits and pieces of memory - fogged and biased by time. Here are some highlights that have stayed with me