An Appalachian Trail Tramily Reunion

ECT Day 297

Day 297: 27 miles

This morning I was shocked that I woke up naturally around 7am. I figured I was going to be absolutely exhausted after yesterday. I thought my body was going to be pretty sore too. Miles wise I practically did a 24-hour challenge yesterday.

Around 7am I felt good and I felt energized so I started to slowly pack up. I’ll be crossing another road today in about 20 miles and there’s a chance that Boosted who I hiked with on the AT is gonna come out and visit me. He’s been in Tampa for the weekend and wants to come out to see me with Roxy. I haven’t seen the two of them since we summited Katahdin together back at the start of August. It would make me so happy to see them.

I was shocked to wake up naturally this morning before 7am!

Knowing that they might be coming out kept me motivated to get up and ready. The earlier I can get to that road the better. I got fully packed up and then used the water pump at the campsite to fill my bottles. Then just before 8am I was hiking again. Originally, I had figured I’d probably want to sleep in until after 8am. So this is a much earlier start than expected.

I camped at the Jane Green camp site last night.

I didn’t walk more than a half a mile before I was back trudging through water and swamp. If I stayed towards the edges of the swamp this morning it was really only ankle deep. I was trying to keep my ace bandage dry because it irritates me when it gets wet. My feet weren’t dry this morning when I put my socks and shoes on anyways. As long as I wasn’t walking through super deep swamp it didn’t bother me at all. The worst thing about hiking through the water is that slows you down. Rather than going 3 or more mph I’m doing more like 2 mph.

After a couple miles of going through the swamp I got up to slightly higher ground. The trail went up through a grassy field. Every now and then you’d have to go through a puddle that laid across the path but they were few and far between. I could walk pretty fast and didn’t have to worry about where I was stepping. That was a nice change of pace.

By 9am the sun was out in full force. It’s going to be an absolutely beautiful day today. The sky was bright blue with very few clouds. There was a light breeze in the air. It truly could not get much better than this. Later today I should be able to take a break and dry my shoes out too.

A bridge that I crossed over along the trail.

Over the course of the next couple of hours I wasn’t exactly able to keep my feet dry. In a lot of areas, the trail and road that I was walking on was flooded. I was walking on the high-water alternate route too! So I couldn’t even begin to imagine how deep the water was on the main route. I was glad to be on the high-water alternate.

The trail was incredibly flooded over the course of today.

At one point the trail crossed over a dirt road that was completely turned to mud. I had to walk across so slowly as my feet sunk deep into the muck. I was just trying not to trip and fall in. That road lasted a lot longer than I hoped. The mud and the flooded trail was definitely slowing me down today.

The trail went through a tortoise habitat and I actually saw a tortoise!

A terrible photo of the tortoise that I saw.

By the afternoon the trail dried out. The Florida Trail followed along dirt roads for a while. There was a campground just off the trail called Tracy camp. I couldn’t resist walking over to take a look at the site. It would’ve been a great place to camp! There was a covered pavilion, showers, and a water spigot. After I had a peek, I continued walking along the dirt roads.

Tracy camp. It would have been such a great camp site! But the timing didn’t align for me.

Around this time I was also corresponding with Boosted. We hiked together for about 1700 miles along the Appalachian trail this year. He’s gonna be driving from Tampa back out to the coast today so he’ll be passing through the area. We’re planning on meeting around us 441. The trail crossed right over the road. I let him know that I’d probably be there in the next couple of hours. He said he would be too! I’m really looking forward to seeing him and Roxy, the amazing dog who hiked the whole Appalachian trail.

It was such a relief walking along a bit of dry grassy road.

At one point while I was walking along the dirt road, I realized I’d gone a bit off trail. It didn’t seem like a big issue though. I pulled up my phone and used Google maps to find a new route that didn’t require backtracking. But once I started walking, I learned quickly that that route wasn’t really in use anymore. Maybe years ago, the road was used. But now it was overgrown and washed out in some places.

As I continue to long the road it brought me through an old summer camp. Or something like that. There was a bunch of zip line courses and wooden buildings. I couldn’t find the road I was supposed to walk along because it was so overgrown. I wound up walking around a bunch of old concession stand buildings for a bit.

Eventually I found the “road”. It was unbelievably overgrown though. I was basically bushwhacking for the next half mile or so. One part of the road was fully washed out and I had to climb down and embankment and go up the other side. This is the kind of stuff that happens when you get off trail.

Eventually I made it back to a paved road. That was a relief. From there I continued along road for the next couple miles. I walked around the central Florida animal refuge. Apparently sometimes you can see big cats inside the refuge.  Today I wasn’t able to see anything though. Then the trail popped out at US 441. From there it went down the highway for a couple miles.

The florida trail goes right past the central Florida animal refuge.

I walked a mile or so down and came to a picnic area. Then I sent a pin of my location to Boosted. He says he’s gonna be passing through this area in the next half hour. The timing could not have lined up any better. I hung out there at the picnic table and dried my tent out. I took my socks and shoes off and dried those out too.

Then not long after I was sitting there Boosted arrived with his friend and Roxy. It was amazing to see Boosted again. It really feels like yesterday that we were hiking together. Him and Sweet Pea are the two hikers that I’ve done the most miles with ever. I hiked about 1700 miles this year with Boosted and his dog Roxy.

The girl is back! It was so amazing to see Boosted and Roxy again. My girl Roxy was looking stunning.

The content that all the original blog readers have been waiting for, Roxy aka Trash Panda!

Boosted brought pizza and burritos and soda!We sat there at the picnic table and talked and caught up. It was just so cool to spend time with him. Roxy looked so good and her coat was so fuzzy. The funny thing is though Roxy is currently in heat.

She also was in heat five or six months ago when we were hiking the Appalachian Trail together. I couldn’t help but think that by God have I been on trail a long time. Dogs only going to heat typically twice a year and I’ve been around for both times that Roxy went into heat. And I’ve been hiking that entire time too!

I ate pizza and half a burrito and drink a soda. It was so nice just hanging out like old times with Boosted. We talked about maybe catching up again somewhere around the Okeechobee area. That’s closer to where he lives so he might be able to come out and hike for a couple days.

That would be so ridiculously cool. I also floated the idea by him is possibly doing the lake to oceans trail sometime in January. A few people I know floated the idea by me the other day. Why not get a few more miles in before the end of this hiking season, am I right?

Sometime after 3pm I said goodbye to Boosted, his friend, and Roxy. I gave Roxy lots of pats. Then I continued on my way. I think that I’ll probably see him again in the next couple weeks. It would be super cool to get some hiking in together.

Boosted, Roxy, and I! It was so amazing reuniting with my Appalachian trail tramily (minus Sweet Pea). I’m hoping to see Boosted again soon too!

When I left there I began walking down the road for the next mile or so. I turned my phone on and had some messages from Trucker. Trucker and I hiked together up in Canada for about two months before I came down here. The last couple days he was toying with the idea of coming down and doing some miles with me here in Florida. Especially since I’m hiking by myself now. There’s a lot of deep swamp up ahead and it seems like he wanted to be around just in case.

It was so nice of him to be worried about me. So today he booked a flight and he’s going to be coming down to meet me somewhere around the Okechobee area! Then we will be hiking together probably all the way down to Key West. I think that’s a pretty cool concept. I got to finish the ECT with him and now he gets to finish the ECT with me. It’s so funny how things work out.

As I road walked, I talked to my dad on the phone. Sometimes when fun and exciting things like this happen, I just want to tell someone right away. We also talked a bit about this upcoming family vacation. I’m right on track to be getting into Okeechobee before Christmas. Then my dad’s gonna pick me up and take me to Tampa to spend a couple days with family. I’m really looking forward to lounging at a rental house with a bunch of my loved ones. I’ve hardly seen any family at all this year.

I got distracted while I was on the phone and wound up going the wrong way on the trail. So I had to backtrack which was a bit of a bummer. But I had plenty of time and didn’t plan to go that much further. After a while I got off of the road and was in the woods for the rest of the day. But even in the woods I was mostly following along dirt roads. Some sections of the roads were flooded so my feet were wet once again. They were almost entirely dried out from the break so that was a bummer. But I have a feeling my feet are going to be generally wet for the next couple weeks.

Around 4:45pm the sun started to go down. It was the perfect temperature out once the sun was down. There was a little chill in the air but it was still perfectly comfortable. I had about an hour of walking remaining for the day. That meant I’d be setting up camp just as it got dark. Recently I’ve been hiking into the night a lot lately. It was honestly tempting to do a bit of night hiking tonight too.

There’s another campsite 8 miles past the one that I’m planning on going to. I floated the idea in my head a little bit, but there’s just no need to do another big day. Having an early night tonight means I’ll have an early morning tomorrow.

Walking along a sandy road as the sun began to set.

Just before I got to camp for the night, I had an encounter with a bull. At first, I could not tell what the animal was in the distance. It was the perfect time of day where the sun has gone down just enough to make visibility difficult. Eventually I realized it was a bull. Also, I realize they are not particularly threatening. But I do have a fear of them running at me if I startled them.

I wound up going really slow so that I didn’t anger the bull.  Eventually it stormed off in the opposite direction. But of course that was the direction I was heading in. I continued along and scared it again. Then I turned off the trail to go down the blue blaze to a campsite and had to go past it again. Eventually it ran off entirely and I was able to make my way to camp.

The Three Lakes campsite was a very nice designated site with a water pump, picnic tables, and plenty of places to tent. I got my tent set up, filtered some water, and then called it a night. It was a perfect quiet night.

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Comments 6

  • High Water : Dec 22nd

    Peg Leg,

    I’m walking the ECT NOBO beginning 1/1/24. Kinda expect to pass you on the bridge to Key West in just a couple days.

    Hope you can toss me a bone. How did you get from the Pinhoti’s southern terminus to Florida’s State line? If there’s a legit trail between the 2 points, it’s not in Far Out.

    Anything info you can provide will be appreciated.

    Thanks … High Water

    Reply
  • Bob : Dec 22nd

    Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful time with your family and have a well deserved rest. I really enjoy your posts! Thank you.

    Reply
  • James Craig : Dec 23rd

    Merry Christmas 🎅 I enjoy your blog very much you are very tough hiker you are a inspiration to me keep up the great work

    Reply
  • Old Man Paul : Dec 23rd

    Be careful. Very dangerous road from Key Largo to Key West. Alot of weirdos.
    Enjoy your Christmas with family 🎄

    Reply
  • John Sewell : Dec 24th

    Merry Christmas 🎁🎄 from KY

    Enjoy your family in Tampa. Look forward to some family photos.

    Reply
  • Alex Barnett : Dec 26th

    Peg Leg

    Glad you got to see Boosted and Roxy. I followed you, Boosted and Sweet Pea on your entire adventure. Now you get to hike again with Trucker. How great is that. I am a little late in catching up with your adventure but my hospital stay got in the way.

    Keep on trucking

    Alex

    Reply

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