And the Sun Sets on This Year’s Section of the Florida Trail

During my hours and hours of walking on reroutes of my journey on roads,

not the intended trails, and from the comfort of my room under the eaves in a quaint Bed and Breakfast in White Springs,

I debated internally whether to keep plugging along in this manner.  Yes, I was getting in miles, but I knew that in the upcoming week or more, I’d miss some of the loveliest sections of the Florida Trail along the now dangerously flooded Suwanee River, by taking the safe route on roads.  Would jumping far forward on the trail for now and returning to this section in the future satisfy me?  Were either of these how I personally want to experience the Florida Trail at this time?

Nope.  Nowhere is it stated that I must push myself hard to continue with my plan exactly as I intended it to be or to figure out a whole new plan this far in my journey with entirely new destinations for my food drops from home. I’m tired of the mental drain of all the rerouting this year, and dealing with excessive muck and mud both on the trail and on some roads.

Believe it or not, the following photo is of a road I took to avoid a flooded trail.  Half a mile of ankle to shin deep water. Joke was on me!

It’s time to be satisfied with the 300 miles I have covered this January, and head on home.  This is one of the bonuses of section hiking.  I’ve not failed at an intended thru-hike of the entire trail in one go.  I’m simply redefining this year’s section hike according to the circumstances, just as I did on the AT, ending with success.

Again, I wouldn’t have gotten this far without the help of some wonderful people along the way, who were so generous with their time.

First there was Janie, who, after hosting me two nights in her cozy hiker cabin, drove well out of her way en route to work to drop me off where I had previously ended a road walk.

At what would unknowingly be this section’s  final campground,  I met and enjoyed talking with a strong mom who, at this time,  lives in and home schools her children from a  van.

Then there was Jodie, who picked me up at an agreed upon trailhead and whisked me to her lovely guest house where I blissfully soaked in a hot bath.  I left the next day with clean clothes and a well rested body the when she dropped me off right back on trail.

Next came Randy whose private trail I traversed through his woods to cut off some miles of road walking on the way to White Springs.  He and friends Dadbod (!) and Gary put their heads together to suggest alternate road walks to get me past the swollen river.

And finally there were fellow guests at the White Springs B & B.

What fun sitting on the front porch and talking with three other guests about our shared adventures of crossing the country by bike on the Southern Tier.

Two of these cyclists,  Marilyn and Steve,  helped me immensely with transportation, once I had come to a decision.  They offered me a ride to the Jacksonville airport when they headed home the next day.   Not only did they provide this ride, but also devoted several extra hours showing me more of White Springs and the river,

and giving me, as Steve called it, a five cent tour of a plantation near the Jacksonville coast,

a ferryboat ride,

a visit to Walmart for my beloved crunchy rice cakes and my deposit at an airport hotel.  Such generous spirits, all!

And so it goes.  I head home to my husband, my comfy bed and familiar kitchen, and no more wet tents to deal with for a while.  I return home in good health with no injuries (yay yay yay!), very satisfied with this year’s Florida Trail adventure.  I started out with a coastal experience on Smyrna Beach with two friends I know from a podcast (YouTube’s “Chat and Chew More Plants”),

shared my first week+  with two dear hiking friends,

saw up close and personal things and places of  beauty,


walked on a variety of surfaces,

enjoyed and thrived on my delicious plant-based food from home,

saw things each day that I enjoyed and appreciated,

met a variety of remarkable people along the way,


increased my mental fortitude by patiently pushing on to my destination even when tired, and finished by seeing new sights near the Jacksonville coastline with two new friends.


What’s not to like?

So I’m signing off for now.  In March, there will be a report of a fun four day trek I have lined up, followed later by some more occasional stints on my state of Ohio’s Buckeye Trail. In early January of 2025?  You’ll find me right back on the Florida Trail.  There’s still so much to discover and amazing people to meet!   Thank you for following with me on this adventure, and feel free to continue doing so on my FB page, Heart Healthy Hiking.

All done for now.

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Comments 10

  • Linda in NY : Jan 28th

    Ruth, your writing and your pics delighted me. Thanks for generously sharing your adventures and your enjoyment of life. I hope to find your future trail hikes and follow along again.

    • Ruth Morley : Feb 1st

      Linda, I very much appreciate your comments. When I take my photos, sometimes it’s just for my own benefit, to better remember a moment in time. But often I hope it will give others a better idea of what this trail experience is like. Thank you for continuing to travel with me.

  • Sally Kirkwood : Jan 28th

    Love following your Journey. Takes me places I will never see (I live in Australia and similar age ). So “live it every step “ and I am also eat WFPB so really get your food and reasons as to why! 👍🏻😊

    • Ruth Morley : Jan 31st

      Sally, thank you for your comment. I’m sure you have trails there in Australia that I’ll never have the opportunity to hike. But back in the 1990’s, our family visited your country and had the great fun of climbing Ayers Rock and snorkeling on the Great Barrier agreed (from Cairns). I too enjoy reading others’ blogs about places I’ll never get to. Let me tell you, the Florida Trail is certainly the most unique one I’ve ever been on!

  • Liz Irons Young : Jan 29th

    Ruth it was so much fun hiking with you! I loved the pictures of all the places your feet have been on the FT. Looking forward to next year as well!!
    I am glad you got off when you did, we even got more rain since you got off!

    • Ruth Morley : Feb 1st

      Well, Liz, hearing that there was yet more rain after I left helped me stop second guessing my decision to come home earlier than planned. If river levels are low next January, I intend to hit the trail where I left off, starting with the full length of the Suwannee River section.

  • Gingerbreadman : Jan 29th

    I was on the GR-5- hiking the alternative route ending to Menton (of the Alps trail I did Bratislava to Nice in ’97) when at a tiny store at a tiny town they were intently watching the TV saying “les tours tombait”… was 9/11- 2001 ! Well I left my pack outside the store in Sospel & some kids grabbed it & rifled thru it at an apartment lobby. The Sospel hostel owner heard about it & all my stuff was there & they never found the gold trinkets I had squirreled away as gifts in my letters ziplock! The Menton hostel owner was mad that I just took a small amount of food & went back for small seconds ..better to pile up ur plate once in France! Hope you met Pegleg & all the others at the gathering for the FT. Perhaps I’ll see all y’all when I canoe down the Suwannee River. Since, GBM: AT9, Miss River , GECCO- Great Europe Cycle circle Odyssey”92, PCT 93, Trans Canada cycle ’96, Alps 97 Pyrenees 99, Pennines ’01, RMT 04 (too many shortcuts to be CDT). Austrailia 06-07, …but all those are another story or 12. Perhaps I’ll see you one day out trail angeling…I is too injured to be another Nimblewill or G.Gatewood….trying to finish Green trail was injured & chased off by 2011 hurricane….nice hostel & open mic coffee shop in Burlington….waited out the storm there just like in Bozeman on the 2003 CDT attempt…left hostel my bike & it got stolen …happy future trails!

    • Ruth Morley : Jan 31st

      Thank you for reading my post, Gingerbreadman. I find it interesting that you also did the GR5. I too took the alternate route and ended in Menton. It sounds like you’ve been a very, very busy guy with all the trails you’ve hiked and the places you’ve been. I started out running dozens of marathons on 5 of the 7 continents, so I got a later start in backpacking. But I sure am glad I found it. Happy trails to you.

  • Lisa J : Jan 30th

    What a great post! I am brand new in starting my hiking journey after spending the last 9 months lurking around here on The Trek. This post embodies exactly why I want to get on the trail.

    • Ruth Morley : Feb 1st

      Lisa, welcome! Is there a trail that is calling your name? It’s so rewarding! Even the less-than-stellar days serve to make you a stronger, more capable person. Feel free to contact me through my FB group, Heart Healthy Hiking.


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