Drinking the Nastiest Water in 5,000 Miles
ECT Day 298
Day 298: 34 miles
This morning I slept in a bit and decided not to get going until the sun came up. I began packing up just before 7:00 a.m. and was ready to go by 7:30 a.m. It was rough putting my socks and shoes on this morning. They were soaking wet, cold, and covered in sand. The last couple days my feet have been soaked nonstop. But I guess that’s the Florida Trail experience. I’ve been lucky so far that the trail was pretty dry up north due to the drought.
Eventually I got moving and left the campsite. I walked along the blue blaze to get back to the Florida trail. Almost immediately my feet were wet once again. A lot of sections of the trail around here are covered in 1 to 5 inches of water. It was really cold this morning, so the water was a lot tougher than yesterday. My toes were burning from the cold. But I knew the sun would be up soon. It also seems like there is a lot of dirt road walking today. So hopefully my feet will be able to dry out entirely. Today I’m generally heading towards the River Ranch area.
River Ranch is actually a glamping/camping resort. The funny thing is I went there back in 2021 when I was traveling through Florida. They have BLM land back there so you can camp for free right by the River Ranch. The ranch itself has every amenity you could think of, even a Starbucks. I’ll get in there either tonight or first thing tomorrow morning. It’s gonna be expensive so I’m hoping not to buy too much there. But I will need a little bit of food to get me to the next stop.
Well, I walked this morning I did a little bit of “work.” I’ve been trying really hard to stay up on my blogging and writing recently. Currently I’m actually doing a really good job. I’ve been so consistent with my blogging that I actually have to reign it in and remember to lag my posts a bit for safely. The trek suggests that authors lag their posts around 50-100 miles from your actual location. I’ve been trying to maintain that if I can.
The trail was overgrown and pretty flooded this morning. My ankles and feet were so cold and wet right off the bat. But I could feel the sun starting to come up. The trail continued to be overgrown and saturated with water for about 5-6 miles. Every now and then I crossed over a dirt road which was nice and dry. Or the tall grass that I was walking through was dry underneath rather than saturated. I took what I could get in those moments.
Eventually after crossing over one road the trail stayed dry for the rest of the day. I felt pretty fortunate, and my feet were finally able to begin drying out. I walked for hours just singing along and messing around on my phone. Sometime around 10am I called Sparkle and talked to her for ages.
I haven’t talked to her on the phone at all since leaving Canada. It’s been about a month and a half which feels so crazy. The two of us have talked a lot over text and Instagram, but we haven’t yet actually talked on the phone. It felt like we had so much to catch up on. She’s back to normal life and I was really curious about that. And she wanted to know about the Florida Trail and how it’s been going down here. There was a lot of talk about.
It was so nice to hear about what she’s up to recently. She just got a job and is starting to save up for the next adventure. It made my day to talk to her on the phone. We wound up talking for almost an hour. During that time, I navigated the road I was on. I had to climb under a gate at one point which was pretty funny. The route also brought me passed a bunch of hunters over the course of the day. All of them are nice though and just gave me a wave.
As the day went on, I kept waiting and waiting for the perfect place to take my break. But that spot never wound up coming. In the end I wound up sitting in the middle of the road and enjoying a break there. There was swampy water along both sides of the road, so I didn’t want to sit too close to the edge. But I really wanted to take a break to stretch and rest my body. I’ve been walking all day so far for more than five hours. And I’m really not in any particular rush today.
The River Ranch area is up ahead and there is a general store and possibly a restaurant there. The store is open until 8pm so it seems like I should have plenty of time to get in there this evening. Originally, I had thought that I was going to get in tomorrow morning. But because I’ve done longer days recently, I’ll actually be getting in tonight.
Well, I sat in the road I did some stretching and pulled out some more snacks. It felt nice to rest my body. I’ve been surprised though how my body has held up over these last couple days. I’ve been doing really big mileage recently. In the last two days alone, I did over 70 miles. That’s not too shabby for just two days. And it looks like today I’ll be doing about 34 miles if I do wind up going to the store this evening.
After sitting for a little while I continued along. Within the next hour or so my feet felt completely dry which was amazing. The trail went right past a camping area which was marked as a water source on my map. I veered off course to go over to the camping area in search of water. The water source at my campsite this morning was working perfectly fine. But the water came out tasting like iron or copper deposits. It tasted like water that pennies had been soaking in all day.
Sadly, though, the water at this campsite tasted exactly the same. I would’ve had to be dying to drink that water. The flavor was so intense with metal taste that it made you feel thirsty as soon as I hit your mouth. It was absolutely revolting. The idea of going another few more hours without water sounded way better than drinking that penny water.
Even after filtering the water and adding multiple flavor packets to it it still tasted absolutely terrible. And that’s coming from someone that’s drink just about all the water you could imagine over the years. I don’t have incredibly high standards for water sources. I’ll drink water straight out of a dirty puddle if I have to. Usually stagnant water tastes a whole lot better than this weird metal water.
Heading out from the campsite I continued along the road for a while. It went on for a couple of miles and then brought me out to a main highway. Sadly, the next 5-6 miles of walking was along a busy highway. It was a really high-speed road with a narrow shoulder. When cars were passing by, the only option was to walk alongside the road in the grass. But the grass was actually really overgrown and difficult to walk on. The ground was pretty uneven. Those next couple of hours really dragged by. This was some of the worst road walking yet.
I wasn’t particularly worried about the road being busy. It was just annoying that I had to get so far into the grass when cars went by. For the most part any car the past by me move to the side and yielded it. I usually don’t have a lot problems with that. I’m not sure if it’s just luck or if it has to do with being a girl, but every time I’m walking alongside the road the cars move out of the way. Sure, I’ve had the occasional crazy person swerve in my direction. But generally, that’s not the case.
Those next two hours really dragged on. At this point I was just really thirsty and hungry. I was ready to be at the river ranch doing my resupply and eating some food. I had some snacks that I could eat but nothing really appealed to me. And two of the foods I was looking forward to the most required adding water to cold soak them. But I didn’t have any water because it tasted so bad.
Eventually I got off of the highway and the trail veered off onto a dirt road covered in thick brush. It was an old road, but the road had been locked so it’s not getting traffic anymore. It was overgrown with tall grass for a while. I had to watch out for cow pies in the grass as I maneuver through. It was a little bit tedious, but it could’ve been worse. I was just ready to be done for the day.
As I got closer to the river ranch area everything started to look so familiar to me. It was such an odd feeling coming back here for the second time, this time on foot. Eventually I got off the overgrown trail and was walking along the road again. That was a relief, and I knew it meant that I was close. I had to pass by the entry gates for the River Ranch area. The guy manning the gate recognize that I was a Florida Trail Hiker in allowed me through. I asked him to put me in the direction of the general store. I also asked if there any restaurants open tonight. He was very helpful and showed me where I need to go.
I walked through the river ranch area past the pastures with bison, the petting zoo, and all the different attractions. There’s a hotel here as well as cabins, teepees, and other types of camping. It was voted the number one glamping location of the year. I can definitely see why.
It was so funny to walk by all of these buildings for the second time in my life. I recognized and remembered just about everything. It felt like just yesterday that I was here before. It’s crazy to think about the fact that I was over two years ago now. I had it over to the general store which was open until 8pm It was starting to get cold out and I was ready to get bundled up in my fleece.
The general store had everything that you could’ve needed and then some. It was expensive but the options were not limited. It was a tiny little grocery store in there. After I got what I needed I had a next door to the chop house. This was the one restaurant open in town for the night. One restaurant was plenty for me though.
The wait staff were incredibly nice and brought me over to a table. And to my surprise they sent me in a booth right next to Beer Run! I truly wasn’t sure prior to this whether I was a head or whether he was ahead. It was so funny to just run into each other here. He was finishing up his dinner and getting ready to leave right as I sat down.
I was pleasantly surprised that the menu looked incredible. I wound getting some seasoned brussels sprouts and a brisket flat bread with some nice cheeses and pickled onions. Everything was delicious. Even better than I could’ve ever imagined. I was tempted to get dessert, but I was absolutely stuffed. Even getting multiple things for my meal the bill still only came out to $24. Which for the quality of food was pretty surprising. It felt like a good deal. After I finished up, I packed my things away and got ready to hike out into the night.
After I finished eating, I got my things packed away, put my headlamp on, and set out. I only plan to walk another mile or so to get to a campsite for the night. I had to backtrack on the road through the River Ranch area initially.
Then the trail continued to long a dirt road which went back towards a primitive campsite there. It was in the general direction of the BLM land that I had camped on back in 2021. But instead of entering into the primitive campsite the trail turned left and headed into the woods.
Before even making it to the designated campsite I want to find a really nice flat spot. It was sandy and under a tree. It seemed like the perfect place to set up for the night. I pitched my tent and got inside and comfortable. Then I did my stretching before I called it a night.
In the last three days I’ve hiked about 105 miles. And honestly my body feels really good. The food tonight rejuvenated me. And I feel motivated by the goal that I’m hiking to Okeechobee so that I can go see my family for Christmas. I can hike big miles if that’s the result.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.