Female Hiker Gets Followed on Trail
ECT Day 293&294
Day 293: zero day
This morning I woke up around 8am. I really didn’t want to get up but I also wanted to make it in time for the continental breakfast. After I ate I went back to my room and hung out for hours. I watched TV and got some writing done.
I’ve been staying pretty caught up on my writing and blogging while I’ve been in Florida. It’s much easier when you’re walking on roads and flat ground frequently. It allows me to write while I walk. After hanging out in the room for most of the day I decided to get out and do some thing. When I resupplied yesterday I forgot to get contact solution so I have to get some. I’m also pretty hungry so I’d like to get some lunch
Everything in Lake Mary is pretty spread out so rather than walking 3 miles to run errands I Ubered there and walked back. I got a ride over to a target which was fun to walk around. I grabbed contact solution and ibuprofen and then got a Starbucks Frappuccino before I left. Two Frappuccino’s in two days, life is good.
After I got what I needed I was going to walk back to the hotel. On my way back I was looking for a a place to grab lunch. I really didn’t want to spend a ton of money though so in the end I decided to get Steak ‘n Shake. I haven’t had it in ages and their Frisco melt is so good. Once the food was ready I grabbed the bag and brought it back to the room to eat.
It was about a mile or so to get back to the hotel. While I walked I called my dad again. It’s been really nice catching up with my family now that I have headphones again and can actually make phone calls.
Back at the hotel I sat outside for a while and finishing up on the phone with my dad. Then I headed up to the room to hang out and relax for the rest of the day. It was around 3pm by the time that I was back at the room. I put TV on in the background and got a lot of writing done. Then I talked to my mom on the phone again around 6pm.
While I was on the phone with my mom I got a call from a friend of mine, Danny. I met Danny back in 2021 when I was living in Orlando and doing work for stay. I stayed at a guys house for about two months and Danny and him were good friends. I wound up spending a lot of time with Danny, his girlfriend at the time, and their friends. We would frequently do family dinners at the house and also play volleyball together and party on the weekends.
Danny lives in the Orlando area which is where I am at right now. We’ve been trying to connect while I’m in the area but I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out. But just now he called me and said that he’d be driving through the area and wanted to swing by and maybe grab a drink somewhere. After I talked to him I finished up on the phone with my mom. Then about a half an hour later Danny arrived.
Seeing him again was so cool. It’s crazy to think that it’s been about 2 1/2 years since the last time I saw him. I stayed and lived in Orlando in 2021 for about five months doing work for stay in a couple different places. Danny and his friends treated myself and my boyfriend at the time like family when we were down here.
Danny drove over to the hotel and then we went over to a Top Golf location right down the street. I’d never been inside a top golf before. I didn’t realize that it was like a full bar and there were multiple floors. The place was really big. We sat at the bar, grabbed a drink, and caught up. I’ve stayed up with Danny on social media but we really haven’t talked too much the last couple years. It’s funny though it really did feel like no time had passed once we were hanging out again
While we were sitting at the bar we wound up watching a couple get into a fight. The guy got really mad at his girlfriend and wound up splashing her drink onto the ground. Later on Danny and I sat outside in a patio area by a fire. The girl was sitting out there and then her boyfriend came out and started starting problems again.
Danny and I wound up talking to him and his girlfriend and in the end the guy calmed down. The funny thing is we wound up drinking and hanging out with that couple for the whole rest of the time that we were there. They were actually really nice and we had clearly just caught them in an odd moment prior.
The girl Bri was really interested in what I was doing. Her and her boyfriend Oscar could not believe that I’d walk the distance from here to Newfoundland Canada. They kept talking about how I was like those people that you see the videos of on social media. But you never really get to meet those people in real life.
I was so glad that I decided to go out with Danny tonight. And it was so funny that we became best friends with that couple. Originally when we had seen them we figured they were going to be a problem. I was trying to talk to the girl and make sure that she was safe. I wanted to make sure that she had everything she needed to get home by herself if she had to. Women have to help out other women.
But it didn’t come to that and the whole rest of the night was super chill. The four of us hung out at the patio until the place closed down. We became friends with the bartenders and they wound up letting us stay until they were fully closed. They even brought us out waters; guacamole, chips, and salsa. What a night. It’s been about three months since I’ve drink at all. Let alone went out and had a fun night like this.
Around 11 o’clock top golf closed down and we were the last people to leave. The hotel I was staying at was only right down the street. But Danny drove me back anyway. We said goodbye and actually made plans to see each other tomorrow. Danny wants to give me a GoPro that he has which is so ridiculously nice of him. It would be really cool to have a good camera to us. Danny is also in film school and he really wanted to come out and take some footage of me hiking on the trail. So we made plans to see each other at some point tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to that.
It was so late by the time that I got back to my room at the hotel. I was exhausted. I haven’t had a few drinks in as long as I can remember. I got ready for bed and comfortable; then laid and watched TV. Somehow I managed to do a little more writing before I finally called it a night. Tomorrow I will be back to trail.
Day 294: 23 miles
This morning I woke up around 8am and was feeling pretty exhausted. I was surprised though that my head didn’t hurt and my body felt good. I only had about three or four drinks but when you haven’t drank in months that can be a different story.
Part of me just wanted to lay in bed all day. But I got the strength to get up and begin packing my things. The weather looks terrible for tomorrow so I really wanna get as early of a start today as possible. Luckily I’ll be going through towns and doing a lot of road walking the next day or so. So it shouldn’t be too hard to duck out of the rain every now and again if I have to.
I was completely packed up before 9am and ready to hit the road. I headed down to the front lobby and checked out. I contemplated eating something at the continental breakfast. but nothing really appealed to me. I wound up filling my water bottle up with the cold lemon water in the lobby and then hit the road. The weather today is perfect. It’s warm but a little bit overcast with a light breeze. I really couldn’t ask for anything else.
Today is the first time on the Florida trail that I’m hiking out of town by myself. Beer Run got into town before me the other day. I think he did stay in town yesterday as well. We’ve just been doing our own thing. Everyone have to hike their own hike and that’s ok. That’s what this whole thing is all about. I’ve actually been enjoying having some time to myself. Especially after spending most of the year hiking with other people.
I got back to it and was able to walk right from the hotel back to the Florida trail. Then the Florida Trail followed along bike paths as I made my way through town. I went past various parks and recreation areas. The bike path was really beautiful with lots of big trees, Spanish moss, and lovely foliage. Listen to music as I walked.
As I walked I tried to text a couple different people to coordinate some plans. I actually know a lot of people around this area and I’m hoping to see most of them if I can. Danny is planning on coming out at some point today. He really wants to follow me along the trail briefly and get some video footage. He’s also going to give me a GoPro which is so cool.
While I walked I was able to call the post office in White Springs to see if my package left their facility and arrived in Christmas. Lucky for me it finally arrived to its destinations before I did! The box is in Christmas which is about 40 miles from where I am now. The only issue with that it is a Friday today. The post office is open today and then it’s open tomorrow until noon. So I’ll either have to push out some really big miles to get there before the post office closes Saturday, or hang around until Monday.
I had a really good thought though after calling the post office. I texted Danny and asked if there’s anyway if he could drive me from Oviedo to Christmas today. I’m gonna be walking from Lake Mary to the Oviedo area in the afternoon today. Then I’d actually be able to get my Z packs replacement tent. I’ve been trying to get this package for a month.
I continued along the bike path after that. It filled me with so much relief to think that I actually might be able to get this tent finally. It’s been stressing me out having to bounce it so many different times. I didn’t pay for the replacement, that’s just something Z packs will do as part of their warranty policy. But still it’s been a bummer not being able to get the tent and send my current one in to be fixed. The zipper is a little bit broken on my current tent.
After a while the bike path ended and I was walking along a sidewalk on a pretty busy road. I’m going to be going by various shopping plazas, stores, and restaurants over the course of today. That means I can hopefully get some great food in today.While I was walking on the sidewalk a guy walked past with the dog. The dog was super cute and came up to me and I asked if I could pet it. The dog wound up jumping on me and I loved every second of it.
Just after that encounter a lady who was running stopped off to talk to me. She asked if I was thru hiking which surprised me. People always ask what you’re doing but they rarely ask if you’re thru hiking. That would mean that they know what thru hiking is, which many people don’t.
The woman’s name is Sultana, which I thought was the most beautiful name I ever heard. She was really nice and asked me about what I was doing. We wound up exchanging information so that she could follow my journey. Not long after I left she messaged me to see if I needed anything. She offered to come and bring me anything that I needed. But I told her I had everything that I could possibly need. I just re-supplied and have a day or two of food at least.
I continued walking along the sidewalk after that. The trail went right past Winter Park which was a pretty busy area. I was tempted to get off trail and grab something to eat because there were some nice places nearby. But I knew I would be passing through Oviedo soon and could get food there.
After another hour or so of walking I made it to Oviedo. I was going to go to a pizza place but it was closed. So I went across the street to a barbecue restaurant. The inside of the restaurant was teeny tiny, with just enough space for customers to push past one another. I felt like a beached whale with my backpack on in there. Even though my pack is pretty small at this point, I still felt too big to be inside the place.
I wound up ordering a mac & cheese bowl with pulled pork and baked beans on top. It sounded amazing. When I got up to the front to pay the women who worked there noticed my pack and began asking me questions. It blew their minds to know where I was coming from. One lady who worked there asked if she could take a picture of me. She knew that the guy who owned the place would appreciate it. Apparently he’s an outdoorsy guy.
One of the employees took my picture out in front of the sign. I thought that was so funny. It caught me off guard that they wanted to take my picture. But I had no problem obliging. After I grabbed my food I went outside to a picnic table to eat. I began devouring this delicious bowl of mac & cheese covered in some of the best baked beans I’ve ever had. I love baked beans.
While I was sitting there a guy who I had seen inside came up to me. He was curious about what I was doing and actually had worked at the local gear shop for years. It was really nice to talk to him. We talked on and off before he wound up heading out. The name that he went by was Stinky which I thought was really funny. It makes happy to hear a trail name. I certainly haven’t been encountering many hikers recently
Just as I was finishing up eating my friend Danny came to meet me. He wanted to bring me a go pro camera which was so nice. I’m excited to take footage on a better camera than my iPhone X. He also said he had no problem taking me to the Christmas post office.
It was about a 30 minute drive over to Christmas. I was so appreciative of Danny taking me over there. We stopped off along the way and I filled his tank with gas. I know how expensive gas is so that was the least I could do. Once I got my tent I used the return label inside to send my current tenant back to Z packs. Then Danny drove me back to the barbecue restaurant where he picked me up.
After we got back to Oviedo I got my pack situated and was ready to go. Danny and I took a picture together and he showed me how to use the go Pro camera. I’m so excited to take some better quality videos of the things I see every day. Danny also gave me another small power bank. My current power bank has a lot of charge so originally I wasn’t planning on taking it. But while I was sitting there I had a change of heart.
I sat there and was checking over the map. I hadn’t really looked past Christmas prior to then. When I finally did look I realized that there really wasn’t much of anything between Christmas and Okeechobee. That’s about a 200 mile section of trail. There is a general store along the way and another gas station. But there won’t be any place to stop off and rest until Okeechobee.
That means that there probably won’t be any place for me to charge my electronics. And it’s going to take about seven or eight days to walk the 200 miles to Okeechobee. I decided to take the extra power bank because it might actually come in handy this next week. If I don’t need it afterwards I could always send it home or send it back to Danny. But I think it’s going to get it use this week.
Around 4pm I say goodbye to Danny and got moving again. It was so awesome to get to see him not once but twice in the last two days. Today has been an absolutely incredible day. Leaving there I continued along the road for about an hour. At one point a car pulled up next to me and a guy asked if I needed a ride. I explained that I was walking on purpose and that I was doing a hike. He asked me where I was coming from and going and I explained briefly. But to be honest something about the guy made me a little bit uneasy.
I couldn’t necessarily put my finger on it. And there’s a good chance that I was misinterpreting the situation as well. But I have a mentality that it’s better to be safe than to be sorry. I kept the conversation short and continued along.
Within 10 minutes of that encounter another car pulled over and the driver actually got out of the car. When he got out of the car he said, “Peg Leg?” Apparently he reads my blogs and recognized me walking along the road! The guy was really nice and made a serious effort not to freak me out or make me uncomfortable. He was well aware of the fact that getting out and approaching someone on the side of the road might freak them out a little bit. Just in talking with him briefly it was clear that he was a really nice guy and only meant well.
We talked for a bit about the hike. It was really cool to talk to someone who knew exactly what I was doing. He’s been reading my blog since I was on the Appalachian Trail. It was interesting to hear him talk about how my blogs are just like a story. And now how funny and weird it was to be seeing me in real life. I felt the same way about him too. I’ve only had one or two people come up to me and recognize me before. It’s a pretty crazy thing honestly. Sometimes I forget how many people are reading.
Gary and I talked for a while alongside the road. It made me so happy to talk to him. He had been out today walking his dog along a section of the trail. He’s local to the area and offered to help me out if I need anything tomorrow. I was blown away by how much he wanted to help. We exchanged information and he literally said to make him a list of anything I needed. If I needed anything at all he’d be able to bring it to me and Christmas tomorrow.
I don’t really need anything though honestly. More than anything I just really appreciate the thought. It’s so nice that he wants to help me just because he’s been reading my story. Traveling like this has truly brought back so much of my faith in humanity. People are so incredibly nice, caring, and helpful. Generally everyone you meet really wants to help you.
After talking to Gary for a while I continued along. I texted him to thank him for everything he offered. I wouldn’t want to make him go out of his way to bring me anything in Christmas. It should be easy enough for me to re-supply there. But it makes me feel good knowing that if I did happen to need anything there’s someone out there who would help me.
Within just a few minutes of leaving there I got off of the road and was back into the woods. I walked about 10 or 20 feet into the woods and saw someone walking towards me. They started waving at me and were looking at me in a way that suggested that they knew who I was. I didn’t recognize him at first and was a bit confused. Though I have been talking with a lot of friends recently who have been wanting to come out and see me. For a second I thought that it could’ve been just about anyone.
After a minute though as I got closer I had a very weird realization. The guy who was standing there waving at me was actually the guy who had driven past me and pulled over before I talked to Gary. He was the one who had given me a bit of a weird feeling and had offered me a ride. As I approached him in the woods now he said he assumed I would be walking this way.
Immediately once I realized who it was I was pretty uneasy. He literally parked the car at the trail head and had walked out into the woods to wait for me to walk by. He could’ve waited at the trail head to talk to me if he had questions for me. The whole interaction was a little bit weird. It seemed like he was just curious about what I was doing. He made some comment about how I must be famous. Then asked if you could take a picture with me.
I definitely had my guard up during that encounter. Luckily he didn’t try to talk to me for too long. He was a perfectly nice enough guy and didn’t say or do anything wrong. But the encounter as a whole was a little worrying. He wound up just saying that it was nice to meet me and he turned and headed back towards the road. I was looking over my shoulder though for a while after that.
The juxtaposition of those two human encounters was very interesting. Especially to have them happen back to back. During the first encounter I felt completely comfortable and safe. Talking to Gary was such a pleasant time and if I didn’t need to hike I could’ve talk to him for ages. It was clear in the conversation that he was a really nice guy with good intentions.
Then on the other hand there was this other stranger. When he first pulled over and talked to me alongside the road I had a bad feeling almost immediately. It was hard to say why but it’s just how I felt. I didn’t even get his name because I was trying to talk to him as little as possible. Then to have him drive away and decide to pull up to the trail head and walk into the woods was a whole other thing. He waited 20 minutes there while I talked to Gary along side the road.
I continue along after that. But for the next half hour or so I was checking behind myself constantly. Once I had gone far enough and hadn’t seen the guy again I knew I was going to be ok. But that encounter freaked me out. I was grateful and well aware of the fact that it could’ve gone very badly. His intentions might not of been bad. But the way he went about that encounter was very ignorant.
You don’t approach a girl alone in the woods intentionally. He had the option to wait for me in the trail head parking lot. In a much more public place. But intentionally walked down the trail for me to walk past him. That’s just a little bit weird.
Within the next hour of walking the sun began to set. The trail was absolutely beautiful. I was following along on the side of a big river for a couple of miles. After dark I continued walking. The trail went by a couple different camping areas. There were some people hiking in from the road with coolers to spend the night. It was a Friday so that wasn’t surprising.
I decided to push past the designated campsite and go a little further. The trail was nice and easy and had recently been cleared by maintenance workers. After walking on the trail in the dark for a while I popped out at a dirt road and then walked along it for a while. There is also a long wooden boardwalk that I walked along. That was pretty cool.
Once the road picked back up into the woods I began looking for a campsite. I’d seen comments on Far Out that there were lots of camps along side the trail. There are also some swamp icons up ahead. So I wanted to camp before them just in case the areas were flooded. I’m comfortable going through swamp and I’m comfortable hiking at night. But I’m not comfortable hiking through swamp at night. I’m a little bit brave but I’m not that brave.
I found a nice flat spot and set up. Then I pulled out my new replacement zpacks tent and begin putting it up. The tent itself isn’t brand new. It’s gently used, likely from other people doing the same thing I’m doing. Utilizing the tent while their tent is being repaired. But it was definitely in better shape than my tent. My current zpacks Plex solo has about 8000 miles on it. So this lightly used one feels brand new.
The mosquitos were really bad while I was getting set up for the night. They were driving me absolutely crazy. Once I got the tent up I threw everything inside and then set everything up from in there. Usually I set stuff up outside and then get into my tent once it’s completely ready to go. But the bugs were killing me. I made an extra effort to set up my tent as best as I could. I know it’s going to probably rain tonight so I want to be prepared for that.
Then I laid in my tent and did my stretching. I also got some writing done because I was still feeling pretty energized. In the end I wound up staying up for a while before calling it a night. It’s supposed to rain pretty much all day tomorrow and into the next day too. I’m hoping it’s not too bad though.
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