Hikers Locked Out of Their Own Hotel

ECT Day 275&276

Day 275: zero day

Last night around 2am I woke up to the sound of Beer Run scrambling around. It had started to rain, and he was cowboy camping! Poor dude. He quickly got his tarp set up and then laid back down.

The cell tower that we camped by last night.

A few hours later around 6am we both packed up. It was supposed to start pouring rain anytime now. We wanted to pack up before that started if we could. Then we walked back over to the Rockys gas station that we had passed by last night.

At the gas station I grabbed some hash browns and a hot coffee. The place was huge! I would compare it to a Buckeyes rest stop. Then we sat outside to eat and figure out what to do next. It began dumping rain as we sat there under the overhang of the building. But the over hang had holes in it so we were still getting wet.

The women’s bathroom sign at the gas station.

Beer Run sent a box to the post office about 13 miles ahead of where we were. But today is a Sunday. So we won’t be able to get it today even if we get there. Plus there were pretty mixed reviews on the motel in St Marks. We were still in Medart which had a couple hotels too. Last night the best western had been almost $200 which is why we didn’t book it. But I was able to find a deal online for today which made it about $100. Thats not too bad for two people splitting a room on a zero day. We decided to book that and take the day off. Then tomorrow we can get to the post office in St Marks.

It was raining really bad, and we were both starting to get soaked. So we decided to just walk to the best western and hope for the best. It was only around 8:30am but I had hope. When we walked in, I immediately buttered up the lady behind the counter. I was as sweet as could be and explained that we have been walking in the rain. I apologized for being so early for our check in. But she said it was ok and then radioed to the cleaning crew. She had them clean a room for us first! It would only take about an hour.

Waiting in the lobby of the best western to check into our room.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask! When people see that you’re in a tough or uncomfortable situation most of the time they truly want to help. That warmed my heart. We got to sit in the nice dry lobby and watch TV while we waited. The lady at the front desk even offered for us to eat at the breakfast spread if we wanted. She went above and beyond to be accommodating for us. I couldn’t have been more grateful and appreciative.

The fancy fountain at the best western.

We were checked into the room by 9:40am. That was record time for me personally. Then we just got to lounge! I took a hot shower and washed my hair. Then laid all of my gear out to dry in the room. I had to wash my shoes fully in the sink. They were covered in mud and sand from the swamp. Now they are clean but soaking wet. Hopefully they dry over the course of the day.

At the room I laid in bed, rested my body, and got a whole lot of writing done. I had bought some microwave foods at the gas station to eat over the course of the day. Then we got a load of laundry going as well. When we left the room to start a load of laundry, we came back and the door wouldn’t open. The deadbolt was bent and somehow it locked behind us when we left! The door would not open. Maintenance had to come with a screw driver. Beer Run had to unscrew the deadbolt off of the door. That was the only way for us to get back in. I didn’t even know that such a thing was possible!

My insane tan lines from wearing an ace wrap on my leg for 2 months.

While I was doing laundry I actually wound up talking on the phone with Queen Liz. He was in one of my trail families last year on the PCT. It was so amazing to catch up with him. He had a big hiking planned for 2024 and I’m so excited for him. Hopefully our paths are going to cross towards the second half of 2024 as well along a trail. I already have some plans brewing for next years hiking season of course.

After we talked on the phone for about an hour I returned to the room. Then laid in bed and watched TV for the rest of the night. I managed to stay motivated and do a whole lot of writing and blogging as well. Later on in the evening I fell asleep while watching Home Alone, what a classic movie!

Day 276: 18 miles

This morning I slept in pretty late at the room. Last night I got such a great nights sleep. That was wonderful. Eventually I got up and packed my things up a bit. Then we headed over to the continental breakfast. The spreads at the best western hotels pale in comparison to the holiday inn hotels. That’s just an observation. But I still ate a nice meal to start the day.

Back at the room we finished packing and getting ready to go. I wound up talking on the phone with my dad for a while before we headed out.

We aren’t really in any particular rush today. The next town St Marks is only about 13 miles away. We planned to hike in and out of there today and just stop off at the post office. But upon further inspection we realized the post office hours are 9-1pm! Which are absolutely absurd. So it’s pretty unlikely that we’ll make it there before the post office closes.

Walking along a nice bike path going from Medart to St Marks.

Because of that there really isn’t any rush to get there. We’ll probably have to stay somewhere in town to wait for the post office to open tomorrow anyway.

Around 10:30am we checked out of the hotel and got to walking. The weather out was a little bit cold, but made for perfect hiking weather. We followed along a paved bike path as we left town and made our way to St Marks. It was nice leisurely walking. Much better than walking along the road and having to worry about cars.

The bike path leading into St Marks.

Just after 12pm we got to a gas station and stopped off for a break. They served hot food and had a f’real milkshake machine! I got a mint chip shake and then some potato wedges and Mac n cheese. Then we sat outside on the curb to eat. I haven’t had one of those f’real milkshakes in ages and absolutely loved them. A lot of places don’t serve milkshakes, and they are such an amazing source of calories.

A f’real milkshake from the gas station.

After we ate, we got back on the bike path and continued along. We still had about 7-8 miles to go to get to St Marks. I wasn’t sure what exactly our plan was once we got to town. But that’s all part of the adventure.

A cool mural on the side of the building on the walk to St Marks.

We continued along the bike path for another hour or so and were getting closer to town. After crossing over the Wakulla River we walked past a police car. The car had actually driven by us a bunch of times today, maybe 3 or 4 times. When we walked by the officer got out and started talking to us. He said he wished he could be out here doing what we’re doing! It’s a dream of his to hike one of the trails. He said that he had seen us multiple times today and always enjoys talking to hikers. The officer asked us our trail names and said he goes by TAS in the trail community.

We talked with the officer for a bit before continuing along. Then walked along the bike path for another hour before getting into town. St Marks was absolutely adorable. It had a very classic and old school vibe. Just about everything we walked by was closed unfortunately. But we have to wait for the post office tomorrow anyway. Maybe more things will be open then.

St Marks, FL.

There was a restaurant open in town though, The Riverside Cafe. The place was like a big tiki bar. I really didn’t eat too much on our zero day yesterday so I was ready to pig out. It’s tough zeroing with no places around to get food.

I wound up getting mozzarella sticks to start and a patty melt for the meal. The menu had so many great things on it, but I’m a sucker for a patty melt. Whenever I see one on a menu I feel compelled to order it. Who can resist rye bread, thousand island, Swiss cheese, grilled onions, and a burger patty?

Riverside cafe, where we had dinner.

Bathroom selfie inside the riverside cafe.

Everything was really good, and I didn’t regret getting so much food. Before we left, I even got a piece of key lime pie to go. Then we headed out to find a place to spend the night. The trail was right down the road and was a more wooded area. We continued along the trail and went by a nice park with picnic benches. It was away from the road and it was just about to get dark. That seemed like as good a place as any to call it a night.

The sun setting in St Marks, FL. The lighthouse in town even had Christmas lights on it!

I got my tent set up and then sat outside for a while with Beer Run. It was super quiet out and turning into a pretty cold night. Around 7pm I finally had to call it a night and retreat into my tent. It felt so good to warm up in my quilt. I’ve really been loving the katabatic palisade quilt so far. It feels so much cozier than my other sleeping bag. The 30 degree temperature is going to be perfect on these cold nights down in Florida.

Set up in a park just along the FT in St Marks.

Inside my tent I laid for a while and did some writing. Then I eventually called it a night.

Affiliate Disclosure

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.

Comments 5

  • thetentman : Dec 7th

    Gotta love short days when it is flat.


  • Gingerbreadman : Dec 7th

    STOP! Ur making me laugh til I cry. I perfected the bounce box after the AT9 on the PCT93…sent stuff from home about every 200-300 miles …went shopping in big towns & added/subtracted stuff to box sending it 2 or 3 trail towns ahead. In Europe/Australia I had to live off the land… luckily trails go right through towns so no hitching; but sometimes a train or steam train to a bigger city (Europe only). One ski town on the Aussie Alps Walking Track (AAWT) I worked for stay. Then some drunks trashed the place & had to do it again! At least the luge ride down the slopes was fun.

  • SkirtedHiker : Dec 8th

    Another lovely days hiking adventure. Thanks for sharing another chapter.

  • Trek Stop - t.s. : Dec 8th

    Love following your journey. I have been trying to convince my partner to go backpacking and train for a thru hike! Best of luck to you and beer run.

  • Thomas Swiderek : Dec 8th

    How do you keep from athletes foot?


What Do You Think?