Hiking Bonus Miles to Pensacola Beach

ECT Day 259&260

Day 259: 23 miles

This morning I was up around 5am and we were walking by 6am. We left the campground and followed along roads past there. Once we got going we walked for a couple of hours and then stopped off for a quick break.

A river flowing alongside the trail. We followed along the river for miles.

After sitting briefly and eating something we kept moving. Both of us are pretty low on food and we still have about 10 miles to go until we come to a road where we can hitch to a store. We wound up walking for another couple of hours after that. Then stopped again for a quick breather. It’s just nice to rest your feet every now and then while road walking. The pavement pounds down on your soles.

One of the brand new boardwalks along the trail. Though the trail itself was dry!

Once we left there we pushed on to get to the store. After another couple of hours we came to the road where we could hitch into Munson. We began hitching but weren’t having much luck. After 10-15 minutes I was getting a bit disappointed. But you just have to be patient!

Sitting along the road, hoping for a hitch!

Eventually a schoolie conversion bus pulled over for us. The guy inside offered to take us down the road to Munson. There is a gas station there where we’re hoping to resupply. It was cool to get to ride in the back of the conversion bus. The guy recently ripped everything out inside and is starting from scratch.

Beer Run in the front seat of the schoolie hitch.

He dropped us off and the gas station and we headed to the store. There was a cute kitty cat outside the store. I gave it some pats and then went into the store. Inside I grabbed some snacks and drinks. Then we sat across the street at a picnic table to eat. Beer Run got a microwaveable sandwich which looked good. So I wound up getting two myself. One for now and one for later.

This adorable kitty lived outside of the gas station. It had a serious habit of begging for food!

The kitty lurking, hoping for a bite of something.

We hung out at the store for a while. Then someone who was sitting outside of the store offered to drive us back to the trailhead. That was a godsend, because it seemed like hitching was going to take a while.

We were back on trail around 1:30pm which was better than I expected. That next stretch of trail was really pretty and cruisy. We went through a forested area that seemed more like a jungle. And followed along a river for most of the afternoon. It was one of my favorite stretches of trail that I’ve hiked in a long time. I missed the woods so much. The road is certainly not the same.

The trail through a recently burned area of the trail. There appear to be a lot of controlled burns in Florida.

Before it got dark we passed by a junction for a shelter. I didn’t realize that we would be going past shelters on this trail. We stopped off to check it out. But once we saw it we couldn’t resist camping there for the night. It was only 5pm but a fantastic site. Both of us got set up in the shelter and then hung out.

The shelter that we set up in for the night.

It’s the perfect time of year down in Florida right now. There haven’t been any bugs at all. It’s nice and hot during the day but not too hot. I’ve been enjoying myself. We hung out in the shelter, snacked, and then called it a night.

Day 260: 21 miles

This morning we packed up fairly early inside the shelter. It poured rain all night last night. I was so happy that we were dry inside the shelter. That was really fortunate.

By 6:30am we were up and walking. It was a cloudy day but unbelievably humid. Within the first hour I was soaked in sweat, even before the sun was fully out. The trail was beautiful though starting the day. We continued walking through what felt like a jungle. I enjoyed following along a river for most of the morning.

The river that we walked along this morning. The beach was white and soft and the water was very clear.

A couple hours into the day the trail brought us right past a picnic area. It was super nice with covered tables and a bathroom. We stopped there for a quick break. I’m so pleasantly surprised by how well maintained this section of trail is. It’s not even technically the florida trail. But it’s been very well managed regardless.

A really incredible tree along the trail. You could see it from far off in the distance as you approached.

After our break we kept it moving. We would be passing right by a gas station in a few hours which kept us motivated. Around noon we had walked about 12-13 miles and arrived at the station.

Around this time during the day I was corresponding with a hiker Animal. I met a few hikers with that name this year on trail but never met this particular Animal. He reached out to me on Instagram though because he lives near the florida trail. Technically the Eastern Continental Trail goes from the Alabama road walk, to the black water connector, to the florida trail. But it doesn’t connect at the start of the florida trail. It connects about 60 miles into the florida trail if you’re heading south. Originally we didn’t plan to hike those extra 60 miles to the northern terminus of the FT because of logistics. But Animal reached out to me and said that if we wanted to head west towards Pensacola he could give us a ride later.

Walking along a boardwalk. They were very slippery from the rain though.

That means that when we connect to the florida trail we can actually head west to Pensacola. Then he’ll give us a ride back east to where the florida trail continued on heading. Otherwise we were going to just head east once we finish the black water connector. But then we wouldn’t be able to do the “entire” Florida trail. I’m hiking far too many miles this year to be bypassing any major ones! So it’s looks like we just added on 60 miles for fun. That was a funny game time decision. We completely changed our plan for the next couple of days all in a matter of minutes. But I’m excited that we’ll be heading towards the beach.

It’s funny how quickly plans can change out here. Logistically it really wasn’t going to be an easy feat to hike those extra miles. But thanks to Animal it won’t be a problem at all. It will just be an extra 2 days of walking. Which isn’t much in the grand scheme of things on trail.

Beer Run walking along the boardwalk ahead of me.

When we got to the gas station we headed inside for some food and drinks. I got a slice of pizza and an ice cream. We sat outside for a while. Then began walking West! It felt really weird to be going that way. The last few days I was dead set that we would be heading East. Oh how things change!

When we left the gas station I had pretty good service. I was finally able to finish putting together the video on my phone that I made about the International Appalachian trail. The individual who runs the treks social media pages gave me the go ahead to do an “Instagram takeover” today. So I posted a reel that I made about the IAT and also put some stories up on the Instagram. Basically just explaining what I’ve been doing so far this year. It all seemed to go really well which was great.

I’m shocked how clear the water has been so far alongside the trail and road.

Later on in the afternoon it began raining lightly. Fortunately it wasn’t too bad. But it’s supposed to rain a whole lot more tonight. I wound up talking on the phone with my mom for a long while as we walked. Then around 3pm we crossed into another town.

On our way into town we got to walk down a historic brick road.

Our first stop was at a Piggly Wiggly. Then we walked down the street to a Waffle House to eat. I’ve actually never eaten at a Waffle House before! Somehow even after living and traveling out of my vehicle for almost 2 years. We sat down to eat and everything came out really fast. I got a waffle and a two egg breakfast with smothered hash browns. It was all so good.

My first Waffle House experience!

After we ate we debated what to do next. It was already pretty late in the day and raining out. The idea of continuing along and setting up camp alongside the road, in the rain, somewhere did not sound appealing. There was a motel just a mile or so down the road. So we wound up deciding to stop off there for the night.

Posing for a picture in the CCTV camera at the gas station by the Blackwater Inn.

Nothing more American than a Mountain Dew Christmas tree in a gas station!

We arrived at the Blackwater Inn around 5pm and got checked in. I was happy with our decision. It was nice to get inside and dry off. Then I got to take a hot shower and lounge around for the rest of the night. Tomorrow we will continue on, heading to Pensacola.

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Comments 3

  • thetentman : Nov 27th

    Great post.



    • Greg : Nov 27th

      Waffle House and a mountain of mountain dew.

      Welcome to the south. 🙂

      “The pavement pounds down on your soles.”

      Is it soles like feet? Or souls like spirit? Either could work when it comes to road walking.

  • Dee Nerem : Nov 27th

    I wonder of you have “hikers rash.” It is an exercise-induced vasculitis. It can cause spots on legs, swelling, and intense itching, stinging, pain, or burning. Just a guess, but I am not a medical doctor.


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