Losing My Umbrella Before a Storm
ECT Day 281&282
Day 281: 27 miles
Last night it began raining fairly early. I was so glad to be under the protection of the picnic area. We wound up sleeping in this morning before packing up. It’s supposed to rain all day and neither of us were in any rush to embark on that.
Leaving the picnic area we attempted to continue along the trail. But within 10 feet we were met with tons of blow downs again. So we opted to follow around the trail on a dirt road. If the next 10+ miles are all damaged by the hurricane then it could take us all day to hike through. Yesterday we were moving at about 1 mile per hour. Neither of us have enough food on us to hike like that. It’s sad that we’re missing some of the Suwannee section. It’s supposed to be some of the best trail on the whole FT. But continuing to bushwhack like we did yesterday would be ridiculous.
The rain held off for a while as we began our day. We followed along dirt roads and then eventually got onto an asphalt road. After an hour or so it began to rain lightly. I was so bummed out that I lost my umbrella yesterday. It’s the perfect thing to have when the rain is light. Bundling up in rain gear just sucks. You wind up sweating and getting wet on the inside and outside of your jacket.
When we passed by a covered bridge we could resist stopping off briefly. It was perfectly protected from the rain. Then we walked for another few hours after that. The rain picked up and even in full rain gear I was pretty wet. It was hot out so I was sweating and my gear was condensating. In the afternoon we passed another bridge and looked to see if we could go down below. There was a road we could take to go hide under the bridge. That was such a relief. Otherwise we would have probably just kept walking.
When we left that spot we walked for another hour or so. Originally we planned to stop off at the Holton Creek River camp. I was hoping that south of there the trail would be clear. The comments though on Far Out were not promising. It said that the camp was closed from hurricane damage, and that only some of the trail had been cleared. When we came to the junction we had to make a decision. If we veered off toward the camp then we would have to hope that the trail was clear. If we got back on trail and it was covered in blow downs we would have to backtrack to get to another road.
In the end we wound up deciding to continue on the road. There were no updated comments on trail conditions because very few hikers are on trail this time of year. We decided instead to continue going around on adjacent and paralleling roads. Sadly that means we miss out on even more of the Suwannee section. But the section has been absolutely demolished. It was tough to enjoy yesterday when all we were doing was climbing over trees.
That meant we would be road walking for the rest of today and some of tomorrow. In the afternoon the rain had picked up a lot. At one point it was the heaviest rain that I’d ever hiked in. I was completely soaked in my rain gear and pretty damn uncomfortable. Someone wound up pulling over though and handed me an umbrella out the window! They had driven by and went back home to grab it and bring it to me. I felt so incredibly grateful. At least now I can begin drying out.
It continued to pour rain for the rest of the day. I was so happy to have an umbrella! The trail truly provides. We kept on moving and didn’t get another good opportunity to break. The rain continued coming down heavily for the next couple of hours. I was cold and wet and ready to be done.
Around 4:30pm we passed by a road junction with a travel center. There was a Wendy’s inside so we headed over to get some food. I was really hoping to dry off and warm up. We thought that we might be able to get an Uber from there to White Springs, FL. It was only 16 more miles by foot. But if we got a ride over then we could dry off tonight. Then get a ride back out tomorrow to finish up those 16 miles.
That was a short lived plan though. I ate food in the Wendy’s and took off some of my soaked gear. The idea of putting it back on and hiking more felt impossible. I had no desire to do that. Plus it was still dumping rain. But there were no ubers, so that was the only option.
It got dark while we hung out at the gas station. Then we sadly had to put our soaking wet gear back on and keep hiking. Another 4-5 miles down the road was a church. Hopefully we can camp there tonight. Then tomorrow it will be about 11 miles to get to White Springs.
Those next couple hours were tough. My thighs and butt cheeks were chaffing so bad. Usually when I’m soaking wet for hours that happens. It’s so uncomfortable. As we were getting closer to the church we passed some houses with dogs. The dogs barked at us but didn’t seem to interested. Once we walked by though I could hear the dog running down the street behind us in the dark! Thank god I heard it nails on the asphalt. I turned around to see it coming towards me and yelled at it. Then it headed back to its house.
It had stopped raining for that last hour of the evening. That was an amazing surprise. Though when we finally got to the church we were a bit disappointed. The rain had caused so much water to build up on the ground. Most of the grass around the church was saturated with 1inch-6inches of water. Beer Run tarps and sleeps on the ground, so that wasn’t going to work. I walked around to see if we could find a small area that was more dry.
Eventually Beer Run found a spot that could work. I was glad because the mosquitos were horrendous. I quickly set up my tent and got inside. Everything I owned was soaked. I stripped off my clothes and got into my sleeping bag. Then laid there for a while. My phone had gotten pretty wet today and wouldn’t charge. But I was able to dry it out and eventually it was working again.
I wound up laying up on my phone for a long time. Tomorrow we’ll head into White Springs, which has an iconic bed and breakfast. They cater to hikers and it’s only $25 a night for your own room. We’ll be able to dry off there and do our laundry. I’m really looking forward to that.
Day 282: 11 miles
This morning we packed up around 6am and got moving. That site had been perfect last night. I stayed nice and dry and it hardly rained over the course of last night and this morning.
Today we are finally heading to town to get dry! I’m excited about that. Plus we haven’t taken a day off in about a week. It’s going to be nice to enjoy some rest.
The weather was perfect as we walked this morning. We watched a beautiful sunrise and followed along the road. It began to sprinkle rain lightly around 8am but it wasn’t too bad. I pulled out my umbrella and it kept me perfectly dry. I’m so thankful for that umbrella. Yesterday would have been so much more miserable without it.
After about 3 hours of walking we stopped off briefly. I did some stretching and relaxed. It wasn’t far from there to White Springs. We continued along and around 11am got into town. On the outskirts of town there was a gas station. I grabbed a Yoo-hoo and a Powerade. Then we continued along the road to the Main Street area.
The next gas station that we passed apparently did hot food. Both of us were starving so we stopped off there to grab something. I housed 2 slices of pizza so fast. Then we kept walking through White Springs. Eventually we made our way to White Springs Bed&Breakfast. Judith who runs the place was out on the porch with her dog. It was a big beautiful dog that kind of looked like scooby doo.
Judith showed us around and got us settled in. The place is eclectic and has a fun energy. It reminds me of the Hearn Inn in Georgia along the Pinhoti trail. Each room has one bed and is surprisingly big. It will be cool to have my own private room for the night! That always feels like such a luxury.
Once we got settled in I laid all my things out to dry. Judith let us lay our tents on the porch and everything else in our rooms. Then we took turns showering and piled our laundry together. It felt so good to get comfortable, dry, and be able to relax.
After I showered I walked down the road to dollar general. I wanted to grab a couple things to eat over the course of today and tomorrow. I also need some tooth paste, contact solution, ibuprofen, and a couple more odds and ends. When I finished up there I headed back to the bed and breakfast. Judith had made some bean soup for us to eat which was so good. I sat on the porch with her and Beer Run to eat.
Once I finished eating I hung outside for a while. It was so nice to play with some dogs and relax. The big dog at the house is the sweetest thing. Truly a gentle giant. She puts all of her weight into you and wants to snuggle. I hung outside for a long time and then headed in. I haven’t watched hardly any TV this year but decided to download the Netflix app. That way I have something to watch while I lounge today and tomorrow.
Around 6pm Judith made dinner for us so I headed downstairs to eat. She really treats hikers like family. She made a baked potato, a hamburger, and some veggies. It was delicious. Then I went back upstairs to lounge for the rest of the night. I’m so looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow!
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