My Last Full Day of Hiking the ECT

ECT Day 320&321

Day 320: 26 miles

This morning I slept in until after 7:00 a.m. and so did Trucker. He woke up and I could hear him say that it was light outside. Whoopsies! With the curtains drawn in a room sometimes it seems like you could sleep in all day.

We got up and got packed. Then just after 8:00 a.m. we headed to the continental breakfast to eat something. This hotel had a bunch of different toppings for the waffles, so I couldn’t resist that. Then after we ate a little bit of something we got moving.

Waffles at the continental breakfast.

We’re going to be walking through Marathon this morning and then continuing south. Today is another overcast day but the weather is pretty perfect. I would much rather it be cloudy and overcast than ridiculously hot down here. I don’t need to be sweating ass all day and I also don’t need to get a sunburn. The route that we are following today goes along a bike pass for most of the morning. That’s really nice because then you don’t have to worry about cars. You just have to worry about a biker taking you out.

Found a giant Adirondack chair!

It’s been pretty cool walking the route through the keys that I drove back in 2021. I was traveling around the country around that time and after doing some work for stay in Florida, I drove all the way down to Key West. It was a really beautiful drive and I enjoyed all the sightseeing along the way. Now I’m basically doing that trip all over again. But this time I’m just on foot. It’s been a really cool way to finish off the eastern continental trail.

50 miles to go to Key West.

After Road walking for a couple hours, we went past a gas station. I grabbed a slice of pizza, something to drink, and a couple lunchables to pack out. I sat outside the gas station and ate my pizza. Then I did my stretching before we continued on. Not long after leaving there we would be crossing over the seven-mile bridge. So we both made sure to pee a final time before we set out.

Lunchables fit so well on your pack, it’s like they are meant to be packed out.

Once we set out, we were on the seven-mile bridge in no time. It was funny to look at the expression on people’s faces who were driving by. Most people probably thought it was crazy that we were going to be walking across this entire huge bridge. But there’s no other way to get to Key West. The views were really beautiful along the bridge and there was plenty of shoulder for us to walk on. There is an old bridge that you can walk on for a couple miles, but it doesn’t go all the way to the other side. So you have to walk along the main bridge where cars are driving to get across.

An adorable manatee statue dressed like a little old man.

So far, the entire time we’ve been down here in the keys we haven’t had any issues with cars. Sometimes people aren’t paying attention but there really hasn’t even been a close call. You just have to pay attention while you walk. But you also have to look at the water! At one point while we were walking, I looked over at the water and saw a sea turtle. I only got to see it for a few seconds before it dipped too far under the water. That was really cool though.

Trucker walking along 7 mile bridge.

For a brief moment there were no cars anywhere in sight on 7 mile bridge.

We continued along the bridge and went past a fishing boat a little bit after that. I asked Trucker if boats had horns like cars do. I was curious if we could get a boat to honk at us. One of my favorite things to do along road walks is get semis and other cars to honk their horns at you. So I gestured at the boat on the water, and like clockwork, it honked its horn! That was absolutely epic. You know you’ve rounded out your year of hiking when you’ve done road walks where you get cars and boats to honk at you. It’s really been a wild year.

Found this hilarious shark photo op set up just before 7 mile bridge.

7 mile bridge.

When we finished walking across the seven-mile bridge, we stopped to take a quick break. I didn’t drink any water the entire time because I was so nervous about having to pee. It was a relief to be able to actually pee on the other side, and then start drinking water again. At this point in time, it was a little after 1:00 p.m. Only about 41 miles remain of the Overseas Heritage Trail. I’m so close to being done with the ECT.

42 miles from Key West!

The ocean was looking incredible as we crossed the bridge.

We’re going to do about ten more miles today. That would set us up really well to finish first thing Friday morning. We would probably be able to finish tomorrow evening, but I think it would be nice to finish first thing in the morning. We’ll see what happens.

40 miles to go!

After we left that break and continued on, we walked for about another hour or so. We wound up walking right past an RV park that actually had a big food truck set up. So we got into the RV park to see about getting something quick to eat. I love to get baked beans from barbecue restaurants because they are always so good. I got baked beans and something called cheesy corn. Which wound up being cheesy mayonnaise covered corn that was absolutely delicious. I had never had anything like that and was so glad that I got it.

Cheesy corn.

We sat at some picnic tables at the RV park and had a quick break there. It’s going to be a long night, so I was glad to eat something. When we left there, we continued on without a break for the rest of the day. The miles have been going by pretty slow the last couple of days. I’m not sure if it’s all the road walking or what.

Crossing over one of the bridges.

I listened to music and did some writing while we walked along the road. Today was a perfect overcast day. It was nice and warm in the afternoon, but not scolding hot. Even with all of the clouds out I still got a lot of sun too. I’m not mad about the weather at all.

At some point over the next couple of hours a car pulled over while we were walking. For some reason I didn’t recognize the vehicle at first. But it was Johnny Cash, one of the people who was at the Florida Trail kickoff. He had actually told me to be on the lookout for his particular car. But for some reason it didn’t stick in my mind when I actually saw it. Though I did notice the Appalachian Trail license plate, which is always a good sign.

Trucker and I walking the road.

We talked to him and his wife alongside the road briefly. They were making sure we had a place to stay for the night. We already figured out our accommodations for the night though. It was cool to see the two of them and talk. Then we continued walking along for a couple more hours after that.

Not long after we saw them it started to get dark. My right leg was feeling a little bit sore the last few hours of the day. I’m not really sure if it’s my Achilles or something else. I just feel a little tight and sore. It’s been a long year, so it’s not that surprising. I’m really not particularly worried at this point because I’m almost done.

Trucker walking along the road up ahead of me.

Even after it got dark, I still never put my headlamp on. There was plenty of light from the road, so it wasn’t a problem. We walked for an hour or so after dark, and eventually got to Little Torch Key. There was a place called the Looe Key Reef Resort that had rooms and a tiki bar. When we got there, we sat at the tiki bar and ordered some dinner and got the keys to the room. Everyone there was really nice and some other guests wound up chatting us up. We talked about the hike for a little while and then headed to the room to relax and eat.

I got coconut shrimp and a big soft pretzel for dinner. After eating I took a shower and I laid in bed for the rest of the night. Tomorrow is my last full day of hiking along the eastern continental trail. It’s really hard for me to fully wrap my head around that. The show is about to be over. It feels like I’ve been on trail since the dawn of time. I really don’t know what I’m going to do with myself after this.

Day 321: 26 miles 

Today is my last full day hiking on the eastern continental trail. It’s also day 321 of hiking. By God has it been a long year. I had some people reach out and tell me that I should continue on for another month or so to make it a full year. I don’t feel that I need to do that. Maybe if there was another trail that I wanted to hike, then I might. My body actually feels pretty good. But I think 322 days on the ECT is going to be plenty.

The colorful doors of the motel we stayed at last night.

I slept in this morning until around 7:00 a.m. Then I got up to pack up and get ready for the day. We started hiking sometime after 8am. Our route bought us along a bike path for most of the morning. The time actually flew by and I did a lot of writing to start the day. 

Walking along the bike path this morning.

It was a really beautiful morning. Once again, we got another overcast day down in the keys. I really cannot complain. I’ve been loving the weather down here. This area is incredibly exposed, so the overcast weather has made it all much more tolerable. And as long as it’s not raining, I really do not care.

After walking for a couple hours, we actually walked past a northbound ECT hiker. Trucker was stopped and talking with him when I walked up. I’d actually seen him reposted and Lil Buddha’s Instagram the other day. It’s really cool that the guy is planning to go all the way up into Canada. It just blows my mind to see people at the start of their journeys when I’m at the end of mine.

On one of the old bridges which has been converted into a walking bridge.

Not long after that we stopped off at a gas station to grab something to drink. It was nice to be able to use a restroom and not struggle to find a place to stop. I did my stretching and then we continued on. I spent the whole morning writing until after 10:00 a.m. That felt like a really productive way to start the day.

Beautiful blue water.

In the early afternoon a car pulled over and the girl inside talked to us. Her name was Lil Beast and she hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2019. She just wanted to know if we needed anything which was so nice of her. But with the frequency of gas stations down here, we really don’t need anything ever. It was cool to talk to her though. It’s always awesome to meet a fellow biker.

20 miles from the end of the ECT.

We passed by plenty of gas stations and different places like that over the course of the day. I got a coffee drink at one place so that I could use the bathroom. I actually wound up talking to a woman inside of that gas station who was from the town that I went to high school in. It was crazy when she asked me where in Massachusetts I was from and I knew where she was from. I went to a pretty small school, so for her to have lived in that area was pretty wild.

The big sugary coffee that I got at the gas station.

The bike path crossed under this bridge at one point.

In the afternoon around 1:00 p.m., we walked by a gourmet looking coffee shop. Trucker wanted to stop in to get a late day fix on some coffee. I figured I could get something sugary and delicious there. We both wound up getting an open-faced Cuban sandwich served on an everything bagel. That was so ridiculously delicious. I also got a dirty chai latte, because that’s the best coffee order in the world.

Trucker up ahead through a palm leaf.

We sat outside and ate our Cubans. I drank my delicious iced coffee. We used the indoor plumbing one last time before we continued onto the roads and bridges. All day today I am having so much trouble wrapping my head around the fact that today is the last full day of hiking. Today is the last full day of the ECT.  

The purple porpoise pub.

Some strangers stopped us today and were asking us what we were doing. One guy asked how we were going to celebrate when we were done. And it’s just so funny to think about being done at all. You think you want to have some big giant celebration or something. But in reality, you just get to the finish line and then your hike ends. It’s going be so interesting to see all of the thoughts, feelings, and emotions around finishing.

The iced dirty chai latte that I got.

Leaving my coffee break I was feeling super high energy. There was a double shot of espresso in that latte, so I was flying high. I’m not really a coffee drinker or a big caffeine person. So I like to use it as my secret weapon when I have it on occasion. On this next stretch of road walking, we continued along a bike path. I did a bit of writing and I was feeling energized. After I finished that I listened to music for an hour or so.

Crossing over yet another bridge.

The rest of the day absolutely flew by. The coffee got me energized, but I was feeling really mentally energized. We kept passing the mile markers along the road and it was blowing my mind how close we were getting to the end. Just before 4:00 p.m., we dropped under ten miles. My entire ECT journey is going to be over in ten miles.

Down to single digits!

Trucker said that he booked a place for the night close to the end of the trail. That way we can get in this evening and then have a really short walk to the finish in the morning. That’s just what I wanted to do personally. For those last couple hours of the day, I danced around and listened to music. I was feeling really good.

Incredible crystal clear waters.

Hanging on for dear life at mile marker 5! I’m so close to the end now it’s absolutely crazy.

Just before it got dark, the road turned and we were back by the ocean again. The rest of our walk went past the Key West international airport on one side and the ocean on the other. We got such incredible ocean views as a sun set. What a perfect day. I still can’t fully comprehend with this hike is about to end tomorrow. Technically, it really should’ve ended today. I easily could have made it to the terminus, but I want one more night on the Eastern Continental Trail.

Trucker up ahead along the sidewalk. The views were so nice as the sun was setting.

We were walking along the road going past the strip with different hotels. At this point we were only about two miles from the southernmost point of Key West. When we went past Margaritaville I got excited and made a joke comment to Trucker. I absolutely love Jimmy Buffett and have been talking about Margaritaville all year. Then Tucker turned and crossed the street and headed over to the hotel! As a surprise he had booked for us to spend the last night of the ECT at Margaritaville.

Arriving at Margaritaville!

We veered off the road and headed towards Margaritaville. I was so insanely happy as we headed inside. What an epic final hotel stay along the eastern continental trail. In the lobby we got complementary margaritas. And we headed upstairs to get clean and relax. I can’t believe that only two miles remain tomorrow and then I’ll be done. I’m nearly the second woman to complete the Eastern continental trail. All I have to do is walk two more miles.

I took my last shower and then got comfortable. When I came out of the room a Jimmy Buffett concert was playing on television. That was a blast to watch. I love Jimmy Buffett! This is the coolest hotel. Trucker made the end of this journey so special and incredible for me. I’m so grateful for him coming down.

It was around 7:30 p.m. at this point and the two of us were just about finished getting cleaned at the room. Then we wound up going downstairs for some dinner. I got a pina colada and a pasta dish. It’s so crazy to think that this is the last supper along the ECT! The hike would have ended tonight if I had wanted it to. But I’m happy to get one last night.

After we ate, we headed back to the room to relax. Tomorrow I will only have two miles to go to complete the eastern continental trail. We will probably sleep in a bit at the room. Then we’ll walk those final two miles to the southernmost point. That will mark the end of my hike across the eastern continental trail! I have walked 5,528 miles so far in the last 321 days. As of tomorrow, I will be the second woman to complete the eastern continental trail from key west to Newfoundland Canada.

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Comments 24

  • Chris : Jan 12th

    I get a kick out of meeting people from my hometown as well, sometimes I think they’re pulling my leg.

    Wow,.. 2 miles to go,.. I don’t think I’d be able to sleep knowing I had that little bit remaining.

  • Rens : Jan 12th

    Reading about your travels has been both inspiring and entertaining, and I’ll be both happy and sad to see you reach the end of this journey. Happy because I’ve been rooting for you, sad because this story will basically be over. It is truly an impressive achievement.

    Your posts have inspired me take up hiking again, something I’ve not done in over 20 years, and I’m much happier for it. Currently planning my first thru hike in decades.

    By now you’ve hopefully already crossed the finish line, so congratulations and thank you for letting us all tag along.

  • Old Man Paul : Jan 12th

    Awesome. Period.

  • Smitty : Jan 12th

    Incredible you made it seem easy congratulations 👏🎉

  • Patricia Major : Jan 12th

    Been following your journey from the beginning. It is simply incredible. Averaging 17 miles a day for just short of a year is such an amazing feat. You are a strong, powerful person. Congratulations!! Please celebrate!!!

  • Rushmore : Jan 12th

    Enjoy the end! Best wishes for your next journey, whatever it may be!

  • Holly : Jan 12th

    How wonderful you stayed healthy and strong and without incident achieve your hiking goals!! WHOOHOOO! I’m going to miss your updates. Please contact Outside Magazine so they can do an article on thru hikers. You’ve got the cover photo already with that shot of the swamp with the sun glinting off the water.
    Catch you down the road. Peace

  • Blue : Jan 12th

    I know you mentioned that you aren’t sure what is next for you. But seriously you’re up for a pretty big transition…. I am really very curious to see where the world takes you next. Be proud of yourself chin up chest out. Pretty amazing what you have accomplished. Good luck with whatever comes your way.

  • Jabez : Jan 12th

    Congrats! Almost there! Not sure if I met Lil Beast on my AT thru in 2019 but I know name sounds familiar. Always nice to meet other hikers. See her pic in the yearbook. 🥾

  • Lisa : Jan 12th

    I’ve been following you since the Pinhoti Trail! So excited for the finish of your journey! But I’ll really be missing your posts, which I always look forward to. Best of luck to you in all your future endeavors.
    Have you considered doing the CDT? I’d love to follow you as you crush that trail!

  • Jabez : Jan 12th

    Hi again. I stayed with Lil Beast at Blood Mountain Cabins along with Tumbleweed and 18 on April 4th 2019. Knew name was familiar!

  • Jenny : Jan 12th

    Hi, I’m Jenny from Wyoming. I’m not much of a hiker other than short day trips, but I’m fascinated by thru-hiking. I stumbled upon your posts at the very beginning and I’ve been following you ever since! It’ll be hard to not log in every day to look for updates but I’m so excited for you to finish.

  • DEB : Jan 12th

    Just awesome and amazing! I’ll miss your posts, what a terrific adventure that you have shared with us all. You made me start planning for reaching beyond day hikes to some plans for backpacking & dreams of a possible AT thru hike. I live in Western Mass & plan on the section in the Berkshires and Goose pond this summer. You are an inspiration! you will do something great, after you have a rest!

  • bricks : Jan 12th

    You could probably make your own trail if you want to, at this point

  • Kim : Jan 13th

    I have followed your journey from the beginning. I have truly enjoyed it. I am not physically able to hike any more. Last year I was diagnosed with cancer. Your journey has reminded me and re-confirmed that seemingly impossible things can be done by just by determination and one step at a time. Thank you for taking me a long on your journey. You have greatly inspired me in my personal journey. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • Beth : Jan 13th

      Congratulations Peg Leg! I have been following your journey from Alabama to Nova Scotia and then down to Key West. What an amazing trip! I just picked you at random and was fascinated with your travels and courage. Best wishes on your next adventure!

  • Crispino : Jan 13th

    Congrats Peg Leg, this is an amazing accomplishment. Finishing in Key West was a great idea, it’s such an awesome place. My parents used to live on the key where you stopped for your coffee break (shout out to Baby’s Coffee, that place rocks!). It’s been fun to watch you get closer and closer to all these places I know as you reach the end of your journey. I’m prepping for a 2024 AT NOBO attempt and your blog has helped to get a sense of the day to day rhythm, so thank you for that. Congrats on finishing and I hope you take some time to enjoy Key West! Have a drink at the outdoor bar at Blue Heaven and go for dinner at the Cafe, the best restaurant in the whole wide world IMO. Have fun and congrats again!

  • Richard E. Smith : Jan 13th

    I’ve enjoyed following your journey. I will miss your posts when you finish. Congratulations and the best to you. Look forward to reading about your next adventure. 😀

  • Bharat Gandhi : Jan 13th

    Very inspiring journey and your commitment to pursue! I feel very proud of you to spend time to reach your goals … BRAVO! GOD BLESS YOU ON ALL NOBLE GOALS!

  • Bharat Gandhi : Jan 13th

    Very proud of you!

  • Three Dog Night : Jan 13th

    Well done, Peg Leg! I’ve been reading your blog since August, went back to the beginning of your journey, and have immensely enjoyed rooting for you. I wish you all the best as you delve into 2024. Be well, continue to do good, and be happy:)

  • Deek : Jan 13th

    Really a fun journey with you. So many of us have followed your travels all the way – and enjoyed each and every minute of all of them. Do remember that as you finish and reflect on where you’ve come from and what’s next for you. Life is a series of chapters. – this one you will surely remember for the rest of your life. You have really, truly accomplished a lot with this journey. Congratulate your self. Your self expanded her horizons with this venture big time. You are indeed an inspiration.

    In addition to the incredible physical and mental challenges of hiking over 5,500 miles, you juggled the writing of a fun blog almost day by day that has given so many of us such fond enjoyment. You pulled off that juggling very, very well. That, too, is a fabulous accomplishment.

    We are grateful you took us all along on this adventure. Thank you. Job very well done!

  • R Taylor : Jan 13th

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! I’ve enjoyed coming along with you on your adventure!!! Well-done!

  • Zach : Jan 15th

    Was a blast following along, Peg Leg. Congrats on an epic journey.


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