Saving a Puppy on the Road in Florida

ECT Day 269&270

Day 269: 27.5 miles

This morning I was up around 6am after sleeping like a rock last night. I’ve been sleeping so well ever since getting back to the states.

We packed up nice and slow and were walking around 7am. The trail was easy going and my body felt good. After an hour or so we stopped off quickly to each pull some more snacks out. I’ll definitely be low by the time that we get to town. But that just means that I’m packing food right!

Over the next stretch of miles the trail was pretty overgrown. There were a lot of blow downs to navigate around as well. I was a little surprised to be bushwhacking on this trail. But the most popular time to hike the Florida Trail is the first few months of the year. So this really isn’t a particular busy time. It makes sense that the trail would grow out if few people are walking it.

A river just off the road.

I was surprised that over the course of the day we actually did a good bit of “climbing” too. The trail was just rolling hills continuously. We would climb up and go down. The climbs weren’t hard or anything, but they existed! After walking on flat ground for so long I think I actually enjoyed it  

Yet another selfie along the road.

Around 10:30am we stopped off for another quick break. The last few miles had been pretty slow going with the over grown trail. Even after our break we got back to it and the trail was pretty rough. But after a while we got through the blow downs and over grown trail. We reached a section that clearly had been recently maintained. It seemed like someone was camping out and doing trail maintenance. The miles that followed were all perfectly manicured which was great.

We passed this map along the trail. My finger is pointed to roughly where we are along the FT as of today.

It was great to be back on a well groomed trail. Eventually we stopped off for some water when we passed a source. At this point we were about 7 miles from a dollar general. We’ll be able to get enough food there to get us to Blountstown. Not far past the dollar general is also a church. It’s apparently one of the best hostels along the florida trail! I’m hoping to spend the night there tonight. We haven’t done laundry in 13 days so it’s long overdue. I called the church and spoke to Pastor Forrest. He said they they would be expecting us this evening.

A little gnome statue. This section of trail had tons of little figurines along the trail.

When we got to the dollar general we grabbed what we needed. Then sat outside to snack and take a break. A guy who was there filling up propane wound up talking to us for a while. He was pretty interested in what we were doing. But more than anything just wanted to talk about hiking and backpacking.

Leaving the dollar general we continued along the road. After a couple miles we passed an intersection and a car pulled over near us. Someone got out and walked over to talk to us. It was actually Pastor Forrest. He wanted to see if we needed a ride to the hostel. Apparently some hikers will skip up and just go to the hostel once they call him. But we said that we were set on walking it all. At this point we were maybe 6-7 miles from the church hostel. We let him know that we’d be there in about 2 hours.

Beautiful blue cloudy skies.

As we walked it got dark. We became a bit more cautious along the road. But it fortunately wasn’t a super busy road. Around 7pm we finally arrived at the hostel. It was a little bit later than I had expected. Sometimes it’s hard to predict how long walking will take. Especially if you take breaks along the way.

Once the sun set the sky was grey and cloudy, but still so bright.

When we arrive Pastor Forrest and his wife greeted us. They showed us around he “Wilton Hilton” as it’s called. The building that we would be staying in had two separate rooms with beds. There was a living room area and a TV. The fridge inside was stocked with drinks and snacks. There was another building just around the corner with a bathroom, shower, and laundry machines. Forrest and his wife even cooked us pork chops, mashed potato’s, and apples. They left the food wrapped to go on the table for us. By god, those lovely humans treated us like royalty!

The Wilton Hilton at the Hillcrest Baptist Church.

Pork chops, mashed potatoes, and apples. Courtesy of Pastor Forrests amazing wife.

The pastor and his wife headed home for the night after showing us around. Then we got situated inside. I ate a big ole plate of pork chops and potatoes. It was so delicious. Then took a nice hot shower. We got a load of laundry going after that.

The washing machine wound up taking over 2 hours to wash which was wild. But I was just happy that we were doing laundry at all. I stayed up until 11pm waiting for the wash to finally finish. Then I was able to put the laundry in the dryer and call it a night.

Day 270: 19 miles

This morning we slept in at the Wilton Hilton. It was cool sleeping alone in my own room for once in a while. It’s great hiking with other people but you really don’t get a ton of privacy or time to yourself. I always enjoy having a room to myself.

The shower/laundry/kitchen building on the church property. The other building that we slept in didn’t have running water.

We were in no rush to pack up and leave. Forrest and his wife had said they wanted to come by around 9am to talk with us. Then we would hike out after that. While I waited I did some writing and laid some gear outside to dry a bit. It’s supposed to rain a bunch today so I was hoping to dry my tent in case I’ll be sleeping in it tonight.

When Pastor Forrest and his wife returned we chatted for a bit. It’s incredible all that they are doing to help hikers. The two of them prayed over us. There have been a couple moments this year where an individual prayed over me. It always gives me such a warm feeling. To think that someone is putting out affirmations about your well-being, safety, and success in your hike. Then we grabbed our things and headed on our way. It began to rain almost as soon as we began walking.

Those next couple of hours were pretty miserable. It rained continuously and was super heavy. Though it was still pretty hot out. I tried hiking in my rain jacket and pants but couldn’t handle it. Then wound up just wearing the rain pants. That was a rookie move though. My whole ass wound up getting soaked because of water running down the pack. I should have known that that was going to happen.

A beautiful river just off the road.

We made the most of the poor weather and just continued along. At one point we passed a closed down store and were able to hide under the over hang for a while. Sometime within the next hour the rain lightened up too. That was great. For a while I was thinking that it was going to pour all day.

The reflective door at the closed convenience store. We hung out under the buildings over hang for a bit to get out of the rain.

About 10-12 miles into the day we went by a gas station. We stopped off and each grabbed some drinks and snacks. Then sat outside to chill for a little while. It wasn’t raining anymore so we were able to relax a bit. I was already drying out a whole lot.

Leaving there I decided to call my dad and talk on the phone for a while. It was great to catch up. While I was on the phone along the road a couple of dogs ran out at me. I was on the opposite side of the street but they crossed and began to bark at me. One got a little too close and made me nervous. My poor dad could just hear me screaming on the phone for the dog to stay back. I was totally fine though.

A few minutes later while I was walking I felt something down by my foot. A puppy which had been in the same yard had actually followed me down the road! It was so damn cute and chunky. I reached my hand down and he immediately snuggled up to me and rolled around on the ground. By god was it love at first sight. He was the cutest little thing ever. I seriously thought about keeping him.

The puppy was running along the side of the road but also in the road. I had to block cars a couple of times because he was right in the middle of a busy road. I knew that I couldn’t take him with me. But I also didn’t have it in me to just leave him! He would have definitely gotten hit by a car. I wound up luring him back down the road. Then picked him up and ran him across the street.

I could see some people were home at the house where I had seen the puppy. So I hollered over as I dropped the puppy back in the yard. A kid came outside and the dog went running back. That was a relief. I loved that dog even though I barely knew him. Even though I couldn’t keep him I still didn’t want him to wind up hurt.

Snuggling the adorable puppy that followed after me.

We continued on walking after that. I had to call my dad back because I’d abruptly gotten off the phone to deal with that. But my mission was successful! Then we kept on going to Blountstown.

By the time that we were going to get into town the USPS was certainly going to be closed. Beer Run and I had both had packages sent to that post office. So we’ll have to hang around somewhere tonight to wait. Then we can pick the boxes up tomorrow hopefully.

The bike path which led us into Blountstown.

Around 5pm we walked right into town. Our first destination was somewhere to get food. The town was pretty spread out so we had to be smart with our choice. I was dying to go to the Chinese buffet there but it was way too far. We wound up going to a Mexican restaurant instead.

I was so happy with my decision after we got our food. That was some of the best Mexican food that I’d had in ages. I got a burrito loaded with chorizo, rice, beans, grilled onions, and cheese. I even got extra rice and beans on the side because I was feeling ravenous. Everything came out quickly and was amazing. I can’t remember the last time I had such a good burrito. Chorizo is one of my favorite meats but you don’t often see it on the menu places.

The amazing chorizo burrito that I got at the Mexican restaurant.

After we ate we had to figure out what to do next. There was a motel a couple miles down the road which was really our only option. Plus comments on Far Out indicated that the guy who ran the motel really catered to hikers. I was hopeful that he would be able to drive us back to the post office tomorrow morning when it opens.

I called and there were rooms available. So we walked over there to check in and finally get dry. Our feet have been wet all day long. The couple who ran the Airport Motel were both so nice. They offered us a ride to the post office tomorrow when it opens at 10am. They said they would even bring us back to the motel so that we didn’t have to redo any miles.

The Airport Motel.

The lobby was the Airport Motel was all pink! I thought that was cool.

We got checked in and comfortable. The room was perfect. Both of us laid our stuff out to dry. It felt so nice to take off my soaking wet shoes and socks. Then I showered and just laid in bed for the rest of the night.

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Comments 3

  • thetentman : Dec 3rd

    More fun times. Thx.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  • Jenny : Dec 3rd

    I’m enjoying this Florida trail blog just as much as the ups and downs of your AT days. You are making the trail and the Florida community come alive for me. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Old Man Paul : Dec 4th

    I’m glad you’re safe. I pray often for your safe passage and the completion of your journey. You’re posts are awesome. They’d make a good book and possible documentary. God bless and Happy Trails.

    Reply

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