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Brian "Gadget" Lewis
Begins: Jan 19, 2016
Date: Tue, Jan 19th, 2016
Start: Big Cypress Visitor Center
End: Seven Mile Camp
Daily Distance: 6.8
Trip Distance: 6.8
Entry Visits: 304
Journal Visits: 8,599
Guestbook Views: 117
Guestbook Entrys: 5
My plane left Seattle an hour late, which made the starting schedule a little tighter than I hoped, but it still worked out fine. I met up with Carl and Ed in their motel room, integrated into my pack some gear and food I had mailed ahead to Ed (so that I could avoid checking baggage), then we walked to the nearby McDonald's where we had a hasty breakfast and met our ride, trail angel Miriam.
It's quite a drive from Miami to the trailhead, so we were very grateful for the ride. This is one of the toughest logistics bits on the Florida Trail, just getting started at the Southern Terminus.
We talked to the rangers there, filled out our little permit sheet and wandered briefly along their tourist boardwalk. There was an alligator to view there, a fine sight for out-of-state boys who would soon be wading in the nearby swamp.
It was 11:40 by the time we started hiking. I started out feeling fine, even a bit jubilant, despite not having slept much on my redeye flight. The very initial bit of trail was fine firm ground.
But as we had been warned at the Visitor Center, that all too quickly changed.
We had planned to hike to Ten Mile Camp, but given our start time, the swamp "trail" conditions, and it being our first day on trail (always takes more time for camp chores the first night), we wisely opted to stop at Seven Mile Camp. It took us just about exactly 4 hours to hike these 6.8 miles. Making things tougher for me personally was that my lack of sleep began to be felt, leaving me sloshing along feeling something of a zombie. It was good to stop for the day.
We had read someone's report from earlier in the month saying that in the first 10 miles it was about 20% ankle deep water on the trail, and 80% dry or mostly dry. We found these ratios to be reversed, not much more than 20% dry trail. Ed and Carl (who drove down here from Green Bay) said that a couple of inches of rain had fallen recently. Rats.
On the upside, it was a lovely day, cooler apparently than what they've been experiencing here, yet still shirtsleeve weather for a hiker, and no bugs. We saw what we thought was an egret, and Carl pointed out a small deer on our trail just ahead of us. And an owl has been rather vocal near our camp this evening.
Based on how wet the trail is, we're thinking this stretch is going to be even harder than anticipated. Hopefully we can do two 10 mile days in these conditions and then 4 more miles on Jan 22 will get us to I-75 and out of swamp walking conditions. And for me, I'm hopeful that a good night's sleep will make a big difference.
Gadget's Trail Journal
The Florida Trail is one of eleven National Scenic Trails in the United States currently running 1,000 miles, with a total of 1,300 miles planned, from Big Cypress National Preserve to Fort Pickens at Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola Beach. Learn more: www.floridatrail.org
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