Friday, February 1, 2008

I'd Walk 500 Miles, and I'd Walk 500 more....

The next couple of days were particularly uneventful, and honestly, nothing exciting happened, so you can safely skip this post. =)

There was still about 30 miles left to do of the section I had skipped, and we decided to break it into roughly two 15 mile segments. The trail mostly followed dikes alongside canals in the area, crossing CR 835 at the halfway point. Additionally, because we'd been driving CR 835 the last two days while I was hiking the reservation, we knew that there were several picnic tables alongside the road that either of us could wait at for the other to arrive. That would be where we cut the hike in half.

Amanda dropped me off where I stopped the evening before. I touched the post, and continued on a dirt road until reaching a canal then followed the dike north. It went straight, for miles on end, with nothing particularly interesting to note. It passed sugarcane fields mostly, and a few houses. The two things I am happy to report is that the weather was relatively cool and there was no longer fast-moving traffic to deal with.

About five hours later, I arrived at the road crossing, and Amanda was already there waiting for me. She had picked up a Cuban sandwich for lunch, so I dug into that and a cold Coke from the ice chest as she drove back to Clewiston.

The next morning, we largely repeated the process. She dropped me off at the road crossing, and I continued following canals around the sugarcane fields. This time there was marginally more interesting things to see since the trail curved several times and intersected CR 835 once again for about a mile before following canals again.

I arrived at John Stretch Park, tagging the telephone pole I touched to start my hike when DebBee dropped me off in what seemed like eons ago.

Being a Saturday, the park was considerably busier than the last time I visited it.

This time, Amanda picked up lunch from Taco Bell, and once again, we drove back to Clewiston.

This time, however, we did not stop in Clewiston. I had officially finished hiking the section I had skipped earlier, so it was time to head back to River Ranch and continue my hike north from there.

Amanda booked us in a hotel in Winter Haven using Priceline or Hotwire or something--a bit further out from River Ranch than we would have liked, but we were commited to it now. =)

So it was off to the HoJos in Winter Haven for us.

The next day would be Amanda's last full day, and we figured I'd use it to walk from where she picked me up in River Ranch to a parking area in the Three Lakes WMA, a short nine-or-so mile hike for the day. I would have liked to do more, but there were no easy points for her to pick me up beyond the enterance for the Three Lakes area.

We first drove to where she would pick me up so we both knew where to meet, and to give me a chance to scout the trail I'd be hiking.

The trail leaves River Ranch, then follows SR 60 for about six miles to the entrance for Three Lakes WMA.

When the road crossed over the Kissimmee River, we noticed what appeared to be a hiker crossing the bridge! He had a big pack, carrying two trekking poles, and we figured it HAD to be a thru-hiker! Nobody else in their right mind would voluntarily HIKE SR 60. It was a thankless walk on a busy road with high-speed traffic.

A weekend backpacker would have hiked before the road or after it, but certainly not ON the road. Only a thru-hiker has any reason to hike road walks.

We continued on to the destination, scouting it out and deciding on a pick up point, then cruised back towards River Ranch keeping our eyes open for the hiker. We wanted to talk to the hiker. =)

We found him, not far from where we first saw him, and Amanda pulled over onto a frontage road where he was hiking.

I rolled down my window and asked, "Are you a thru-hiker?"

He seemed surprised by the question--understandable since not many people pull over and ask that question. Most locals don't even know the Florida Trail runs through their backyard much less that there are crazy people who'd hike the entire length of it.

He was, indeed, a thru-hiker, named Skeemer, and I introduced myself. (Don't be fooled by the car, I told him, I'm really a thru-hiker in disguise.) I was the first thru-hiker he'd come across, and it turned out we shared another adventure together--we both thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2003. He started and finished the trail about a month before I did, however, and never did our paths cross. I probably read many of his registry entries, but since I was always behind him, he had never read any of mine.

We chatted a bit, and I offered him a cold soda from the ice chest which, surprisingly, he turned down. But we both had miles to do, so he continued his road walk and Amanda drove me back to River Ranch so I could begin my own.

The rest of the day's hiking was non-eventful. I hiked, and I hiked, walking far off the shoulder of the road so cars wouldn't hit me, and arrived at the end point about a half hour before expected.

Amanda had no arrived yet, so I sat down in the shade had ate a couple of granola bars to kill the time. She pulled up about five minutes after I arrived, and it was back to Winter Haven. My last night in a hotel.

For those wanting to meet me or take me home for a night for a shower and perhaps watch me develop a new feature for Atlas Quest, I expect that I'll end up in Oviedo tomorrow (Saturday) night. If anyone nearby wants to pick me up for the night, I'd be THRILLED! I'm in terrible need of a shower and laundry. =) Alas, I've lost my list of contacts, so I don't have anyone's phone numbers.

So if you want to pick me up, post a comment to my blog or send me AQ mail to let me know. (I can check those from pay phones.) Include your phone number, and I'll give you a jingle when I make it to town.

I was thinking about making myself available for exchanges on Sunday somewhere, assuming you all aren't too caught up with the Superbowl madness. Not sure where or when, but if you want to met up on Sunday for exchanges, post a message to let me know. =)

I'm off to continue my hike now. Hopefully I'll be posting again regular as I go through the Orlando area!

PS. I do have a personal traveler for anyone providing trail magic--just in case you needed another incentive. ;o)

10 comments:

Michael Merino said...

Skip this post? Why would anybody do that.

jjjaker said...

It must be nice to know when you stop to rest, good food magically appears. :) (Thanks to Amanda of course.)
A of JJJAKER

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Anonymous said...

Trail magic is ready & available at your beck & call. Just give me a ring at the number I'm sending you in an AQ mail. Just tell us what you need, :o)

3H

Anonymous said...

Your hiking quests make me wish I were young again. Never did, but thought about it, the AT. But I did, and three times, the Greenstone Ridge Trail, running along the backbone of Isle Royale National Park, the "Eye of the Wolf" in Lake Superior. If you haven't, consider it. Best time: Early June - fewer people, no bugs.

-MTCobra

Kaaren said...

We'd be happy to come get you! You have my cell # and I will repost on AQ.


Kaaren
DavidandKaaren

Anonymous said...

Ryan,
Bed, shower, laundry facilities are yours for the asking.
We are located in Orlando and ThreeHearts and I will be in Oviedo on Saturday anyway!
Check your email for our contact information.
peace, oh wanderer dear!
lorax

Kerstin said...

I dunno, but I sure wish you'd hurry up and get to GA!! LOL Don't you sneaky, sneaky boo up on us either-make a big announcement when you get up here!!!!! Stay safe and keep posting! I wake up to check AQ and go to bed after checking it again! This is great!

Anonymous said...

I just read Amanda's blog entry on how to support a thru-hicker and all I have to say is...Aint you gotta one!
Spiralseekers

Kollaps said...

I would like to help you out with laundry and a shower but I'm stuck up here in Maine.

Thank you for posts. I look forward to reading them and I feel I'm on the trail with you.

Good luck with the remaining miles.

Kollaps
(farmerbob48)
http://community.webshots.com/user/farmerbob48