I resorted to Plan B, which meant hiking back four miles on the Florida Trail, then following a one-mile blue-blazed trail to the Plum Orchard Visitor Center.
I borrowed a cell phone from one of the employees there manning the front desk and called a fellow turtle who now resides in Tallahassee.
"Hey, there," I said, "Have room for a wet, miserable hiker?" =)
Originally, it was my intention to call her for a ride into Tallahassee and a night off the trail from St. Marks--thus my preoccupation with reaching St. Marks. There's not much to see or do in the town of St. Marks, but for me, it was the gateway into Tallahassee and comfort. =)
I gave my updated location, and she said she'd be there in about an hour.
I took off my shoes one last time--they'd carried me from the I-75 rest area on Alligator Alley to the east side of the St. Marks River (about 700 miles), and their end had finally come. Say what you will of Payless Shoes, but they did a wonderful job. =)
Turtle would have a maildrop from my mom which included a new pair of shoes which I also purchased at Payless before I left SLO. Wassamatta_u had joked that I should have sold the first ruined pair on eBay. At least I think it was a joke, but I decided to mail these now old shoes to him to do whatever he wanted to with him. A letterbox gathering, perhaps, where the teeming millions can admire the well-used shoes, and the shoes being giving away in a raffle? I don't know what he'll do with them, but I sure wish I could be a fly on the wall when he opens THAT package. =)
To kill the time, I looked through the gift shop and museum, then read through much of a magazine about running a business for birders. It astounds me that there are enough people who own stores selling birding supplies that they have a whole magazine dedicated to them, and there's no magazine for letterboxers?
It was a fascinating magazine, though. Learned quite a bit of interesting things about birding. Not sure when it'll ever be userful, but it was interesting. =)
Turtle arrived and whisked me away to Tallahassee.
Oh, it was wonderful. I got to shower, work on Atlas Quest, and even watched the Simpsons movie which was pretty darned funny. The temperature would drop below freezing the next couple of nights, so it was nice to spend it in a nice, warm bed.
I ran a few errands, such as replacing my digital camera which appears will never be back to normal after the dunking it took from the canoe ride. I also had developed the roll of film from the disposible camera I had been carrying while hoping the digital camera would suddenly start working properly again.
I ended up taking a zero day in Tallahassee, which isn't to say the trail wasn't trying to catch up to me during that time! That evening, I got an e-mail from my mom, worried about me since some folks from St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge were trying desparately to find me. They wanted to do prescribed burns, but didn't know exactly where I was and they didn't want to burn me up. =)
The only reason they knew I was (or had been) there was because of the permit I mailed in, so I guess they were trying to make sure all hikers were safe.
I'd listed my mom's phone number as an emergency contact, but had no cell phone for them to contact me directly, so they called my mom several times during the day trying to find me, and even were out looking for me on the trail driving around in ATVs.
All the while I'm completely oblivious of the search, and well out of the way tucked away in Tallahassee. =)
I called the woman back who had kept calling my mom all day, who seemed relieved to finally know exactly where I was and my future plans. They were planning to burn the area around Port Leon, the area I'd hiked the day before, but I planned to continue my hike from the west side of the St. Marks River (after all, I'd already hiked everything east of it--no sense doing that again). So I'd be well out of the burn zone the next day. Much ado about nothing.
On my way out of Tallahassee, I got to see the state capitol building. Normally, I wouldn't mention something as mundane as a building, but for those of you not familiar with the Florida state capitol, there are two things I'd like to tell you. One, it is, hands down, the single ugliest state capitol I have ever seen in my life. I've seen jails with more class. And second, at least from the particular angle I approached the capitol from, it looks amazingly like an erect penis with testicals. I am not making this up. Floridians everywhere should hang their heads in shame. Everyone else should laugh at them.
Two days after she picked me up, my fellow turtle dropped me back off on the trail at St. Marks. I never did cross the St. Marks river by boat, which would have been fun, but I figured if hailing a boat was acceptable to cross the river, nobody could complain much that I chose to hail a car instead. =)
From St. Marks, large plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the forests on the other side of the river. The prescribed burns were well on their way, and safely on the other side of the river.
There's not much to report about this particular day of hiking. The trail followed a bike path north from St. Marks, a nice easy walk. I stopped at a convenience store near where it intersected US 98 for lunch, then continued along the trail--which did require walking through pools of water, bleh--until stopping for the night at Wakulla Field Campsite.