Saturday, January 5, 2008

And Rain, It Did...

Of course, it did rain that night, and how clever I thought I was to have the tarp already out and near my head to set up in a moment's notice. I pulled it out, throwing it over myself, making sure it covered me from head to toe, then laid down and tried to sleep again.

Sleep did not come easy, however. Since the tarp was only thrown over me rather than properly set up, I could feel every drop of water striking me, poking me. At least I was dry, though. Breathing under the tarp wasn't easy, either, becoming suffocating, so I propped my arm up in a way to allow some ventilation.

My feet then started to feel a bit wet, so I checked that the tarp covered them, which it did, and wrote it off to being my imagination. It wasn't a pleasant experience.

A bit later, I felt a pool of water collecting on my ground sheet just above my head, so I pulled up the tarp to allow the water to drain off. I wondered how many other pools of water were forming on my groundsheet, but feared if I moved around to check, I'd just make things worse.

It did occur to me that there were probably people a mere hundred feet away, sleeping peacefully and dry in those homes. They'd never know about the problems I faced.

The rain finally stopped, but the tree snot continued to fall with each gust of wind through the trees through morning. At first light, I threw off the tarp and took inventory of the damage.

A large pool of water formed at my feet, quickly explaining why they felt so darned wet all night. While my feet were fully covered by the tarp, the groundsheet was not and the water pooled down at my feet under the tarp and my pack.

My fleece jacket got pretty wet as well, along with the hood of my sleeping bag when I pulled the tarp below my head for better ventilation. I would have to dry the sleeping bag at some point. It had no insulation at all when it was wet, and both the hood and the feet were soaked. Several bags and the groundsheet and tarp were wet, but that was surviveable. I needed to dry out my sleeping bag, however.

Ironically, my umbrella finished the night completely dry. I carry TWO freakin' umbrellas for 70 miles, and neither of them did me the least bit of good.

I did not stop to eat breakfast--tree snot was still falling, and I figured I'd wait until I found a good place to dry out and eat breakfast there.

I stopped a mile or two up the trail, at a rock beach with a plaque about Indian Key, an 11-acre island just east of here, accessible only by boats. Pirates used the island as a hideout many moons ago, and at one point it was the seat of government for Dade County. Which seems odd to me since I thought I was in Monroe County.

I laid out my tarp and groundsheet to dry, but also as a place to lay out the rest of my wet gear.

After about ten minutes, it started to sprinkle again. It wasn't a hard rain, and I could see blue skies ahead, so decided to wait it out, folding the tarp and groundsheet in half, covering the rest of my possessions from the rain like a giant taco.

When the sprinkle stopped, I opened the tacos again and finished up breakfast. The sun came out, and my gear dried out pretty quickly at that point.

A couple of days ago, I littered. It wasn't on purpose, of course, but I just finished eating a granola bar, and in a strong gust of wind, the wrapper escaped my clutches and flew far into the air, far beyond any hope of catching as it blew out to sea.

Things like this bother me, but it wasn't intential, nor is there anything I could have done to retrieve the trash.

But I've now paid what I feel is sufficient pennace. =) While waiting for my gear to dry, I walked around the beach, picking up trash--LOTS of trash--which I put into a receptacle conveniently provided for such items. It's sad that so much trash would litter the area, and on these keys one can only imagine that most of it ends up in the water at some point. My wrapper might still be out there, but I figure I picked up a good 10 pounds of trash that no longer will pollute the beaches or oceans, including that 40 pound bag of what used to contain potting soil. (Why do I suspect that bag washed onto shore rather than was left behind by someone?)

My karma is in allignment now. =)

Once everything dried, I packed up and hoofed it into Islamorada. Wow, the distractions I faced. I passed by a nudie bar which had a large sign on the door warning not to enter if you think completely naked girls.... I forget the exact word it used. Offensive, perhaps?

I'd only hiked five miles so far, though. I needed more miles before I stopped for lunch! (They did serve food here.)

Snorkling and dive shops were everywhere, another adventure passed up to get more miles in.

I did finally stop at the library, where I made use of the Internet connection and read a couple of magazines (PC Magazine and BusinessWeek if you must know).

By the time I finished, it was already 2:00 in the afternoon. Ack! Disgraceful--five miles and it was already 2:00. AND I didn't even stop for a nudie bar or snorkling!

I stopped at Burger King for a quick lunch--very quick--then hit the trail again by 2:30.

Nearly the entire walk after this point is non-stop businesses and homes. So many distractions, but I bravely walked past them all. My guidebook mentioned a Dairy Queen ten miles ahead, and I set that as my destination. If I could make it there, I'd treat myself to a strawberry shake.

Two miles before reaching it, I almost caved. My feet hurt, badly, and I stopped by a Winn-Dixie and used their phone to check for e-mail. A McDonalds stood across the parking lot. They could make a strawberry shake for me, I thought.

My inner strength shone through, however. After the short rest at the pay phone, I found the energy to get up again and push on to Dairy Queen.

I walked passed a policeman who'd pulled over a car. I walked past gift shops and stores. I walked and I walked, and I finally made it to Dairy Queen.

That's where I'm at now, typing this message. A nice family from Davie and an older gentleman quizzed me about my hike, seemingly stunned that I planned to hike so far. The dad--I didn't catch their names--pulled up my blog on his cell phone. =) He gave me the URL of his blog, -- but I don't have a nifty cell phone to check it out. Perhaps later. I told them to check the blog tomorrow--they might be in it. Let's see if they make a comment. ;o)

I've only done 15 miles today, but my feet still feel sore. I'd like to get another five or so miles in before stopping for the night, but we'll see. It's definitely a lot more developed around this part of the keys, so stealth camping is becoming more challenging.


Anonymous said...

Tree Snot... hehehehe


Anonymous said...

No time for any boxing along Hwy 1?

If you are going to find time to snorkle, I suggest Kelly's on the Bay in Key Largo. Quick, Close to the Road, Great Folks, and nice dive sites in Pennekamp National Park.

Hope your feet are doing better.

DC Stones

PS - They did blow up 7-mile bridge for Arnold and Jamie Lee Curtis in the movie "True Lies".

Anonymous said...

Keep going strong Ryan!!!


Debbie St.Amand said...

Keep your eyes open. You never know WHO might be driving down US1, looking for you today!


Holly said...

We are following along with you Ryan. Be careful and stay dry ! AND we were only COLD yesterday at the Mt Mystery event ! Well the kids were wet and muddy but that was self inflicted!


Unknown said...

So Ryan made it through Islamorada because the DQ is in Tavernier. Today he should be going through Pennecamp. Then after Key Largo a left turn up to the mainland.

Lisa said...

tree snot?

you sound like such a nature lover.

midlandtrailblazer said...

confession is good for the soul! :) and there is no substitute for Dairy Queen -- good for you that you passed up those temptations and held out for the real reward.

Anonymous said...

"A couple of days ago, I littered."

For some reason this seams to be very telling of your personality, and it made me laugh. thanks for the great read.
Blackberry Patch

Eye Wanitt said...

How's the hair stubble coming in? Does your head itch? Usually 4 or 5 days after shaving my legs they itch like crazy. Did you bring any razors with you?

I love your posts! Keep them coming. Be safe and keep your eyes on your end goal. One step at a time.....