Saturday, January 5, 2008

Day 4: Is It Over Yet?

I woke the next morning particularly well rested. Without the wind, I was quite toasty all night, tucked in my sleeping bag, with a wonderful view of the stars (and a couple of planets!) twinkling overhead. Since I was hidden away behind a thick row of trees, I didn't worry about cops driving by and heckling me. I took my time packing up camp, and even made a quick breakfast of cereal, cleaning up the bowl, and brushing my teeth before heading out. Previously, I munched on snacks while walking down the road instead of having a proper breakfast in the morning.

The trail continued a couple of miles alongside (but separate!) from Highway 1, passing a couple of scenic lakes and views along the way. At the pullout just before the Long Key Viaduct, I noticed about a dozen shopping carts sitting around, apparently abandoned.

It's not the first time I've seen shopping carts where they aren't supposed to be, but this seemed particularly odd since they all seemed to be in pretty good shape and it seemed like an odd place for a homeless person to abandon so many shopping carts.

With that mystery, I continued across a fishing bridge--the old highway--to avoid the traffic on Highway 1, and about half a mile through on this two mile bridge, I figured out the mystery of the shopping carts. Fishermen.

I passed a man fishing with his daughter, and all of their gear was in a shopping cart. Being such a long fishing bridge, nobody wants to carry out their fishing gear--they push it around in shopping carts instead!

I wonder if Winn-Dixie and K-Mart know about this use of their carts, however.

I passed several two other families off fishing for the afternoon, each of them with their own shopping carts to lug around gear. Damn! Why didn't I think to take a cart for myself to push my backpack for two miles? Stupid, stupid, stupid....

The last family I passed informed me that they saw a red shark not to long ago, and we all peered over the edge to look for it, but we found nothing.

The wind, I'm pleased to announce, has died down considerably this morning. It's still there, but probably has sustained speeds of 15 or 20 mph--much less than the 40+ mph since leaving Key West. The water wasn't nearly so choppy anymore, and visibility in the water increased accordingly. It's still not very good, but it's improving. Without the strong wind, I've stopped wearing my fleece jacket and gone to a simple long-sleeved shirt.

At the edge of Layton, I found two letterboxes. For a short period, I thought I had passed the trailhead and backtracked a tenth of a mile before going forward again. (Note, the clues say the trailhead is at MM 67.7, but it's really a short ways past MM 68. That's what threw me off. ;o)

I found the boxes, though, and the one was pretty darned clever! I don't want to spoil it for anyone else, but it's the most *adorable* logbook I've ever found! =)

Afterwards, I headed into the bustling town of Layton. My map showed a post office in town, so I had high hopes. Alas, that was pretty much the whole town. It had a fire department, and a city hall, and if there was a payphone, I never found it. No library, either.

Dejected, I walked on, stopping at a KOA where my guidebook said there was a restaurant. I figured it probably had a pay phone as well.

I found the phone in the laundry room, then ordered an 8" pizza with pepperoni and olives. Oh, it was good....

I sat at the bar--actually, I'm typing this AT the bar--rubbing the bottom of my poor, abused feet on the 'step' near the base of the stool. Oh, man, it feels good... =)

The couple tending bar think I'm crazy for walking to Georgia, and said that I could probably take a shower here if I wanted to. I might check it out, but probably not today. In a few more days, I'll be in Florida City and splurg for a hotel.

Actually, if the weather warms up more, I might even go for a swim.

*rubbing feet some more*

Dang, that feels good....

Is it over? Not even close.... This is Ryan, reporting in from MM 70. (That's about 4% of the trail, for those of you keeping track.)

**** time lapse ****

While eating my pizza, it started to rain. Hard. It wasn't looking good for me, and the folks in the bar were thoughtful enough to turn on the television and change the station to the Weather Channel. Slight chance of showers overnight, then cloudy for the weekend.

The rain stopped, and I continued on my way. The woman behind the bar, Pat I think her name was, said she felt bad about me going out, what where would I spend the night?

"I'll find somewhere--I always do," I assured her.

I started repacking my backpack, and found TWO umbrellas? Why the heck was I carrying TWO umbrellas? The second one was black and blended into the bottom of my pack, hidden from view.

I left the umbrella behind, telling Pat I'm donating it to the next poor smuck who walks in from the rain without an umbrella. =)

After leaving the KOA, the sky spit out a few drops of water at me, enough to make me pull out my umbrella, but not enough to make me open it. I waved the umbrella into the air, shouting into the sky, "Don't make me use this, or else!"

I crossed a fishing bridge, which had a surprising number of people on it given how dark it was. The first guy I came across had what looked like a big net made out of PVC pipes, and I asked him what it was for. "Shrimp," he answered.

I came across a tent set up in the middle of the bridge, and stopped long enough to peek in and ask if they were spending the night here. They were trying to catch a shark! They told me a bit about catching sharks, and I told them about thru-hiking before we shook hands and I left.

Eventually the bridges ended, and I walked several miles through civilized country, beginning to wonder if I would find a place to stop for the night. This was one of the longest stretches I'd gone without finding a place to camp--just house after house after house. I contemplated knocking on doors and asking if I could camp in their yard, and even considered climbing into what appeared to be an abandoned crane. Perhaps under the next bridge I reached, where I'd also be protected from the slight chance of rain.

Finally, however, I found a small nitch behind some power transmition equipment next to some tennis courts, and found my camp for the night. Perhaps there was something better further up the trail, but this was the best location I found in the last three miles--I'll take it!

Setting up a tarp in the light can be challenging in its own right, and I didn't relish the idea of setting one up in the darkness, so I decided not to put it up. I kept it nearby, however, in case it started to rain.


Anonymous said...

The trials of the trail! I quite enjoy your updates, here's one for you. You certainly aren't missing anything back home, lots of rain and wind, some power outages in N. Seattle. Chance of snow for the next few days. And California HAS snow! Stay safe and have fun!

Anonymous said...

Have a great day! We too are enjoying these updates! Hope the rains stayed off you, and you are blessed with perfect temps and humidity (or lack of ;)
This is a great commentary and the kids and I are learning geography of Florida. There are some pretty cool photo images of the 7 mile bridges. (both old and new)
Take care. May your next camping spot be comfortable, safe and easily found.

Anonymous said...

If you can do this without attracting a shark, I highly recommend soaking your feet for a few minutes in the salty sea water. It might sting at first, but sea water has great healing properties and the salt with dry p those blisters.
By the way, thanks for the great stories and reminding us that as adults, it realy IS ok to talk to strangers. More than ok, it can be lots of fun!

Trailtracker said...

Okay....I about busted a gut reading and picturing this...

" Damn! Why didn't I think to take a cart for myself to push my backpack for two miles?"

Our fearless leader pushing a shopping cart with his gear along the highway and across bridge after bridge---squeeky wheels and all! eech--ecch, eech--eech

Your thoughts and observations are priceless!!

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying your updates.......will we really get to hear from you this often during the whole trip? I think you need to write a book.

midlandtrailblazer said...

sounds like fun ;) hubby has told me about his primitive camping as a teenager, hinting at the two of us doing it, but i think not....

Anonymous said...

Leave it to TrailTracker to harrass the mighty green one...she is just jealous GT...Be Safe...BR1

Anonymous said...

hey y'all stop picking on trailtrakcer. We have to admit, we'd all like to do at least a portion of that trip.
Yup. a squeaky shopping cart along the 7 mile bridge, that would be a sight.
A word from Starfish Boy, "watch out for those waterspouts!" Oh and he said it would be real funny if a waterspout picked you up and carried you all the way home.:)
Take care Ryan.
Hope you've found a dry camping spot by now.
Pilgrims in This land

Anonymous said...

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has not renewed our contract with them for hikers to cross the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation. Effective January 1, hikers MAY NOT CROSS the reservation. We hope to have this mutually resolved as soon as possible. Check back for details prior to your hike or call 1-877-HIKE-FLA for an update

oops! Hope this doesn't affect you Ryan
Pilgrims in This Land.
Don't want the natives to show their hostile side...maybe you should have saved that umbrella.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the updates, Ryan.

If you see this in time, I noticed that there is a Tortuga Dr. ahead of you. Maybe around milepost 97 on Key Largo. The road looks like a divided highway there and Tortuga Dr. parallels US 1 to the west. Maybe a photo op if you've got a camera?

Take care and keep dry,
Knit Wit

Anonymous said...

You are inspiring two of my boys to do something like this, so maybe a book and the planning details included would be a nice present for them someday!
be safe and well,
six stars