Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dike Walking, Day 3

At about 4:00 in the morning, it started to rain. I moved my stuff under the covered picnic table, then proceeded to go back to sleep on top of the table. Not as comfortable as nice, soft grass, but definitely better than exposing myself to the rain or setting up my tarp in the darkness.

At sunrise, my campsite companion got up and we resumed our conversation from the night before.

"You scared the crap out of me last night!" he exclaimed. =)

The weather, still raining, of course was a topic of conversation, and I told him of my theory regarding Florida weather.

In Moore Haven, I stopped at the library and checked the weather forecast, which showed a 40% chance of rain for the day, then it bounced around between 10% and 30% for the rest of the week.

"In most places, a 40% chance of rain means a 40% chance of rain," I explained, rather logically, I thought. "In Florida, however, it means a 100% chance of rain that will last for 40% of the day."

"It doesn't rain in January," he replied, then thought better of the statement listening to the rain on the aluminum roof of the picnic area, "Well, almost never. Lord knows they need it this year!"

Then he went off about having never seen Lake Okeechobee so low, ever. "You can't even see it on this side f the lake!" So I noticed. "Business is bad."

During the night, I had spent some time thinking about a new trail name for Happy Feet, and I suggested my first idea: Professor. He was a teacher in a past life, and currently works to develop school curriculums in Florida.

"No," he replied, "that makes me sound like I have more degrees than I do. I don't really teach anymore."

"That's the beauty of trail names," I told him, "nobody but you ever has to know! It's like you can be anything you want!"

He shook his head. Nope.

"Okay," I continued, "How about O? Since you're thru-hiking the Big-O, your trail name can be O. When someone later asks how you got your name, you can tell them about your adventures hiking the Big-O."

He thought about it for a moment, and finally said, "Yes, I like that."

"The next issue to settle," I continued, "is how do you want to spell it? Just O, or maybe O-H?"

He thought a moment more, then said, "I like the O-H spelling better."

So it was settled--the hiker formerly known as Happy Feet (or Dan for those who knew him before that) is now known as Oh. It didn't seem likely that I'd get to help assign a trail name to this remote trail, but by golly, I got to name the first (and so far only) hiker whose path I crossed!

I departed northward--Oh was heading south--into the rain and wind.

The rain stopped within a mile or two, much to my delight, and I stopped at a gas station where the trail crosses a bridge on SR 78. The wind was so strong, I noticed, that it was blowing drops of water UP out of the water drains on the bridge--a strangely surreal thing to watch.

I stopped at the mini market there and bought a bottle of orange juice for breakfast, then (gasp!) applied some moleskin to the back of my right foot where it was rubbing against the top of my new shoe. It wasn't rubbing badly, but it was getting sore and that's where moleskin works it's magic best.

All patched up and ready to go, I continued walking.

This time, there would be no large towns to stop for lunch. For about 20 miles, I was on my own.

I stopped at a designated campsite about 10 miles up the trail for lunch. Originally, I planned to cook an elaborate meal, but due to high winds decided that cooking was out of the question. I didn't have a wind break for my stove, and it's hard to cook in a strong wind.

Instead, I decided, I would eat the one-pound summer saussage at the bottom of my pack. I'd been carrying that stupid thing since Key West, thinking it would make a nice snack through a day, but I didn't have a knife big enough to slice it up, so I kept putting it off. The thing weighed a POUND! That's a lot of excess weight for a hiker, and it had to go.

I pulled out the summer saussage, took off the plastic covering, unwrapped the 'skin' from around it, then just started eating it, ripping bites directly off of it. I felt like an animal, primitive but effective.

About halfway done, I realized it wasn't going to be easy to eat the whole darned thing. Eating an entire one-pound summer saussage seemed like something you would do on a dare or a lost bet.

The last few bites I choked down, but I finished it, and laid back on the bench of the picnic table to let it digest, and mentally calculating how many calories it had. 170 calories per serving, 8 servings per package, so I just finished of 1360 calories.

Quite a few for a simple lunch, but I'd have rathr put down nearly 2,000 calories from a pint of Ben and Jerrys. (Forgetting, for a moment, that there was no frozen ice cream within a ten mile walk of my location.)

But hey! My pack was now a whole POUND lighter! That's awesome. My pack seemed lighter just thinking about it. I carried that stupid sausage about 200 miles. I figure carrying 1 pound 200 miles is equivent to carying 200 pounds for 1 mile. Ugh! Thank God that sausage is gone.

After a suitable period of digestion (about an hour or so), I continued on with the hike.

Near sunset, I sat down to rest a bit and was astounded to discover a beautiful setting sun behind me. It was still cloudy and overcast, but the sun managed to peek through a couple of clouds on the horizon, reflecting off a canal, and it was absolutely gorgeous. Had I not stopped to rest my feet just then, I would have completely missed it!

I passed a lock structure after sunset, which my guidebook said had potable water--a nice surprise since I was running low and thought I might have to dip into the canal water for the night. (Thanks for the tip, Sandra, and yes, you may link to this blog!)

I filled up my water, then hiked into the Buckhead Ridge designted campsite for the night where I found two tents already set up. Amazing! Two nights IN A ROW with other hikers!

It was Mountain Laurel and Mosey, former AT thru-hikers who were now thru-hiking the Florida Trail (and not going all the way to Maine, as Oh had told me.)

They didn't come out of their tents that night, so I wouldn't formally meet them until morning. In the meantime, I set up camp under the covered picnic table once again--the clouds looked bad enough that I didn't trust sleeping out in the open this night.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you could stay dy on top of the picnic table(I initially missed that it was a covered table ;) Okay, the pack is lighter after eating the sausage. Question is?
Are you?
So, what name did you give OH..
Green Tortuga? Ryan? or The Great Green One?
Keep on, keeping on. It is very sunny here in Vancouver, but brrrr, chilly,
frost and ice on most everything two days in a row.
Hope you have many days of glorious perfect hiking weather and awesome sites!

Anonymous said...

dry, not dy

Anonymous said...

Glad you got to name a hiker:)

As far as the sausage goes, 1360 calories isn't all that bad I guess;), considering all the exercise you are getting. I wonder how many calories you burn hiking a day?

Glad you got to meet more people on the trail:) I've never hiked anything like that before, so I don't know if that's common or rare, but I would think it would be rare.

Take care Ryan:)


Anonymous said...

So glad to hear you got a good nights rest, and a dry one. So fun reading your posts. Even about your feet, I might add. :~) Fun for us, not so for you.
Question: What would be an elaborate meal on a hike? Reconstitooted what? Grin.
Take care,
Okie dog