Friday, February 8, 2008

The City Life

The next morning, ThreeHearts dropped me back off in Oviedo and I continued my hiking. It would be a short day, twelve miles by my calculations, where I would end at a small restaurant alongside the trail for lunch and an impromptu gathering was forming.

The hike generally went well. It followed a bike path most of the way, which was nice since that meant no mud, no water, no cars, and no cobwebs to break through. A little busy with people, perhaps, but that was nearly a welcome change since usually I'm by myself on the trail.

I chatted with several people along the way, including the couple of rollerbladers I mentioned in my last post whose friend I bumped into the day before.

I also met a couple of women riding bicycles, Laurie and Andie, who seemed pretty curious about my walk. I sent them to this blog, so perhaps they'll post a comment and say hi. ;o) (They already e-mailed me directly, but I haven't had a chance to reply. Sorry about that!)

About two and a half hours into the hike, I checked my progress. About six miles, about what I expected. Which gave me about two hours and six miles until I was expected for lunch.

Or so I thought. Looking closer at my data book, I suddenly realized that I actually had seven miles to reach Lake Mary--my destination--and I'd really have to haul to make it there by 2:00. My leisurely day just turned into a race!

The bike trail ended, then the trail wound its way through a seedy-looking section of town before heading into the woods where fallen trees and lack of maintenance slowed me down. Definitely going to be late, I thought.

The trail eventually found its way onto another bike path, and my progress improved. I sped through Longwood, finally arriving in Lake Mary.

The trail dumped me off at the intersection of Lake Mary Blvd and Rinehart Rd, a huge intersection, and I started looking around for the Peach Valley Cafe. Remarkably, I made it to the intersection at 2:00 sharp.

I didn't see the restaurant at first, so I walked up a high pedestrian overpass hoping the added height would help me spot the location, but alas, I still couldn't see it anywhere.

I came down from my perch, and asked an elderly lady if she knew where the Peach Valley Cafe was, and she pointed down Lake Mary Blvd, "Oh, it's a mile or two that way."

Huh? That can't be right. ThreeHearts told me it was right on the trail. "It's supposed to be near a Paneras," I added helpfully.

"Yep, a mile or two that way," she insisted.

Okay, something wasn't right. I walked over to a pay phone at 7-11 and called ThreeHearts. "And WHERE are you?" =)

Turns out, indeed, a couple of miles away. She insisted there were orange blazes nearby, and we concluded that they must have rerouted the trail fairly recently to this new location where I was currently standing.

When they reroute a trail, they'll usually only paint over the first few orange blazes of the old route, figuring once your on the new route, you'll no longer see the uncovered old blazes on the old route. Which is how things usually work, but in this case, ThreeHearts wasn't *following* the trail--she went directly to the middle of the old section, saw the blazes, and naturally assumed the trail still went by.

"Well," I told her, "someone better came by and pick me up if they want to meet me, because I'm not walking two miles off trail to get to this restaurant!" =)

Kaaren, of David and Kaaren fame, volunteered to pick me up, and I waited for her to arrive a few minutes later, whisking me away back to the Peace Valley Cafe.

It was a good gathering, with good food, with a half dozen or so letterboxers driving out to be merry and swap war stories. =)

Kaaren took me to her home for the night, where I got a second night with a soft bed. Speaking of which, her house is wonderfully large and would make a GREAT location for a letterboxing stamping party. *hint hint*

Kaaren had to work the next morning, but her husband David was able to give me a ride back to the trail in Lake Mary. (The correct intersection, to boot!)

It's hard to leave civilization behind sometimes. I slept in late, taking my time packing up. I needed to resupply, so David dropped me off next to a Publix supermarket at the intersection. I repacked all the food I bought into ZipLocks, mailed some postcards, and by the time I was ready to hit the trail, it was lunch.

So I stopped in at Taco Bell, checked my e-mail at a pay phone, and FINALLY got on the trail sometime after noon.

I'm just pathetic. =)

The trail crossed I-4 on a $3.6 million pedestrian suspension bridge. It's a nice, scenic bridge--I'd hope so for $3.6 million--and was probably the reason for the trail reroute through Lake Mary.

I took 381 steps to cross the structure, which I calculated in my head to mean that each of my steps is worth nearly $10,000. Wow.

I hiked another mile or two, until I reached the town of Heathrow where I dwaddled some more. Bought a cold soda (ugh, it was hot!), made some phone calls, and ate some snacks.

Civilization was slowly my hike to a crawl. Fear not, however, because the trail soon entered Lower Wekiva Preserve State Park and then the Seminole State Forest, where only things like trees and squirrels could distract me.

At the Seminole State Forest, I was required to pay the $1 entrance fee--which seemed wrong to do to someone who hiked in all the way to Key West. It was the first entrance fee I had to pay. Even on the whole AT I never had to pay an entrance fee.

It was an honor system payment, but I'm an honorable guy (usually), so I paid the dollar.

I stopped hiking near sunset at Boy Scout shelter--my first honest-to-goodness shelter of the Florida Trail. I missed the shelters from the AT, so it was nice to finally see one again. It had no register (boo!), but I happily set up camp in it for the night. I meant to hike five miles further, but the city life sucked me in, and I only escaped far enough to this shelter.


rwhitey said...

Ryan its Ryan, from SLO town (no, you aren't talking to yourself)! I've been telling everyone I know that I met another Ryan from SLO all the way on the other side of the country. It will be great to start lightening up my pack with a soda can stove! I admire you journey so much ... I'm setting serious goals for year 2 (which might procede a work period) on the AT.

Happy trails!

Anonymous said...

Just a note to let you know that this blog entry is out of order. Ryan tried to post an entry yesterday, but it did not take. He is currently going to post it again and it will come next.

-Amanda from Seattle

Kaaren said...

Hee hee. I was wondering if you were going to mention that "having a party in my house thing." LOL

If you and Amanda are ever down this way and need a place no where near Orlando to stay, the room's all yours.

Anonymous said...

As I read this I can't help but think there are a lot of differences from this hike to the AT one. I can't imagine the AT having Taco Bells all over the place!!

Anonymous said...

oh, and yet another post. two in one day. i am going to be spoiled. don't you think you could spread these out so we don't need to wait so long between some of the posts????????

i can't believe all of the civilization you have had on this hike. nothing like the AT.

how are the feet doing any more counties pop up lately?


Wes said...

Here's a pic of the pedestrian bridge.

Unknown said...


You walked right past my office in Lake Mary. I've been following the progress since I read about your trip in the trail books at Big Cypress. My friend and I hiked that section between Tamiami Trail and I-75 a few days behind you. I'm looking forward to hearing about the Ocala National Forest sections since were planning another short (relatively speaking)thru hike there in the coming months.

Keep up the good work.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Hmmm...Is it Peach Valley or Peace Valley?

I guess it all depends upon what you're looking for: food or rest?


Hike on!
~Twinville Trekkers