Saturday, February 2, 2008

Roughin' It

I can't say I got a lot of sleep that last night in our hotel. Our neighbors kept making lots of noise, long past midnight, including a visit by the police at some point. Then Amanda woke us up at an ungodly hour to drop me off on the trail at 6:00am so she'd have time to drive to the airport for a flight in Orlando.

Which is where you found me at 6:00 on that cold, cold morning. It was too dark to be hiking, and I was still tired, so I through out my ground sheet and sleeping bag and promptly went back to sleep. Yawn!

I slept in late, a result of that lack of sleep, and wasn't hiking again until 9:30.

I wasn't hiking for more than a half hour before I lost the trail. The blazes seemed to indicate a sharp turn to the left, so that was the direction I hiked. I didn't see much in terms of blazes, but stupidly wrote it off to a fire that had recently gone by.

By the time I realized I was no longer on the trail, I'd gone too far to want to backtrack.

I ended up on Road 10, which, according to my map, would eventually intersect the trail up ahead. So I started following the gravel road north.

Eventually, it intersected with Road 9, which excited me greatly since I knew the trail was supposed to cross Road 9 to the east, so I followed Road 9 hoping to find where the Florida Trail crossed it.

Perhaps I didn't search far enough, but I only found one small trail crossing Road 9, and with no blazes to show for it. Was it the right one?

I went ahead and followed it a bit, but grew tired of that when no blazes continued to show themselves and the trail started crossing ditches with lots of water. (On a happy note, my data book did say I'd cross ditches with water, so it might mean I was on the right path--but I still couldn't find any blazes.)

Frustrated and tired, I followed a dike back to Road 10 and continued north, finally intersecting the Florida Trail after a couple of hours. UGH!

At least I was back on the trail again.

Another 30 or so minutes later, I lost the trail again. I could still see the last blaze--I just couldn't find the next one. In frustration, I yelled something obscene about the FTA and threw my trekking pole across an open field, which made me feel marginally better.

I retrieved the trekking pole, and almost decided to backtrack to the road and pick up the trail again further down, but the hidden blaze showed itself at the last moment and I followed them deeper into the woods.

At this point, the trail followed scenic areas and following the trail became easier, so my mood lightened.

I pushed on about a mile beyond CR 523, where the trail splits into two different directions around Orlando. The east side, they say, is more complete, slightly shorter, and has less road walks, which was pretty convincing to me, so I followed the trail east, camping as soon as I got out of earshot of all but the loudest vehicles on CR 523.

The next morning, I followed the trail under the Florida Turnpike, and that's where I lost the trail again. My map and data book described the trail as following Williams Rd, a gravel path, but a blaze I did find almost immediately took me off of Williams Rd.

Beyond that blaze, I could find nothing. Disturbingly, however, a trailer filled with freshly cut trees rested on the side of the road, and I hoped those trees didn't have any blazes on them.

Unable to follow the blazes, I decided to follow Williams Rd and the directions provided on my map and data book.

For miles, I never saw anymore blazes, and I assume the trail must have been rerouted. Unable to follow the blazes, however, I was left following old directions on dirt roads.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, I spotted the trail crossing Williams Rd, pretty much confirming my reroute theory, but I was puzzled why the reroutes weren't mentioned in my data. I had the latest editions, printed mere months ago. Other reroutes in the works were mentioned.

In any case, I was once on the trail again, making my way to Springer Mountain.

The rest of the day's hike was largely scenic and nice, minus a short road walk on US 441. I finally stopped to camp at Little Scrub Campsite in the Bull Creek area.

It was a wonderful little site, with a well for pumping water and picnic tables to use.

While watching the sunset (and a beautiful one it was!), I heard shotgun blasts not too terribly far off. Hunters. BAM! BAM! Until after dark, I might add.

Fortunately, the pictures still turned out nice. =)

I'm in Chuluota now, working my way north. Seems almost all the clues I have for letterboxes are on this next stretch of trail, so it looks like I'll be hunting down some boxes. I'm still aiming to get to Oviedo by tonight, though, so I might have to skip a few. Anyhow, that's where I am right NOW for anyone who wants to go out and find a Totuga. =)

Hopefully I'll reach Oviedo by sunset!


Kaaren said...

Oviedo has changed A LOT. I used to live thee and there was nothing. the trail here is nicely kept, but mostly it's a paved path.

Anonymous said...

so glad you found your trail again. i would have been worried i was so lost. and my luck i never would have found the right spot.........and who knows where i would end up.


Anonymous said...

This sounds suspiciously like you not being a real Florida Trail thuru hiker anymore. :)

Anonymous said...

hey, he is trying to be a Thru hiker, he can't help it they remove the blazes..
and yup, from what I've heard about Ryan,
(and read here about trying to do the reserve) he's about as determined to be a trhu hiker as anyone ever would!


Anonymous said...

Ryan, I and some other trail volunteers in CT have been following you since the Big Cyprus swamp & burning trail(we never knew we could just put a trail through a swamp without having the hassle of building a boardwalk, and the flaming tree really adds character).

When blazes go missing its usually one of two things: The tree fell over or the blaze was on a type of bark that doesn't hold blazes well. Smooth-barked trees, often small ones, can lose their blazes in one year, even with the very best paint.

I'm sure none of that helps to find the trail, though!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow. I'm impressed. I'd have lost the trail like that, I would have been walking in circles for a week and then called for help.

You did good finding your way back to the trail again.

Hike on!
~Twinville Trekkers