Friday, March 7, 2008

The Neverending Swamp

The one incident in the swamp tromp that took me by surprise was when I ran out of water. Completely and totally out, without a drop to drink.

I'm still puzzled by this since I deliberately filled up with water to last the whole day, and it wasn't an especially warm day so I hadn't had much to drink, but near noon, I went to take a sip and nothing. I was out.

But I was in a swamp walking through water sometimes higher than my ankles, so it wasn't a critical problem. Just a perplexing one.

The swamp tromp officially ended at a dirt road. Still having plenty of daylight left, I took a small snack break then continued on.

I thought the water walking was largely over, but how wrong I was. Time after time I tromped through water, usually up to my ankles, with every dip in the road or trail. Once I realized how much water there was still left to walk through, I decided to push on as far as I could in the hopes of getting past it all. The water was annoying, but a minor one considering that my feet were already wet. The tricky part were the pools of water in the dirt roads, however, because I'd often find myself slipping into knee-deep water when I put my foot on the edge of a ledge but not realizing it. The dirt roads sometimes had deep grooves where the truck tires went through, and I'd put a foot near the grove in ankle-deep water to suddenly find my foot sliding down into knee-deep water. You can't see these these grooves either--the water is too murky--unless you probe for them with a trekking pole. Very annoying.

The trail crossed the Ochlocknee River over a bridge when I first realized that the Ochlocknee River seemed particularly high. I could see the top few inches of palmettos--not normally underwater plants--sticking out from the water.

Perhaps this, I thought, was the reason my swamp tromp didn't seem to end. The trail had flooded, though it did so conveniently after the end of the Bradwell Bay Wilderness.

I stopped at the Porter Lake Campground where I filled up with water and ate some snacks. One other family was camped there, with a stack of firewood about five feet high, and I considered walking over to them and asking if I could buy a cold soda off of them. I was hot and sweaty and a cold soda sounded good. Perhaps if I played my cards well, they'd even give me one for free. =) But I'd still have paid for one if necessary.

Before I had a chance to act out, however, the husband walked over to me and asked if he could buy a cigarette off of me. Heh.

"Sorry, I don't smoke." I'd have traded a whole pack for a cold drink if I could, though.

"I didn't think a hiker like you would," he replied, "but I figured it didn't hurt to ask."

I asked him about cold sodas, and he whispered, almost in a conspiratorial tone, "The wife didn't want to go anywhere today. I don't have smokes, I don't have ice, I don't have cold nothing."

He seemed especially bitter about the lack of smokes. I was disappointed about the lack of cold drinks.

We chatted for several more minutes, and I explained a bit about my hike to him before continuing on my way. I was half tempted to set up camp right there--it was a nice campground and the cost was right (free). At the very least, I could enjoy their campfire. =)

But I knew that a storm was blowing in and was determined to get as far up on the trail as I could. I wouldn't beat the storm into Bristol, but I hoped I'd have a nice, dry motel room after slogging all day through rain. I needed miles to pull that off, though.

So back on the trail it was. I didn't get far before I spotted three kids ahead of me carrying guns. Kids, as in pimply-faced teenagers. They looked like trouble to me, but there didn't seem like any other way around them except through them.

"So what are you hunting?" I asked them, wondering if it was even legal for them to be hunting.

"Just shootin' some squirrels." The kids smiled, and I was surprised to see some of their teeth already missing. Yikes!

Then one of them asked, "Do you know if hunting is allowed right now?"

I suspected not--hunting season for most areas had already passed--but I wasn't completely certain either so I said I didn't know.

I wished them good luck, and mosied on past. They seemed friendly, but their guns made me a bit nervous.

Another dip on a dirt road, and another wade through water. This particular dip was deeper than most, however, and I quickly found myself past my knees in water and probing with my trekking pole only showed even deeper water ahead.

It looked like a small creek normally crossed the road here, but it had badly flooded. I found a couple of logs on the right side of the trail, under about three feet of water, which seemed oddly out of place and surprisingly secure. I think it might have been the normal route over the creek for hikers, but the fact that it was three feet underwater suggested that my theory of the flooded creek had some merit.

I carefully stepped up onto the log and slowly inched myself across. I couldn't see the log--only feel it with my feet and trekking pole--and testing each side of it with my trekking pole, I figured I'd be well past my waist in water if I slipped off. This creek was deeper than the dreaded Monkey Creek!

Glad all my equipment was still safely tucked away in super-sized ZipLocks from the swamp tromp. If I slipped, I'd be taking quite a dunk!

Fortunately, I made it across the underwater logs without slipping, and managed to get through the creek barely keeping the cojones dry. =)

I set up camp at Indian Creek where it intersects CR 67. It was a bit closer to the road than I would have preferred, but it did the job. I hoped I'd gone far enough so I wouldn't have to walk through water again for a second day, but only time would tell....

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.


Kerstin said...

Gosh Ryan-what's wrong with kids with no teef? I mean, you are close to the GA/AL border you know! *grin* (with all my teef)

Kerstin said...

**P.S. when you hear a banjo playing-that's when you might run into trouble...........**

Anonymous said...

Hey them hunters wuz me and my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl!

Peas on Earth said...

Hey, now ... doncha be pickin' on them Alabamians ... I resemble that remark! :-)

Ryan, did you ever get water? I mean I know you were walking through it all day, but the description of "murky" doesn't sound too appetizing. Guess it all depends on how desperate you are ...