Tuesday, March 23, 2010

4 more days to go...

I am in Crestview now and having a last rest day. Only 3.5 more days and then I will be the first German to ever thruhike the Florida Trail. Isn't that a claim to fame? The last days have been pretty uneventful. Lots of roadwalks, lots of pine plantations and now Eglin Airforce Base, the last military installation I will cross - legally!!! I have all the necessary papers and the right dates and the permit. I have become a model hiker!

Gandalf on the FT
I have been meeting lots of other hikers recently - mostly day or section hikers, but also Popeye, another thruhiker who is doing a flipflop. The most interesting person was young guy I met in Eglin. He must be around 20, had a wooden stick as a trekking pole, carried his tent under his arm because it did not fit into his backpack anymore and had a can a bear spray attached to his belt. He did not look like an experienced long-distance hiker. He was from Canada ("I am carrying bear spray ALL the time - this is what we do in Canada.") and had tried to hike the AT ("But I have very bad equipment so I got too cold on the AT and decided to hike Florida where it is warmer"). He intended to hike the whole FT with the Florida Trail overview map as his ONLY map - no detailed maps, no data book, no companion guide, not even a road atlas - nothing. I gave him my last section map and wished him good luck - he needs it.

Basic camp site on the FT
Luck was also needed by a young couple I had met the day before. I had just gone to bed at a designated camp site in Eglin (meaning it was already pitch dark!) when I heard voices. Maybe some late camping companions? Or hunters? It turned out that it was a young couple out dayhiking, but they got "delayed" by the river crossings. It was already dark and 7.30 pm and they wanted (or better had to) hike another 3 miles - with just a torch (no headlamp) and a tiny dog that had to be carried because it was so exhausted. And then they managed to get lost in front of my eyes. Instead of following the orange blazes out they followed the blue blazes that just lead to the water source for that camp site. They appeared again after half an hour of bushwacking asking me for directions. I DO hope they made it out alive...

I have to admit that the river crossing they were talking about was the worst on the FT. Other hikers had warned me already of Alaqua Creek talking about chest high water. Maybe it is because I am 6 ft tall or the water levels have receded - it was only waist high when I came through. Still bad enough with a good current, but the ground was sandy. The water just reached the bottom of my backpack and I made it to the other side walking - not swimming.

Right now I am at my last town stop in Crestview enjoying a novelty for me. There are no trail angels in Crestview and so I decided to give couchsurfing.com a try. And I was lucking - 2 possible hosts in Crestview. I contacted one trying to explain about the Florida Trail and it turned out that he is working for the Forest Service and knew all about the Florida Trail. He is actually the first "non-hiker" I have met in Florida who had heard about this trail. So I am having a wonderful rest day today at my first couchsurfing host and will tackle the last stretch of FT tomorrow!

1 comment:

eArThworm said...

So...are you done? If so...
C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S !!!