Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Frozen and flooded

The weather being so cold and wet I had to be creative with camping and rest stops.

How do you camp in this?
One great stop was Olustee battle field: It was conveniently raining when I got there and I spent about 1 hours and 5 runs of their little documentary video in the little museum there. The place is quite nice - but 5 runs of this video is a bit too much! When I headed out my goal was Ocean Pond camp site - a pay State Park campsite for 8 $ but with HOT showers! When I arrived there totally drenched and cold, the camp ground hosts had so much pity with me that she gave me a ride to the primitive campsites with her golf cart. Very nice of her - but very stupid of me to forget my trekking poles in the golf cart and so I had to walk all the way back and get them....

Madison Shelter
Next night record cold with predicted again and I was doing a 22 mile day to get to a private shelter on the Florida Trail: Madison Shelter. I should have read the guidebook better though: The shelter was very nice indeed, but it consisted of mosquito mesh walls and a roof only - and that does not keep you very warm in the cold! But it had a very nice stove and I learnt very quickly that dry palmetto leaves are a very good very starter, but rotten wood burns very badly. I was warm and toasty on the front and cold on my back, and once I went to sleep the fire went out after an hours or so and I was horribly cold. Big surprise: In the morning my socks and shoes were frozen so solid that it took me about half an hour to thaw the shoes out so I could get even into them.

Rice Creek Shelter
Bottom line: I needed a rest day and luckily White Springs was coming up. And I was very lucky to go to the Suwannee River campground first where I got a cabin with TWO electrical heaters and hot showers for 50 $. Not only did a get a 10% discount for hiking the FT, they also gave me free laundry soap and towels and on top of that there were free computers and a huge library. What more did I need for a rest day? Yes, an AYCE buffet, which was about 1 mile away in town and a great deal for 6.50 $. I had a wonderful rest day in White Springs, the only draw back being that I had to walk over 1 mile into town and that the resupply options consisted of a Dollar General and a tiny "Redneck store" with hardly any choice.

To get to White Springs I had to hike across Osceola National Forest and this was the very first time I could complain about bad blazing. Osceola had suffered from a big forest fire some years ago and on top of that they had just recently had some prescribed burns (seems to be the topic of my FT hike....). Therefore most of the blazes had gone and not been replaced yet. On top of all that half of the forest was badly flooded and so I ended up wading in knee-deep water scratching off soot from the trees to see whether there were traces of orange paint underneath. I have to brag a bit here and tell you that I never got lost once - it took me a while and some searching, but I did not get lost like the other two hikers I met in the forest.
This is how you get your feet wet

In White Springs I went to the Ranger Station to get some information on the upcoming section and had a hilarious encounter. Some other tourist was there complaining about the bad conditions in Osceola National Forest. I told him that I had been hiking through that and thought I had not been that bad. "Oh no!", he said. "If I had hiked through that I would have gotten my shoes wet!"

1 comment:

Suwanee Refugee said...

Yeah, wouldn't want to get your shoes wet. Tourists...