The official hike ended at Port Mayaca the previous day, but I hiked a couple of miles further to set up camp away from the trailhead. Trailheads tend to be where undesireable weirdos hang out late into the night, and I'd just as soon be off by myself.
I set up camp on the lake side of the dike so the traffic noise on the other side was more muffled and so that people in the buildings there couldn't watch me pee when it was neccessary for me to do my thing. And anyhow, the lake was pretty.
I spent the night watching the stars. Absolutely beautiful. There were some lights visible on the horizon from towns along the lake like Clewiston and Okeechobee, but it was still plenty dark and the Milky Way wonderfully bright. Two bright planets--Venus and Jupiter, I assume, were up just over where the sun set.
The next morning, the other Big-O hikers planned to wake up at an unholy hour to be at the trailhead by 6:30. Yes, in the morning! I know!
Fools. Not me. No, I figured if they started hiking at 6:30, the first hikers wouldn't reach my location until 7:00 or so, and that would be a much better time to hike.
I woke up, and checked my watch. It was 5:15. Those other fools were probably eating breakfast by then, but I would get to sleep for another hour or more. HA!
I woke up again, and a few hikers were going past. Holy cow! How did that happen? I checked my watch--that's odd, I thought. It was still 5:15. And getting remarkably light outside for such an early hour.
Drats, my watch stopped. I immediately got up, made some breakfast, brushed my teeth, and packed up camp--all while being observed by a parade of hikers who would wave down to me. =)
When I finished and was ready to hike, the last of the hikers had arrived, and I fell in with them.
The day was nice. Partly cloudy, windy at times, but nothing particularly noteworthy to report.
After 13 miles, the day's hike was over. Several people by now were suffering badly from blisters, and I encouraged people to name them but I don't think anyone did. My feet, I'm happy to report, are doing just fine, but flat hikes of 11 and 13 miles respectively are relatively easy for me.
At the parking lot, I filled up with clean water that other hikers had so I didn't have to drink the nasty surface water of Lake Okeechobee. I had my purifyer to drink the water if necessary, but I'd rather not if I didn't have to!
Another hiker, whose name I now forget, offered cold orange juice from the cooler in her car and a couple of small packs and M&Ms. Woo-who! Trail magic!
Then I walked a couple of more miles up the dike and set up camp again--another beautiful lakeside view!--near mile post 52.