Friday, December 05, 2008

Day 4: Out of Okeechobee!

As I swore to do the night before, I slept in until I felt good and ready to wake up in the morning. I woke up at about 7:00 in the morning, noting that the last people who needed shuttle rides back at the end of the day were expected to have gotten on the trail at least a half hour before. Rumor had it that some early birds started at 4:30 in the morning. Losers. =)

I flipped on the TV to the Weather Channel--some thru-hiking habits are hard to break!--then ate breakfast, packed up my gear, and hit the trail at about 7:45. The frame on my sunglasses, I was sad to note, had cracked at some point since I got into town and one of the lenses wanted to keep falling out. After an hour of hiking, I passed by one of our vans that were waiting to pick up some hikers part way, and borrowed a small piece of duct tape to hold my glasses together. At least long enough to finish the hike. Hiking in Florida without sunglasses would be suicidal!

Today's day of hiking was the longest--14.7 miles. That the official count, at least. Because of my camping on the levy, I didn't always do the same number of official miles each day as everyone else. For me, 14.7 miles was just the minimum distance to hike to keep up with the pack.

At this point, a growing number of hikers had been dropping off the trail or doing partial days of hiking due to blisters, sores, and pains. I had no blisters, and nothing more than the dullest of pains. Leaving Okeechobee, my pack was filled with extra food and water that I hadn't carried on my way in, but overall, I only expected it to take me three days to reach Moore Haven--the next good place to resupply--so my pack wasn't as heavy as it could have been.

After an hour or two of hiking, I caught with with the slowest of slow who left Okeechobee over an hour before I did, eventually passing eight of "our" hikers before reaching Indian Prairie Canal and the official end of the day's hike. I hiked in another 0.8 miles to a small backpacking campsite on the dike--the site of the infamous summer sausage caper. I was in familiar territory now. I had memories here--not always good ones, but they were mine. =)

I set up camp, cooked burritos for dinner, but at dusk, the bugs came out in force. My other two nights on the dike had a few bugs, but in limited numbers that quickly dropped off after the sun set and the temperatures started to cool. Not this night. The temperatures stayed miserably warm, but I wrapped myself in my sleeping bag to escape the onslaught anyhow. I tried to read my book with my headlamp inside the sleeping bag, but it was a mummy bag and not especially suited for reading in. (I brought a Carl Haasen book--Lucky You--a Florida author which seemed like the type of thing I should read while I was in Florida.)

I finally gave up trying to read, and just laid in the sleeping bag bored stiff and sweating bullets wishing the bugs would just go away. Well after midnight, the temperatures finally plunged and the bugs quit for the night. I put on additional layers of clothing for warmth, and finally got a good night's sleep. =)

No comments: