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  • Archive for March, 2011

    socks
    I started these socks back in September with hopes of finishing them up for fall. That didn’t happen. Well, actually they were done before Christmas but I didn’t sew the toes up. It took another 1,000 miles of hiking for me to get around to that. So, here they are, finished and complete, but gigantic. They are more like booties for wearing around the house rather than socks. I don’t know if my gauge was off or I should’ve made a smaller size, but nonetheless they are finished and I don’t think I’ll be making socks any time soon.

    cowlscarf
    I had leftover yarn and thought I’d made a scarf but there wasn’t quite enough yarn to make it long enough. Instead I sewed up the ends and made a cowl. I think it will come in handy next fall and winter. It’s a simple shell stitch, nothing too difficult.

    blanket2
    Now I am starting on a baby blanket for my nephew who is due at the end of August or early September. Big Lots, a discount store that gets excess items from other stores, had tons of yarn and enough to pick through to put together a blanket. Loving these colors so far.

    blanket1
    I did all of this in the afternoon yesterday while watching old episodes of Dead Like Me.

    On a roll now and want to work on some other crochet projects that I have in my head. More fun stuff ahead!

    onion
    Not our onion, someone else’s but it was too pretty to pass up.

    watering

    reading

    butterfly

    tomato

    Several seedlings are getting their second leaves:

    carrot
    The carrots…

    dill
    the dill…

    cilantro
    and the cilantro!

    thinning
    Thinning out the okra…

    thinned okra
    and the unlucky ones plucked out.

    okra
    A few of the plants that will give us the beautiful fruit that we’ll make into gumbo or be fried up…mmmm!

    mom working

    chrisworking

    This past weekend my brother, my dad, Chris and I went to the Cross Timbers Trail at Lake Texoma to do a short backpacking weekend. My brother and dad have gone here many times with the Boy Scouts and my first trip here was in October 2008. I’ve wanted to go back ever since and funnily enough my brother had been wanting to go as well and mentioned it when we returned from the Florida Trail. We had to do some convincing for my dad since he wasn’t feel as in shape as he should be but my brother managed to twist his arm enough.

    We set off on Friday night, it’s about an hour and a half from Fort Worth, and did what my dad calls meadow crash which is the same as stealthing. It was dark when we arrived but set up easily.

    snake2
    The morning was beautiful, not too cold and not too warm. Good hiking weather. Dad walked over this small rough green snake but luckily I spotted it before stepping on it. Chris was able to easily pick it up.

    curt3

    fishing2
    Chris and I were excited for a different kind of backpacking trip, going light and slow. No push for a 20 mile day, only did 6.5, stopped a lot and Chris got some fishing in. This is at the end of the Eagle’s Roost campsite down by the lake where he was catching catfish. He managed to catch some at 5-mile camp, a small one, for dinner.

    dad3

    curt2
    My brother disappeared for a hours to replace some geocaches a couple of miles away. He finally appeared walking the edge of the lake.

    water pumping
    Filtering some lake water; that is one nice thing about this short hike, that you don’t need to carry much water. There is a potable water source at the Cedar Bayou marina and of course access to water from the lake.

    dad2
    The wind kicked up later in the day and a chill came about the air. Chris and I only brought our Marmot Pounder’s, 40* bags. Turned out we should’ve brought our 15* bags! It got cold the second night!

    cooking
    Dad and Curt had trail food, Knorr noodles and a can of chicken. I’ve eaten enough of that in the last year that Chris and I nixed that and went for something else.

    campsite4
    Instead we went for chicken sausages that we could cook on the fire. Mmmmm, nothing like eating real food on the trail!

    group2
    We tried to reenact this photo which made my dad appear much taller than the rest of us, but we switched it up a bit.

    group

    baptisia
    I’m pretty sure this is Baptisia bracteata. Not too many flowers are blooming as this has been a very dry spring.

    hiking5

    eaglesroost
    This trail was packed over the weekend; Boy Scouts galore, and lots of other weekend hikers were out not to mention a few mountain bikers. Couldn’t believe it!

    hiking4

    rocks

    curt

    My creation

    lostloop2
    There’s a two mile loop that you can do but most people seem to skip it. I think I want to hit it the next time we go, though.

    oak

    cedar bayou

    coral root
    We did find two coral root orchids next to the trail and Chris had gone ahead of us at one point on the way in and taken the Lost Loop by accident and found a few there as well. I’d love to get some good photos of them but I think they will be peaking this week so I’ll need to scout somewhere else soon.

    dadcurt
    The hike out was pretty chilly with the wind whipping up off the lake and once out of the trees we could feel quite a bit of mist.

    We decided that we should do this at least three times a year, too hot in the summer here. Love getting out and doing some exploring! This is a great trail to come out to if you are in the north Texas/southern OK area.

    After a year without a garden Chris and I now have two. Kinda. Our parents are kindly letting us help them with their garden, but I think they are rather enjoying the free labor. Ok, I suppose it is our due since we are enjoying room and board at each of their homes, but at least it is a pleasurable form of labor. Of course all of it is just making me wish I had an acre or two to plant a gigantic kitchen garden, build a greenhouse to grow all of the tropicals we used to, and to grow all sorts of interesting natives and bulbs.

    Until then we have their yards. Here’s a small tour of Chris’ mom and step-dad’s yard and what’s growing there.

    greens
    Ornamental cabbage going to flower

    chrisgolf
    Chris’ step-dad is an avid golfer and had a putting green installed in the back yard. Chris was out practicing for a short round of golf they went and played.

    rosebud
    Gayle has a lot of roses in her yard and most are putting on buds.

    tomato5
    And of course I am a sucker for tomatoes.

    tomatillo

    tomato4
    I cannot wait to eat from all of the gardens this year!

    tomato3

    tomato2

    tomato1

    zinnia
    A zinnia. How do you pronounce this? Chris and I used to say “Z-een-yuh” but it sounds a lot like the coral Xenia that Chris used to grow so now we’ve taken to calling it “Zin-e-uh”. I don’t like it as much.

    flower3

    flower2

    flower1

    mitzi2
    Of course it wouldn’t be right to not have a few photos of Mitzi. I keep trying to get Guinness but he is never around when I’ve got the camera!

    mitzi
    Trouble!! 😉

    I’ve been digging around to find natural areas in the DFW Metroplex in order to explore some of these areas a bit more. Several months ago I’d bookmarked Spring Creek Forest Preserve in north Garland as an option to see. Finally on Tuesday we made our way out there. Turns out it is very close to my in-laws house and close to a Freebirds, so it was perfect!

    There are two entrances on each side of Holford Rd, a two lane country road that you would have seen in this area even 5 years ago, but now most of them are spreading out to four lane and being colonized with shopping plazas. This was a wonderful respite from all of that!

    yellowasters
    Senecio ampullaceus, I think. This was the predominate flower blooming in the area.

    grape hyacinth
    More grape hyacinth on their way out. The bottom blooms are going to seed.

    whiteflower

    tl
    We did find a lot of trout lilies here, though they were already past their peak.

    seedpod
    It seemed that there was a better rate of flowering and pollination here than at Tandy Hills.

    bow

    trail2

    overwith
    A lingering flower.

    whitebuds
    I’m thinking this is a viburnum but am not sure.

    creek
    The creek running through is really beautiful and the water is clear, but it is sad to see the shoreline littered with mostly plastic bags. They are up high and down low and really ruin the shots. You can see a blue one in this photo if you look hard enough.

    buds

    trail

    phlox
    Verbena

    yellowflower
    Lithospermum incisum, fringed puccoon.

    garlic
    More evidence of previous homesteads, garlic or onion of some sort growing wild.

    blueflowers

    redbud seeds
    Lingering red bud seed pods from last season.

    I will definitely be exploring here more as the seasons change.

    Chris’ mom and step-dad have Netflix via their Wii and we’ve been watching a few movies from that lately. My brother also only has Netflix for his tv now, something Chris and I will probably be doing when we settle down again. We never paid for cable other than the very basic stations in conjunction with our internet. However, I enjoy watching movies and there are some tv shows on cable stations I enjoy so it will be nice to have Netflix in this aspect.

    We’ve been watching a few documentaries, two of which were AT related, Southbounders, though more docu-movie since it has actors, and the Nat Geo Wildspaces AT documentary. One night we were flipping for something to watch and I spotted Tapped. I remembered reading something about it from Kal’s blog awhile back and thought it’d be good to watch.

    A lot of it I already knew of (the floating trash piles in the Pacific), and some I didn’t. It brought to mind some of the signs we saw on the Florida Trail around U.S. 98 and J.R’s Aucilla Store. There were signs protesting Nestle Water coming in to haul off water from the springs and rivers in the area. I didn’t think much of it at first other than thinking they were going to build some bottling plant and how ugly that would be in the area.

    The point is, if you look on a lot of bottled water it is just regular old tap water. Nothing special. Even if you buy something like Fiji water, why on Earth do you need it? Why can’t the folks of Fiji keep their own water? Most of the time when I buy bottled water it is because I am at a convenience store and need something to drink and I don’t want a soda. I should have a reusable bottle on me at all times, but of course I forget a lot. At my previous job, the one before the AT, I got pretty good at keeping a coffee mug and water bottle on hand in an effort to not use plastic or Styrofoam and throw it out.

    One morning I was poking around different blogs and found something else relevant, a TED talk regarding water rights and what they’ve done to streams out west. Western water rights are much different than eastern water rights and some of that is explained in the talk here. But, the Tapped video also discussed some of the eastern water rights issues particularly in Maine and some of the rules surrounding it. It’s very, very interesting and disturbing.

    Some of my blog digging turned into reading about plastic and how to reduce your consumption of it. I found a great Plastic Free Guide by a woman who is trying to go plastic free or use previously used plastic such as cat crates and the like. She also linked to some other interesting bottled water issues. And then I was kinda grossed out by the plastic in gum thing. I knew that gum had a lot of petroleum based products in it, but some of the plastics used…ick.

    I found the plastic free woman via a post on plastic in the garden and thought of all the plastic pots I’ve picked up over the years only to have the sides crack on me. While we did use a lot of plastic containers in our container garden in Florida we had switched over to using a lot of clay pots for their ability to be used longer and their aesthetically pleasing abilities.

    Then there is another thing I just read, something I am contemplating but will have to read more on before I got into this, but Nuthatch had posted something about how to go without shampoo. I was thinking of how oily and nasty my hair gets after two weeks of hiking and thought this might not be worth it. But, perhaps I’ll give it a try sometime.

    Now on the other end of all this is the consumption and such. As it is spring a lot of the magazines are talking about spring cleaning but an Oprah magazine article touched on the other items that cling to us, the ones with all the memories. I’m a big sucker for keeping things because of some memory attached to it. Chris will roll his eyes because he will agree to this about me. I am slowly helping my mom get rid of things like this, items she’s not used, things she bought or received and kept for such and such memory. I know that when I get our stuff out of storage I’ll be going through it again even though I’d done it before we moved. Keeping newspapers, tidbits of stuff I wanted to scrapbook (no happening), books, scrapbook supplies, knick-knacks. You name it, a lot of it has a memory attached to it. Or not even a memory, just that it was given to me by someone who is close to me. Some of it I will keep and use in another way, items from my childhood will be used in a kids room, that kind of thing.

    Another thing I noticed while hiking was how much junk people collected in their yards. This is definitely a country thing since a lot of city regulations prevent this in suburbs, but the hoarder’s show focuses on indoor people, but dang, they need to talk to the people who collect junk outside, too. Have you seen American Pickers ? We watched as the hosts picked through a man’s yard in Ohio, I think, and they wanted to get a few things but he would always find a reason to keep it, such as it was his kids and they might want it. I am willing to bet those kids will never do anything with rusted out junk. So. much. stuff!!!

    I guess one of the best things about backpacking and living in a different location from night to night is that you learn to use what you have an know you don’t need more. Sure, things wear out and you replace those items, but you only need one spork, one bowl, maybe two pairs of underwear, a couple of socks. I’m constantly telling myself I don’t need more clothes when I go out browsing because I really don’t. I have a closet full of items and that isn’t even all of it!

    So, I’m not sure where I ended up with on this little rant other than I am trying to be more conscious of things I buy, what their impact is on the environment and whether or not I really need something.

    I found out about the Bob Jones Nature Center in Southlake, TX from my friend Amanda. It’s among the many nature areas that line Grapevine Lake.

    On Monday evening I felt the need to take some photos and get out in nature some so Chris and I drove up to the preserve. It was deserted except for what appeared to be a staff or volunteer car next to the education building. We set off down the trails to the east and behind the education building not sure where we would end up. I initially didn’t take too many photos when I remembered that I could do a Nature in the City post. By this time we’d actually ended up on the outer boundaries of the preserve and into some of the Walnut Grove trails.

    Here’s a bit of what we saw:

    jarstillife

    jars
    We found lots of old jars and debris from old homesteads. I am kinda curious why some of these haven’t been cleaned up yet. Still, they provided interesting photography subjects.

    greens
    Another remnant of old homesteads, maybe broccoli?

    barbfence

    spring

    snaking
    Chris needed to kick around to see if there were any snakes hiding. No snakes!

    trailcrossing
    The trails were decently marked, though you could easily end up on an animal trail that has been taken by humans enough to have eroded into a real trail.

    sunset

    Estigmene acrea
    Estigmene acrea hanging on in the wind.

    blackberry
    There weren’t too many blooms but we did see a lot of blackberry vines.

    I’ll have to go back when we get some spring rains and see what else is poking around. Chris did scare off an owl, probably a barred owl.

    Chris was contacted by the Illinois Orchid Society in conjunction with the Orchid Recovery Program to utilize the video he put together of the sphinx moth pollinating the ghost orchid.

    You can see their video below with Chris’ video spliced in at around 3:43.

    We’re hoping that maybe this summer we can get to Florida in order to get some better photos of the sphinx moth pollinating the ghost orchids. Chris has something he’s trying to rig up. Of course that all depends on our job situation! But, don’t worry, you haven’t seen the last of ghost orchids from us!

    red

    As we left River Ranch I noticed the sky had clouded over a bit. We had a road walk to connect to another road walk, this time we were headed for S.R. 60, listed in the book as being incredibly full of traffic and quite dangerous to walk on because of a narrow shoulder and sloped grass sides. Our go to find-somewhere-at-20-miles-and-stealth wasn’t going to work here. So, we’d looked on the map and decided that we’d go to where it said “information” on the map at one of the lock’s at the Kissimmee River and S.R. 60 and hope it was good enough to pitch our tent.

    On our way out we passed where an old section of the Florida Trail ducks back into the woods. The map lists it as closed trail now, and I’m assuming it is closed because of Everglades restoration activities near the river, but I don’t know for sure. There is a small dirt parking lot to an entrance to the Kicco WMA here with a port o potty as well, so if your mileage put you here this would be a good place to camp for the night. But, again, we were headed for 18 at least and didn’t want to stop short since we had to make it to a particular place for a food drop in two days.

    When we arrived at S.R. 60 it was clear this was going to be a miserable walk. Luckily we didn’t have to go but maybe a mile or so to the place we thought we’d stealth. When we arrived we found a construction site at the lock but just passed that was a boat ramp and a decent space to set the tent up. The parking lot was full of empty trailers, the boats still out on the river. Eventually the boats slowly returned from their day on the water as we made dinner and set up camp. Our biggest worry was that a cop would come by an question us, but luckily no such thing happened. The only annoying thing was the sound of traffic through the night and some of the light from the construction area seeped into the tent. I had ear plugs, however, and Chris slept without them.

    We knew it was supposed to possibly rain the next day, so when a few minutes after waking that morning and it started storming, we weren’t surprised. Lightning, heavy wind and rain kept us inside for awhile but after listening to the radio and hearing it was going to be nasty for most of the morning and we had 24 miles to do, we decided to finally get out of the tent. Now, when it is pouring outside, you do everything you possibly can inside the tent, even eat breakfast if you have to. We are mostly strict about not eating in the tent because of food debris attracting bugs, mice, and bears in certain areas, but who wants to eat in the rain?

    Despite the rain there were a few people who waited out the lightning and launched their boats into the water. We found out from one of them that the heaviest stuff had passed and it should clear up as the day went on. This was good news as we headed down S.R. 60 in the rain. I was not looking forward to getting sprayed with water from oncoming traffic.

    It would be at least an hour and a half or perhaps two to get down the road and into a natural area again. Traffic was insane down the mostly two lane road with the occasional passing lane. As we walked we noted that there was definitely not a good stealth site in this area and we’d probably hit the best possible location. A few times we had to jump further off the shoulder because of the passing lanes; idiots who waited until the last minute were close to causing wrecks and I didn’t want to be involved in any of that.

    Finally we saw a brown sign in the distance and it gave us a glimmer of hope we were almost off the road. As we inched closer (it seems like inching when you walk next to 70mph cars) we were pleased to see the sign said Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area. We turned off the busy road to walk down a dirt road bordered by cattle ranches. Here we found our third otter in as many days scuttling across the road. At the end of the dirt road we saw the official green sign marking the entrance to the WMA. To the west we saw a field of deserted RVs and a sign that said something about the FTA. I sat down and took a break while Chris went to investigate and found no one around.

    Next up we followed the eastern fence line boundary into the WMA, which was unfortunately a fluffed up fire lane. Seriously, why does the trail insist on following these things? Difficult to walk on; I hate them! I mean, find the hardest part on the beach to walk and you can simulate walking on these fire lanes. Eventually we left the fire line and headed off into a thicket of palmettos. Thankfully it had stopped raining and was mostly cloudy at this point but it would have been very hot had the sun been out. I could see a mile or so off that we were heading for a hammock to which we finally arrived at.

    Once inside the hammock it felt a bit like ‘home’. I mean that in the swamp exploring kind of home way. The cabbage palms and some of the floor of the hammock were covered in moss and there was a very tropical and ancient feel to the place. There were a few mosquitoes, though, one reason to get back into the open air. We reached a campsite in time for lunch and to dry out the tent from the morning. I called my brother and sister in law because they had a doctors appointment that day to find out about their newest pregnancy and I wanted to see if it was twins like we were all joking it would be. It wasn’t, just a single little baby in there, but healthy and that was the best point!

    Journeying further north we needed to fill up our water at Foderstack slough, which flows under some culverts at a road crossing. The water was plentiful if a bit tinged with tannin. We followed the road a bit until we ditched off to the west and into an oak hammock that looked like a nice camping spot. Eventually we hit a fence line that we followed for awhile, no fluffy sand this time, and then onto an old raised tram.

    In the middle of the WMA is a figure eight style trail system, with the FT heading up the southwest and northeast sides of the eight. We met this junction at a small bridge crossing and what we thought was going to be a log book, but only found worn out pages from old books. We ducked through more cabbage palms and found a pond with an alligator.

    Not far from Lake Jackson, less than half a mile, is a campsite with a water pump. As we were coming up to the site we saw a group of five or six people arriving too. They were there for the weekend and had used a dolly to haul some things out to the campsite. We chatted with them for a bit and found out they were from Miami and the local Sierra Club and had been to the spot before. Apparently the water pump worked last year but this time there were no bottles to prime the pump. More chatting revealed some of them had done sections of the AT and we informed them of our thru-hiking status on the FT and of the AT last year. That was one surprising thing on the FT was when we’d tell people our thru-hiking status they’d mention something about the AT, either that they’d done it along time ago, wanted to do it or had done sections of it. It’s quite interesting how many people know about it!

    Since we were stealthing again that night we needed to fill up on water and the group informed us that we could get water near the boat ramp at Lake Jackson and that there were some privies there too. WOO! We filled up with water and eyed the clouds to the west that had appeared ominous again. We had about another hour until we settled in for the evening so we minimized time dawdling as best as possible. We passed another group, this time Outward Bound appearing, a couple miles down further, and after eventually passing a fire tower we began hearing traffic on S.R. 523.

    We couldn’t find a suitable stealth site in the woods because the palmettos were too thick in this area so we ended up in a parking area on the eastern entrance of the WMA. Chris wasn’t keen on staying there but I’d had it for the day so we decided it was the parking lot and hoped we wouldn’t get run off by a wildlife officer. We ate in a minor hurry as those clouds were still threatening rain, and not long after we got in the tent did we hear a truck slowly pass, stop and then turn around. I poked my head out and sure enough it was a wildlife officer. He asked if we were on the FT and I said yes, he told us we could camp anywhere in the woods, to which I said there wasn’t anywhere flat enough for us to camp (do you wanna sleep on a long palmetto stump?) and he said, ok and have a good night!

    The next morning we set the alarm a smidge early since we were meeting Chris on 441 for our food drop. We crossed S.R. 523, also the splitting point for the western loop around Orlando (we were taking the eastern loop), and found that there were at least two sites that were stealth worthy, one by a small pond and and another a short ways passed that near a bench that was oddly placed. It was a nice walk through that section of the WMA and finally we came to the Florida Turnpike. We’d driven down the turnpike many times and thought that it would be nice to explore this area and here we were, walking under the turnpike and in the area we wanted to explore. East of the Turnpike is a nice campsite, maybe two miles east of the highway, that we stopped at for a break. No water, but still nice under the oaks and with a picnic table.

    The last stretch to 441 we found some areas with puddled water on the trail, having to jump around that, but for the most part it was good, clear trail. I was expecting 441 to be quite busy in this area so as we suddenly saw a car a quarter mile away I was stunned to think we’d walked up on it so quiet. We were a little early so we didn’t think Chris would be there but I spotted what I thought was his truck pass by to the north. We were close to the fence by the road but had to jaunt north to go over a stile when I saw his truck go south again. Chris and I found a decent spot for him to pull over at a driveway entrance to a cell tower, threw down our packs and set up to have some trail magic from our friend.

    We had plenty of time left in the day so a two hour break sounded good to us. Chris brought the items to make hamburgers and grilled for us on the back of his truck while we went through our food box. It’s always sad to fill up our food bags after having it so light and empty on a last day or two and then, your pack is heavy again. *darn* Chris had brought his laptop so we could try our SD card and figure out if the photos were really disappearing or not. They were. Only a few were displaying and the rest were showing up as not even being there! Bummer.

    chrismisti
    Finally we decided we needed to start our road walk north on 441 and get the rest of our miles out of the way and Chris needed to head home, a good two hours south. Thank you so much for dropping food to us twice, Chris! You were a life saver!

    The 2.5-3 mile road walk went quickly and we found the trail went into Forever Florida, a private conservation and outdoor activity center. We wound around a few of the roads there and decided to skip the restaurant that you can go to since we’d had our trail magic burgers already. Then we turned south and it seemed like we weren’t going how the map outlined. I tried to glance at the map once or twice a day and try to memorize the general trend it went so I could anticipate a turn or stop. This just felt different. We walked south for awhile, then east and finally back north. Apparently the trail had been rerouted south instead of following a dirt road to the east like we’d thought. There went at least an extra mile or two to our day! Bummer.

    Inside Forever Florida we saw only a few people, some workers driving work trucks and others enjoying the ropes course we walked past. Other than that it was incredibly quiet. I thought it was kinda cool that all the dirt roads through the preserve were named for I’m guessing the family members of the owners since some of the last names were the same as the owners. Eventually we reached the boundary of Forever Florida and Bull Creek WMA. Chris and I remembered we’d been to the very northern edge of this WMA once while geocaching. I vaguely remembered seeing orange blazes and passing a campsite, but it had been at least seven or eight years since we’d been there, when we’d lived in Melbourne.

    I was beginning to get end-of-the-day-syndrome, a syndrome where you get tired and think you are closer to camp than you really are. Ever day doesn’t produce this, just the days where you feel like time has slowed down and you should’ve been making better time than you have been. We wound through palmetto thickets and scrub areas and I would pick out a higher elevated area (something that can be difficult to see in Florida for people not used to telling minute differences in elevation in a flat area) in the distance marked by oak or pine trees and think we were getting close to a campsite. Then we would turn away from that supposed campsite and I’d get mad in my head. Oh, I just wanted to be at camp!

    Finally we found the Little Scrub campsite, a sandy area with a few pine trees and a picnic table. There was supposed to be a water pump here and Chris rounded a corner and found it.

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    We threw our packs down on the table and Chris went to see if he could get the pump to work. He was feverishly pumping away when all of a sudden he yells at me to bring the 4 liter platypus we have for carrying a larger amount of water in the evenings and I scramble to find it in his pack. At this point water is barely coming out of the pump, but it is enough to fill up the platypus. Chris’ arms are getting tired so he has me switch over but my arm muscles aren’t nearly as strong as his so I don’t last very long. Somehow we manage to fill up the container.

    As I sat back down on the picnic table I noticed that a lot of brilliantly red birds are flying around. I mention it to Chris and when I see more I point them out. I was thinking that they’d be some cool migratory bird but turns out they were just robins. Robins are a dingy looking red normally but when the late evening sun is bouncing off them they are a brilliant red that makes them appear more exotic. Little groups fluttered through for awhile until the sun started setting more.

    It got very cold that night and we should have zipped our sleeping bags together, but instead we shivered alone in our separate bags. We woke the next morning to frost on the fly and much of the water in the platypus, since we’d left it on the table, frozen. It was a difficult time getting the poles undone that morning and we had to warm them up with our hands to get them out. I brought my gloves on this trip because I knew there might be times like this and I am a wimp with cold. A few times Chris had to borrow them for instances such as this because a few moments out in the cold would stiffen his hands.

    Despite the cold it was a clear, crisp morning. The night before we’d made a phone call to Steve, the guy who’d told us that going east on the Okeechobee levee was going to be a no-go and he’d invited us to call him when we got in the Titusville area and he’d pick us up and let us shower and do laundry at his home. We’d told him where we were and that we thought it might be at least two or three more days until we got to Christmas, FL where it was closest to Titusville. Steve mentioned that he might be able to meet us out at Bull Creek near the U.S. 192 the next afternoon but we really didn’t think that would happen.

    We left the scrub area in Bull Creek and walked along an old logging tram through some cypress and swamp areas. It was really pretty beautiful in there; no alligators were seen. We met a grandfather and grandson out squirrel hunting but that was the only people we saw while out in Bull Creek. A few more miles and we ended up at the Jane Creek campsite where we saw a man waiting around at the picnic table. I had a feeling it was probably Steve and as we got closer we said hi and found out that it was indeed him.

    We sat down and chatted and decided to have an early lunch even though we’d planned to get to the road about another mile further up. It was there that Steve offered to slack pack us on some of the road walk. I’d thrown this idea out to Chris the night before when it was a possibility that Steve might come out to meet us. We hadn’t slack packed a single mile on the AT, well, I guess you could call lightening our load for the climb up Katahdin a bit of a slack, but we’d carried our packs the whole way. After doing some of the other road walks and anticipating a 24 mile road walk (what the book said, the maps were more like 36 miles) I thought that carrying less would be better.

    At the road we switched out our packs for Steve’s small backpack and threw some water and snacks in there and off we went down U.S. 192!

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