Miles today: 21. 6 miles
Miles so far: 752. 3 miles
Campsite: Ring Levee Campsite
Woke to the sound of Joey’s alarm going off thinking it was my own watch. We packed and was hiking by 720am. On the road walk I saw a tiny spec ahead of what could of been a hiker. Once I got to JRs Aucilla River store, it was indeed another hiker. Grits, was his trail name. Nice man who had hiked it a few times. We sat in the gas station and talked about the trail for a while until Joey arrived. I then went out to dry my tent in the sun.
When we took the jeep road that took us to the Florida Trail, we noticed it was wet but the jeep road wasn’t. Spur of the moment we decided to continue hiking on the jeep road but eventually we got our feet wet. It was too late to turn around and we decided to take it as far as it would take us. It ended with a dead end. We decided to bush whack. We could see on the trail on gps and it wasn’t too far. It was fun but ended up going through lots of swampy areas. So much for keeping our feet dry.
We finally arrived back on trail and I wrang my socks out. They were water logged. Joey wanted to check out the blue blaze trail as the guidebook mentioned it was a good spot for birders. We somehow missed the first turn off but kept out eyes open for the other end. In the meantime we saw 2 alligators off in the grass and ran off when we approached. We found the other end. I stayed back to dry my socks and sit down and soaked the sun. The trail itself seemed under water and not well maintained. After 30min, here came Joey coming back telling me it was absolutely disappointing side trail. Glad I stayed back. Few miles later, there was a very well marked “swamp hammock trail”. None of our guidebook or maps showed it. It actually wrapped around and ended on levee 2.6 miles later. We did not take that way as we were unsure as to where it may lead. We bush whacked enough for today.
I ran into Grits again and I pressed on. S
My campsite wasn’t too far away and I enjoy setting up my tent and relaxing. Once I arrived, it had gorgeous views of the area but was also extremely windy. Decided to pitch my tent head first in the wind and the stakes seemed to be holding up… For now. Making dinner proved to be difficult. I am using an alcohol stove and wind makes it hard to heat my pot but managed to after a few failed attempts. St Marks area is quite beautiful and unique. Definitely a huge highlight of the trip. We could scan the horizon for miles and we were basically on the Gulf of Mexico. St Marks is the only refuge that allows backcountry camping in the country. Can’t wait to see more of it tomorrow.
Sunset was gorgeous and took a ton of photos. This was definitely one of the best campsite on the Florida trail so far… 750miles later!
The wind has died down and I am staying warm in my bag. Happy trails!