Monday, February 14, 2011
Hike 4: Indian Ford Road to Holt, FL
On Sunday February 14, 2011 I wandered outside about 7:00 am only to find frost on my windshield - one of the few times I've had this happen this Winter. Regardless, I loaded up and went with seven others to take Trek #4 on the Florida Trail. By the time we began our hike just after 9:00 am it had warmed considerably and promised to be a sunny day in the low-mid 60's. We began at Indian Ford Road just east of Juniper Creek. In no time we crossed a small unnamed creek and headed into a pleasant Pine forest. At 1.6 miles we came to a dirt road that we followed a short way (1300 feet) before turning back into the State Park by crossing a locked gate. We soon came to another small water crossing. There was limited mud to hike through, more so than in other hikes. Although, I must say the softer ground was pleasant on the feet. after a good rain I'm sure it becomes more of a slog. It was also about this time that we first noticed the think black smoke ahead in the distance. My first thought was that we might have our hike cut short by the burning of a forest along the trail we plan to hike today. I had visions of hiking back to our car along the roads instead of along the trail. At 2.7 miles we arrived at the Deaton Bridge Trailhead. This location featured a great view of the Blackwater River, a swimming hole (that we did not venture into) a park (complete with running water) a bridge (Deaton Bridge, I assume) and a great beach to play on. The photo at the top of this entry shows a Cypress bog located at this same location, as well. We pause briefly to conduct our first business meeting on the Trail. A motion is made, seconded and approved, to award trail names to two of our hikers. Mike Van Dyke is officially dubbed "Sherpa" because of his propensity to pack enough on his hikes to keep all of us in supply of any and every need we might have from Moleskin, to batteries, to a desalinization processing plant in case we find ourselves stranded out on the Gulf. Ben Gillam is granted the moniker "DT", which stands for Dick Tracy, due to the high tech watch he wears that tells us how far we've gone, how fast we've gone, how many calories we've burned, any elevation changes we've encountered, our average pace of hiking, our anticipated 2010 IRS Tax Refund, and which spouses back home are currently engaged in inappropriate behavior while we're out hiking this trail.
After individually worrying about the forest fire up ahead, but being unwilling to discuss it collectively in fear of putting a hex the hike we finally come to the fire we've been seeing up ahead. Two State Forest officials are using kerosene to ignite the fire. Luckily the trail stays to the west of the blaze and the wind is blowing to the east and our hike is not interrupted by the fire.
At 8.03 miles (DT's watch is very precise) we emerge from the woods at the intersection of Deaton Bridge Road and Hwy. 90. This is the point where the trek from Alabama connects with the Trek from Pensacola and we begin or Eastern push along the Panhandle. WE have 8+ miles to hike along the highway which, at first blush, I fear will be boring. But it's not as bad as I figured. We are frequently able to hike down dirt side roads that shelter us from the traffic. We pass a farm with a small but excitable dog, many chickens and a couple of huge turkeys (enlarge the picture and look at the top left corner to get an idea of size). we hike through Floridale and we chuckle at a sign that warns us to "Watch out for Jesus?".
finally, we pass a well-to-do horse farm who's owner has plenty of time to try and educate motorists who drive by at 60 miles an hour and certainly to not have time read his/her treatise that continues to elaborate on the other side of the sign as well. We arrive at the car after a total hike of 16.5 miles at 3:00 pm having hiked at about a 2.75 mile per hour pace. I have two large blisters on the balls of my feet that will keep me hobbling for a few days I'm sure. To be fully truthful, I must say that I'm a member of the last pack to arrive at the car, Brian chose to run the last 8 miles and beat us by about 90 minutes and the two women on the hike motored away from us to finish about 10 minutes before us.