Date: 16 Jan 2018 07:45PM EST
Location: Camping near mile 260.5
Today's Miles: 11.9
Total Miles: 260.5
Woke up before first light. Bunch of critters around where I setup camp last night. Not sure what the heck was going on but there sure was a lot of rustling and dragging and cracking of branches. Sure would hate to be an animal that can't see very well in the dark but had to be up and about at night.
Packed up and walked over to the pitcher pump in camp before heading out. Guidebook has some comments in it that the water quality here was... less than desirable, but I went for it anyway. Smelled a lot like gasoline, but only tasted mildly bad through my filter, so I drank a liter and packed two out for the ten miles before my resupply location.
Encountered a four mile section of trail today that took *WAY* longer than it should have due to incredibly poor blaze placement and an extremely poorly maintained section of trail.
I realize this sounds like self-entitled hiker privilege, but hear me out. I understand firsthand the hard, almost always volunteer work, that goes into maintaining a section of trail. I am so appreciative of the sacrifices of those who maintain the trails, for without them there'd be no trail at all.
But: this section was so poorly maintained that it appeared to be abondanded, as if the trail had been rerouted but no one let the hikers know.
I'm not asking for a perfectly pristine foot and a half wide path with no roots, grasses, rocks, blowdowns, water hazards, or other wilderness obstacles, but when a hiker can't follow the blazes because they're incorrectly utilized or placed in a haphazard fashion, it becomes **way** less enjoyable, much more frustrating, and unsafe for less experienced hikers.
This section was much worse than anything I've experienced out here, but it's an unfortunate trend that I would really like to see corrected.
Because of the inordinate cost of *anything* at my previously intended resupply location, I looked ahead in the guidebook and managed to find a location a bit up the way. Trick is, it was ten miles off trail, and I've already been warned multiple times that the Florida Trail is not like other trails I've hiked and that hitching would be rather difficult. They were all so right.
Short story is that it took me over five hours to get ten miles down the road, resupply, and get a hitch back. Seeing that I've already had one privileged rant today, I'd just like to say that I absolutely appreciate the kindness of strangers and this time it just didn't work out for me because I ended up walking most of the way back to the trail as so many vehicles passed my outstretched thumb by.
Arrived back to the trail as the sun was setting, so I hiked away from the road crossing up the trail until I found a suitable flat spot to stealth at.
I can't overstate both how little long distance hikers learn about survival, yet how much different experiences translate to future hiking. So many (so many!) skills are learned on different trails and in different environments: whether it's learning to pare down carried gear (needs versus wants), drinking from less than pristine water sources (sorry AT, your water is just *too good*), or learning that it's OK to sleep in places other than establishes campsites as long as you take care (thanks PCT!), learning and growing both as an individual, and as a hiker, are what being out here is all about.