I didn't have to get up to use the bathroom last night. Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles! Dean Campsite was our final camp in the woods. From there it really wasn't far to SR 87 and a sidewalk stroll through Navarre. We made a brief stop at the visitors center before making our way to a fairly expensive Winn-Dixie for resupply.
It was a wonderful sight to see the Santa Rosa Sound but even better to be crossing the bridge to the barrier island and Navarre Beach. Once past the hotel and residential areas, the Florida Trail follows the shoreline. The beach was not what I had expected. Being from Southern California, I had envisioned a rather flat beach and a nice place for hikers to walk where the ocean waves lapped up on the sand. Instead, the beach face was steep, forming too sharp of an angle to walk there comfortably, so it was off into the flatter area of soft dry sand, which made walking tough. After a long trudge, I could no longer resist the call of the surf and the clear gulf water. Dropped pack and headed out splashing into the waves. Magnificent. Afterwards, we made it to the halfway point where a beach facility had showers to wash off the salt and sand.
Jon was tired of the sand slog, so we went along the hard shoulder of the road. It was a pretty sensible decision and progress was much faster. An hour's more push and the larger dunes appeared on the left. As the shadows grew longer, we left the road and forged into the dunes looking for a place to bed down for the night. We found a flat place behind the sand mounds that was concealed from the road so nobody could see us. Settling in, we prepared our evening meals. Jon sacrificed some tuna to a voracious clan of dune ants, but trying to move the prize further from his sleeping area, he nearly incurred their wrath. With peace offerings on the outskirts of our camp, the ants were satisfied and had no need to harry us with scouting forays. I didn't bother erecting the tent because the stakes would not have held in the soft sand. Bundled up in my cold weather gear, I slept beneath the stars and a crescent moon. In the wee hours of morning a thick marine layer moved in bringing a touch of mist to an otherwise dry and parched world.
The Dastardly Pirate
Gulf Islands National Seashore