Surprise, surprise---the tent was wet again this morning. This is becoming somewhat of a recurring theme. Witnessed a beautiful sunrise with the first rays of morning light filtering through tall grass near my campsite. Allowed the sun a bit of extra time to dry off the tent before packing up and getting a start to the day. Shade is at a premium along the dikes. You might find a lone tree or two, but for the most part its just one long exposed stretch. Your best chance at getting out of the direct sunlight is sitting in the shadow of a pump house which you pass all too infrequently. My sun hat, sunglasses, bandanna and long-sleeve Under Armour Heat Gear shirt did a good job of protecting me from sunburn. Thank goodness for the breeze blowing most of the day keeping it tolerably pleasant
Even though the dikes are only raised seven to ten feet above the surrounding land, standing on top of them gives you a commanding view all around because they're higher than any other natural feature in the South Florida landscape. You can literally see for miles. The only disadvantage in this is that on a long, straight stretch along the canal it can seem as if you're not making any progress whatsoever, one orange grove, cane field or cattle ranch looking pretty much like the next.
I passed a person in a small tent on the dike at about nine this morning. I suppose I was a little dazed as I haven't seen anyone out on the trail since day one. Confused as well at someone still being in their tent at that hour. Should have stopped to ask if he was hiking the trail too, but I didn't. At times as a solo hiker I think I get into the habit of not talking, focused more on the miles ahead of me or the nature that surrounds me. One thing I can say is that the folks passing on the white gravel road below sure were friendly, waves and smiles as they drove by.
Not a long day by any means as I was setting up camp in a flat area just down from the dike by early afternoon. There were a couple of small palm trees but being next to a small ditch were in the wrong position to offer any respite from the sun. I went back up and over the dike to get water from the canal. Not the greatest source of H2O, but what else was I going to do? Put it through my gravity filter and hoped for the best. Did a bit of laundry by hand and, seeing as I was miles from nowhere, stripped down and had a nice field bath. With all the camp chores done, I had the chance to read a few more chapters from The Deerslayer. James Fenimore Cooper is one of my favourite american authors and Hawkeye (Natty Bumpo) is one of my favourite characters in literature.
Along the Dike