A cold night and a very chilly morning, so much so that it was a bit painful to grip the trekking poles. My hands were freezing! There were several burnt sections on the right hand side of the creek along with a downed bridge, a clear cut was up high on the left. Some fast walking put us at Devil's Hole by mid-morning. Had a pleasant time of it, taking a snack break at the picnic table and exploring the area a little. The Devil's Hole looks like a deep, circular, clear blue pond, its origin in fact being a sink hole filled with water. From what I could see while filling the water bladders, below the surface there were huge ass tadpoles bigger than the fish.
At "The Bluff" the trail turns away from Econfina Creek and slants across a clear cut. Back down in the woods on the other side, I was blindsided by a scrub oak and taken to the canvas. One instant I was looking off the trail to the left, the next instant--- CRACK--- I'm down in the dirt, dazed and confused, wondering what just happened. I hadn't even noticed the knotty branch sticking out head high into the trail. Now I had a bump on my head to show for it.
A blue blaze led down an old forest road overgrown with weeds that skirted the western shore of Rattlesnake Lake. At the end of the mile-long trail was our campsite sitting on high ground between the lake and a smaller body of water. I pitched my tent on flat ground next to a small stand of oaks covered with Spanish moss. A picnic table was situated under another shady oak about 15 yards away, messages inked in the wooden top indicating that we had missed a couple of girls named Kayla who'd been here on spring break a week earlier. One of them had penned a rhetorical question, "What happens when it turns out you hate the one you love?" Hopefully the time in this idyllic setting was sufficient to heal a broken heart.
I went for a swim around 4 p.m. even though it was breezy. Hesitant at first to take the plunge because of the cold and wind, I waded out to thigh deep water. Counting down from ten, I made a shallow dive and that was that---wet from head to toe. So exhilarating was it that I repeated the shallow dive another ten times. Then, I sat down on the sandy bottom and with water up to my neck just soaked. It was fabulous relaxing there with just my head above the surface, the wind brushing past my hair. Once immersed in the water, it wasn't cold at all. Jon decided to join me and I saw him go through the same process as me, building up the courage to dunk himself. Before long, he too was seated on the sandy bottom enjoying the curative powers of our Florida spa. :-)
We chatted for a time, both of us realizing that our journey in the Sunshine State was drawing to an end. No doubt this afternoon will be added to the treasure trove of memories.