Some fine walking this morning along the banks of the Kissimmee, the sun highlighting the wispy vapour rising off the river. The main camping area happened to be a quarter of a mile down a side road from the boat ramp. All kinds of pickups and RVs were parked just off the trail and tents the size of small hotels were standing in the back of each campsite. Nobody was awake at this hour, the only noise coming from a barking dog as I silently slipped by. The trail was a little bit wetter than it had been on previous days especially when crossing Gum Branch and passing Tick Island Slough, but it was quite apparent that the water levels were low compared to other times of the year. I loved the black water of the slough, which perfectly reflected the brilliant blue sky and the cypress trees growing around its edge. However, I wasn't too thrilled with the name---Tick Island. Assuming the name had to be earned by providing a welcome habitat to the blood-sucking, disease-spreading insect, I checked my arms and legs regularly to make sure there were no creepy crawlies trying to attach themselves to my flesh.
In addition to the slough, there were some absolutely magnificent oaks along the trail that impressed me as well. Massive trunks supporting branches so long that they seem to be defying all we know about the laws of gravity. Spanish Moss growing so plentifully, it was as if some branches had been hung with curtains. Here it was that I had my second raccoon sighting, the masked creature ambling across the trail in front of me.
Kicco Road was no fun, exposed to the sun as I was, the white sand and rock reflecting the heat up into my face. The only real positive was that the walking was quick, so I didn't have to spend too much time baking like a rotisserie chicken before I was back under the welcome branches of the oaks. There must be a fair amount of free range cattle in this area because heifer hoodoos and steer strafing were a prominent feature on or near the trail.
By 3:30 in the afternoon I entered the Kicco Wildlife Management Area game station. Nobody was manning the check point, so I had the place to myself. I "showered" and washed the dust out of my socks at the game dressing table. Stepping on the scale, it read 180 pounds. No big weight loss, maybe just a few pounds which is a good thing. I figured since I wasn't doing the 30 mile days like I did on the PCT and therefore not burning as many calories, maintaining my body weight wouldn't be such a problem.
As beautiful as the oak trees are, I miss the mountains and grand, sweeping vistas of the Sierras. I haven't seen anyone all day and consequently haven't spoken a word. Those reading this journal should try it sometime. It's harder than you think. Anyway, it's time for me to go and set up camp.
Tick Island Slough