Ants invaded the tent last night perhaps as a way to get out of the rain or avoid the rising water threatening their home. A (un)healthy application of DEET deterred them from venturing further, so by the time of a gray and overcast dawn, I was once more the tent's sole occupant.
The worst of the rain had missed us, but it had obviously hit most of the rest of the area, as evidenced by ankle-deep standing water on the trail. It was hard walking on tufts of grass and over hidden holes that tested the strength and flexibility of our ankles. Swamp tromping in the thickets was sometimes not as bad as being up on the puncheons, which were extremely slick in some parts. Jon and I both slipped off a time or two, but luckily we didn't land on our keesters. The idea of keeping our shoes dry was abandoned from the outset. However, my biggest disappointment came from not seeing many live pitcher plants
To be honest, we did a bit of blue-blazing today, taking the Trail of Lakes instead of the orange blaze past Camel Lake Campground. I believe our choice was a more scenic route. Besides, the blue blazes looked freshly painted and the trail was very well maintained, the sandy roads giving us a break from the uneven ground and water walking. In addition, it saved us 1.5 miles on a long day to Blountstown.
When we reached County Road 12, we were happy to say goodbye to Apalachicola National Forest, but not too thrilled to be on another road walk. As it turned out, the trek to Bristol along this rural highway was arguably the nicest on the trip. Had a chance to stop at the library in town and resupplied at the good ole Dollar General. The last four miles into Blountstown were on a long highway bridge that crossed the Apalachicola River and spanned the swampy floodplain. I saw a number of big cypress trees as we walked the pedestrian side of SR 20.
The first thing you see in Blountstown is the bicycle path crossing under the state road and a KFC to your left. We made a beeline for the door. Sitting there eating our fill of fast food, we had several customers and a few employees who had seen our packs ask us what we were doing. When we told them, they could hardly believe their ears. For a short time under their astounded gaze, we became the KFC stars. Where are the paparazzi? Trail celebrities in town!
Meals finished and the hubbub surrounding us died down, it was high time to find a place to sleep seeing as how the sun had already set. The closest and most logical choice was just off the bike path under the highway bridge. It provided a roof over our heads and a flat piece of ground on which to lay out our sleeping bags. Cowboy camp. The rhythmic slap of tire tread above at last lulled me to sleep.
Dead Pitcher Plants
The Result of Torrential Rain