Up before the sun in order to break camp before the county sheriff asks me what the heck I'm doing here. Another five hours along asphalt, but it wasn't as bad as yesterday. It was in the morning so temperatures were cooler, the weather was cooperating, providing a little cloud cover, the roads were tree-lined, creating plenty of shade since the sun was still low and, as an added bonus, there was even ground next to the shoulder. In addition, very few cars travelled these roads. However, one that did pulled over and stopped beside me. The driver asked if I was doing the Florida Trail. Almost before I could reply, I was given a V8 and a banana. Turns out he was a trail angel giving a section hiker a ride to the Taylor Creek trail head.
Finally finished with paths built for cars, I walked the last couple of miles exclusively for those on foot. It was a pleasant surprise to see benches, a picnic table and a port-a-potty when I arrived at Tiger Branch Campsite. Took my time setting up my tent, airing out my sleeping bag and reading from The Last of the Mohicans. Margaret, the section hiker/passenger in the trail angel's car arrived at 3 p.m. She's done quite a bit of both the Florida and Appalachian trails, but only as a section hiker. Only out for the weekend, she offered me some dried apples and strawberries which she had dehydrated at home. She also had a surplus of drinking water which she threw into the bargain. How could I refuse for just like Little Scrub Campsite, no matter how much I tried to prime the pump, I couldn't draw out even a drop of liquid from the well. I learned that in the hot weather the rubber seals dry out and crack so when you crank the handle there's no suction because they won't seal properly.
Anyway, Margaret teaches physical therapy at a university in St. Augustine. She earned the trail name "Hammer" from her students due to her being strict and very demanding in the classroom. She's also a retired Colonel (full bird), having served in the Air Force Reserve.
As the conversation waned, I retired to my tent before the mosquitoes got too thick. Camped in the midst of pines and palms, a breath of wind was stirring the treetops and rustling the fronds as I drifted off to sleep.
The Long and Not So Winding Road