A pleasant beginning to the day tramping through scrub, palmetto and pine towards the cypress of Yoke Branch. At the southern edge of the branch there was an area that had just recently burned, smoke still rising from the trunks of a few toppled trees. Whether this was a controlled burn I couldn't tell, but considering the extent of the burn I'd say it was. There was a cypress swamp, but due to the extended dry spell during which there has been very little heavy rain, it was almost dry.
I saw Amoeba and Cloudwalker again. They are using a two car system in which they'll both drive to a trailhead, park one of the cars, then travel to where they want to start their hike, leave the second car there, hike the section, then hop in the first car and return to retrieve the second. Cloudwalker told me that he had heard news that Bradwell Bay was empty and that tomorrow he was going to check it out to see if it was true. I certainly hope that there is some water there. It would be a shame if there wasn't. Though forbidding, it was one of the unique swamp water places I was looking forward to experiencing. No water would clearly detract from that experience.
The highlight of today was the area around Crabgrass Creek, footbridges spanning the three branches, a wide variety of deciduous trees, palms, ferns and wildflowers growing along the sides of the path. At one point a black snake was seen sunning itself in the middle of the trail, before it slithered off into the underbrush. It was only a common racer snake, but my initial thought whenever I first catch sight of one is COTTONMOUTH!!!! My heart beats faster even when it's a false alarm.
Before the US 192 junction I paused briefly at Jane Green Campsite since the pump there was working. A faint hint of rust in the water, but that was understandable given the age of some of these pumps. I've definitely learned by now that Florida water isn't perfect.
I was walking the highway when the FT section chief pulled over with a friend in his pickup. We chatted a while about trail conditions and the number of hikers on the trail this year. It would seem that the Florida Trail is becoming more popular from what he said. He also informed me that I was in for a long road walk because the trail which had formerly crossed the Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch had had to be rerouted along the CR 419 when the owners withdrew their permission for hikers to cross. (Come on Mormons, let me through. After all, I'm a Mormon too.) What a long road walk it was too! From 13:30 to 18:30. Five hours on pavement under the blazing sun. Argh!
The fiery ball in the sky was falling fast and the skeeters were starting to swarm by the time I reached the junction with Nova Road. I hastily threw up my tent as fast as I could and jumped inside, thwarting the blood-thirsty insects attempts to drain my veins. I was probably camping illegally so close to a county road, but where else was I going to spend the night hemmed in as I was by fences bearing No Trespassing signs? My only hope is that nobody will notice me tucked away behind this small stand of trees and that I'll be left in peace.
Wildflowers near Yoke Branch
Bridge across Crabgrass Creek