A starlit sky gave way to a steel-gray dawn, remaining overcast until noon. It was the coolest morning of the trek, so cold in fact that for the first time I used glove liners to keep my hands warm. It is winter after all, something easily forgotten when hiking in the Sunshine State.
I started in scrub and small pine, but reached some fire-scarred areas rather quickly. However, once on the forest road leading over Black Water Creek, the palms and other trees had closed in around me. No doubt the creek is appropriately named as its still waters look almost like oil.
Sharktooth Camp, situated in a clearing, was a fine spot for a mid-morning break. After downing a few peanut butter granola bars, I took a short side trail to check out Shark Tooth Springs which turned out to be a clear steady flow coming from the base of an elevated patch of ground. Although it formed a small creek, I didn't drink from it due to the distinct smell of sulphur emanating from its surface.
The nice cool walk in Seminole State Forest was interrupted at Cassia Trail Head by guess what---another road walk. It wasn't bad, but I've had too many of them already. When cars, motorcycles and eighteen-wheelers are roaring past you, you begin to ask yourself, "What's the point?!" I can walk along a road near my home. At least it would have a sidewalk. Let's face it, road walks are no fun. Yes, I can usually walk faster and cover more ground than on the average trail, but that's because I'm usually trying to bust past them and return to the footpath. A road walk is tougher physically because it really wears on your feet. It's also tougher mentally because you lose your motivation, sucking in fumes instead of fresh air. Oh well, now I've vented and I feel better for it.
Lunch was in the shadow of some tall pines near a dried out pond on Maggie Jones Road. Just off Boy Scout Road there's a pretty place the Boy Scouts of America have for their Jamboree. Plenty of oak trees and leaf-lined paths for hiking as well as a huge grassy area for tenting. My afternoon break was at a picnic table beneath the overarching branches of those oaks.
I made really good time today, finishing at Clearwater Lake by mid-afternoon. Much of that can be attributed to the road walking. At $18.50 a night I'm not likely to use these type of camps often. I suppose I was spoiled by the Pacific Crest Trail where the most I paid for a camp was $5 and that was the backpackers camp at Tuolomne Meadows in Yosemite, one of our nation's premier national parks. Anyway, took a refreshing shower, "washed" my clothes in the sink and shaved three weeks of growth off my face. Satisfied and semi-clean, I had enough time on my hands to polish off the second book of the journey, The Last of the Mohicans.
Black Water Creek
The Morning Trail