Florida Trail (2019-2020) 3: Suddenly Dry

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The trail was suddenly dry this morning. I encountered no water until a notorious alligator hole located directly beside the FT, where a small amount of water was visible. Guthook claims that the alligator lives underneath a ledge inside the hole, so despite no alligators being in sight, I wasn’t going to stick my hand in there. I continued along, reaching a wet cypress strand when I had about 300 ml of water left.

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The route was confusing in the vicinity of the gator hole and within a forest packed with long grass. I heard a strange sound that I thought might be a black bear vocalizing – they don’t hiberate in Florida, where they can find food year-round, and I’ve seen their droppings along the trail – so I backed off and shouted ‘bad dog’ and clacked my hiking poles to scare the beastie away. Without determining its identity, I regained the FT’s orange blazes.

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Rain on and off throughout the afternoon. I brought my sunbrella for this hike, and while I haven’t needed it for the heat, Florida is the first place where I’ve found a sunbrella effective for the rain. It’s hot so you don’t want many rain clothes, there hasn’t been much wind, and the weather does this thing where the sky is innocently blue with sporadic white clouds but every cloud passing overhead rains on you. Wearing rain clothes would require constantly putting them on and taking them off, as opposed to an umbrella that’s easy to take out and stow away throughout intermittent rain.

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For the first time I saw other people, two men passing in a swamp buggy along a swamp buggy road. They asked whether I needed anything, but I was doing fine with my umbrella bobbing cheerily overhead.

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I random camped just before the big cypress strand, which will require around seven miles of wading broken by a few islands to rest on. For company at supper I had butterflies and a variety of birds, including a downy woodpecker, cardinals, a brown version of a cardinal (?), and warblers (?). After I got into my sleeping bag, something small hit the bathtub floor by my waist hard, then tried again halfway down my legs and hit hard again before leaving. Rodent? Snake?

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