Today was a loooong day on my mission to reach River Ranch. I got up early to shuttle Late Start past a bad detour that required highway walking, then took Moon Shadow to the rental car office to pick up a car. Her knee just isn’t getting better, so she’s going to her sister’s for a few weeks and seeing a doctor there.
Moon Shadow then followed me up to Yeehaw Junction (love that name!), where I dropped my car. She then shuttled me back to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, where I ended yesterday and needed to start today. So a lot of shuttling going on, but that’s part of long-distance hiking.
I started hiking at 9:45 a.m. It was already warm, and the forecast was for a high in the mid-80s. The first part was through very similar prairie lands to those I’d seen yesterday. I have to say, it was pretty cool. Here in Wisconsin we have prairie, but it’s rolling prairie. Florida is flat, and so you could look out over vast sections of the prairie. The skies here also have a lot of interesting clouds, so the overall scene was quite appealing.
Water Crossings En Route to River Ranch
There were two water crossings today, one ankle-deep and one calf-deep. I ran into three trail volunteers, Nails, Minute and Dirty Dog. They were re-blazing portions of the trail. Nails and Dirty Dog had done the Camino, so we talked about that for a bit.
The famous lock crossing was today. Hikers must notify the government when they plan to cross the lock at least a week beforehand to ensure a lock master is available. I got to the lock and pressed some air horn, per the instructions, and then Missy the lock mistress walked over. She unlocked the gate and let me through, then asked if I wanted cold water, bandages, etc. How nice! I took some cold water. Then she walked me across the actual lock, which entailed unlocking a lot of small gates. You exit the lock into a large cattle pasture, so once again you need to keep an eye out for cow pies.
From here there was a beautiful, long walk that alternated between crushed gravel paths and little dips in and out of the woods, palmetto, etc. It was quite scenic, although the heat made it tiring. I got to see my first armadillo, which was fun.
Strange AirBnB Experience
At the end of the day, I was trying to reach my Air BnB hostess, Dee. She was supposed to pick me up at River Ranch and shuttle me back to my car in Yeehaw Junction before heading to her home, where I reserved a room. But Dee got everything mixed up. She thought I was coming tomorrow, for one thing, plus she was running nearly an hour behind.
Being an hour behind was concerning, because I was soaked with sweat and now getting chilled as the temperatures began dropping with the sun. I didn’t want to wait another hour for her. Luckily, I ran into Minute and Dirty Dog, who were going to pick up a vehicle and then head home – right past Yeehaw Junction! So they gave me a lift. Trail folks are so nice!