I’m baaaack! Caught an early flight from O’Hare and got to Prairie Lakes Station by 3:15-ish in the afternoon. But I didn’t actually get going for another 30 minutes because I was trying to reach someone who could tell me if the gate to this parking spot would be closed at night or not. I knew I wouldn’t be shuttled back here until 8 p.m. or so, and I definitely didn’t want to get barred from my rental car and suitcase. I called the numbers on the Florida Trail maps, but I kept getting transferred to different groups because no one knew. Finally some guy drove up pulling a boat; I asked him and he said the gate was always left open. Case closed.

So I started hiking where I left off in January. If some of you recall, I skipped a week-long section around Orlando when I returned in March, because my husband was supposed to have a conference in Orlando now. The thought was I’d hike all day and stay with him at night. But he was pulled from this conference in lieu of his boss, and I’d already bought my plane ticket. So here I was.

The day was sunny and warm (86), but luckily low humidity and windy. So I had a great time hiking through more palmetto-and-pine woods. My Florida hiking pal, 10-Miler (Judy), met me where the trail dumped me onto Highway 441. It was pretty late by then, so I tossed my pack and trekking poles into her truck and jogged the last 2.7 miles up to Forever Florida.

Oh — I’d heard from some people that it’s tick and chigger season here. I’m deathly afraid of ticks, so for the first time I used Permethrin on my clothes and backpack. But this little piece of trail didn’t seem to have any bugs, so one day down, six to go!

©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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