The thought was to start hiking early every day to avoid the worst heat. Except Sunday night I had only gotten 2 hours of sleep in order to make my flights, so I really needed to sleep in. So 10-Miler and I didn’t hit the trail until just before 9 a.m.

The morning hiking was gorgeous. I was in the Forever Florida land, so much of the hiking was on wide roads used by the group’s tourist vehicles. Some areas got pretty sandy, but every time I was getting annoyed by slogging through the sand the land changed and the footing was firmer.

I met an employee of Forever Florida at one point. He said this was the driest spring in Florida since the 1800s. Normally the area I was walking on would have many puddles and my feet would definitely be wet, he said. Also, there would normally be a field of yellow Bachelor’s Buttons now, but the drought left them unable to bloom.

Sometime around noon until maybe 3 p.m., the trail got a lot scruffier. This was after leaving the Forever Florida territory. Some areas had had prescribed burns, others were just scruffy. One area was very sandy, and you couldn’t make out the trail. Everything and nothing looked like trail. So I had to hike blaze-to-blaze. Another area was filled with dead palmettos, which made surprisingly tough footing. I tripped on a lot of them.

10-Miler met me with about 3 miles left to go. She was really struggling with the heat. We both ran out of water, despite having packed a lot.

Back at her truck, I jogged the remaining 5.3 road miles left. It was a hot day, for sure. But once again there was enough wind and low humidity, so it wasn’t that awful. And — YAY! — no ticks again!

Judy and I are staying at a motel in Melbourne. La Quinta. It’s very nice.

©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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