En route to Royal Trails today, I decided long-distance hiking is trying to teach me a lesson: patience. Every day, something seems to go wrong. But every time something goes awry, I’m less shaken or annoyed by it than I would have been a year or two or three ago. In the grand scheme of life, if my rental car gets locked in a county park or I accidentally hike 26 miles instead of 24, is that really such a big deal?
So guess what happened to me today? My schedule called for hiking from Soldiers Creek Park to Royal Trails, a total of 24.3 miles. The weather was pretty intense again today – highs in the low 90s with lots of sun. I couldn’t find a shuttle or cab that could bring me from one end of the trail to the other, so I had a dilemma. But then the answer seemed easy. The first half of the hike was along a recreational trail and roads, while the last half was trails. I’d park at the trailhead where the second half of the hike began, then hike out and back. That way I’d hike the same mileage, and hike every trail mile (the important stuff).
Headed for Royal Trails
But I did the math the previous night, when I was tired. Today, I determined that my out-and-back hike on the Florida Trail was three miles short of the road walk I was skipping, so I decided to hike three more miles on side trails so I’d get the exact same mileage. Perfect!
And so I began my day. There was a huge search-and-rescue training going on at the trailhead at Lower Wekiva, so it was hard to find a parking spot. About three hours into my hike, I ran into Lou, Betty and Yvonne, hikers from the Florida Hiking Syndicate Facebook page. It was so nice to have hiking buddies! We hiked together for about an hour. They were ending at the Cassia trailhead, while I was continuing on to Royal Trails, then turning around and repeating the hike with some extra loops to get in the required mileage.
After hiking on a side trail, the timing seemed to be off. I figured I’d finish after 7 p.m., which seemed quite late, despite my slower pace in the heat. I re-calculated the mileage and discovered I’d erred. It’s too convoluted to explain, but suffice it to say I over-hiked today by two or three miles. But, as Beerman says, all good!