Wow, what a last day making my way to Ft. Pickens, the northern terminus of the Florida Trail! I thought I had about 22 miles to the finish, but it ended up being more like 28 or so.

This morning, I drove my car to that same parking lot from last night and headed out. It was freezing, so I had my rain pants over my shorts and had on a headband and gloves. My hood was pulled up, and I walked the first several miles with my trekking poles tucked under one arm so I could shove both hands into my pockets. I only had a thin pair of gloves, and I have Reynaud’s Syndrome, so I needed a lot of help to keep them warm. But it sure made for awkward walking.

Heading to Ft. Pickens

The trail starts off on a bike path, and then leads you onto the beach and dunes. This area was difficult to navigate. There were very few trail markers, so you had to try to figure out the easiest path to walk, which isn’t easy on sand. And sometimes in the dunes section, the grasses and tough vegetation stymied my progress. So I got behind schedule. But the white sand beach was beautiful, and I saw a lot of cool birds.

After the sand, the trail goes through Pensacola Beach. Somewhere in there I saw a funny sight. Someone has a boxy vacation home with what appears to be a spaceship on the roof! There’s a little green alien figure peering out the front door, while two skeleton-like faces are peeking out of one of the spaceship’s rounded windows. Check it out in the photo slideshow that accompanies this entry.

The trail crosses the road and heads toward Ft. Pickens and the northern terminus marker when there are about two miles left. I saw Nancy driving up, en route to pick me up at the finish, as I crossed the road. She encouraged me onward. It seemed to take forever to reach the terminus, but I DID IT!

Thru-Hike Success!

Nancy took photos of me at the terminus marker, and then we headed out. I was exhausted, but didn’t get back to my motel for 90 minutes. First was a 30-minute drive back to my car, and then I basically had to drive my rental car back the exact same way we’d just come (and then some) to get to my motel. But it was worth it.

Can’t believe I’m finished. This was a fantastic experience and I’d encourage everyone to give this trail a try. It’s beautiful, goes through many different environments and has some of the best trail angels around. And, thanks to the Florida Trail, I am now officially Snowshoe!

Now, on to the next adventure!


©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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