Jan. 14, 2017
Moon Shadow dropped me off this morning at Indian Prairie Canal (I picked up a rental car last night) and I continued on the levees for about 10 miles. At 9:30 a.m. I ran into four people and two air boats up on the levee. What the heck?! Turns out they were boating for the day and taking a break. The air boat propellers can push the boats up on land, and there's a protective coating underneath so the hulls don't get ruined. So they were just chilling out on the levee (and drinking beer already!).
The levee trail ends at Buckhead Ridge and is supposed to continue along another levee. But it's under construction and there's a road-walk detour. The detour is 6 miles longer than the real trail, so I had Moon Shadow shuttle me up the road 6 miles. It was dangerous highway walking anyway.
Six miles up the road put me in the middle of Okeechobee. There are a lot of Snowbirds here, as there probably are in most parts of Florida, and they're easy to spot. I ran into a bunch of them when I stopped in at Dairy Queen for a cone.
I didn't mind walking through the town at all, but the detour then takes you 7 miles west along Highway 70 before rejoining the trail. Well, Highway 70 was a nightmare. The speed limit is 60 mph and the traffic was consistently going way over that. In addition people were passing recklessly and the traffic was incessant. I counted for a mile and there were one to 10 cars passing me every 5 seconds. The longest break between cars whizzing by was 30 seconds. One guy purposely drove right down the white line at me, and many people waved at me to get off the road. This should not be a detour route! I did have one nice couple stop and ask if they could give me a ride. The woman had done the AT before and recognized me as a distance hiker. They pulled over when I only had a half-mile left of the highway, so I thanked them but passed. It was sure nice of them, though.
Once I got off Highway 70 things were fine. I was on another road route for the final miles of the day, but at least few cars were on the road and it was peaceful. This was a day I'm glad to put behind me.