March 22, 2017
I had a wonderful morning heading out from Pat's Island. There was a 7-mile stretch around Hopkins Prairie that was just breathtaking. The more I hike our National Scenic Trails, the more I fall in love with prairies. The light was hitting the plants just right, and it made this amazing golden glow.
BEAR! Shortly after exiting the prairie, I turned a corner on the trail and saw a black bear not more than 50 feet away. I was startled and so was he/she, and thank goodness the bear promptly crashed back into the woods. That's the closest I've been to a black bear in the wild.
Things began to heat up in the afternoon, so I made sure to stop at the 88 Store, a recommended pit stop in the FT guidebook. Great move! I bought an ice-cold beer and an ice cream sandwich, then enjoyed both with a group of men sitting out on the porch. One of them said it was 87 out. Yikes!
A woman was out there with her toddler, who was trying to "shoot" everyone with his plastic rifle. As I was getting ready to leave, I heard the mom saying, "Just ask her. Just ask her." I turned around, but the little boy was too shy to ask me anything. So the mom said her son wanted to know if I had a rifle on me, too. What?! Turns out he saw my new hiker sun umbrella, which was in a black sheath, and thought it was a gun. Ha!
I used that umbrella quite a bit today, as it was so warm.
I ran into Judy Kirkwood, aka Ten-Miler, at Lake Delancy Campground. She drove all the way up from Boca Raton to join me for a few days. I had two more miles to go to finish my day, so she drove up ahead to meet me where the trail crossed a dirt fire road. Except she only had a partial map and ... we were separated for more than an hour, as I didn't have cell service at this dirt road, and had to hike back (and hitch a ride) to Lake Delancy, where I had one bar.
But, as always, a fantastic day on the trail.