Day 3 of the Big O Hike has been 3-squared for the past nine years. Three 3 mile segments (roughly) broken up by access points to the dike. Pulling towards Taylor Creek – location of the Battle of Okeechobee, the creek named for Zachary Taylor, hunter of Seminoles and later President of the United States, just like Andrew Jackson, and yet no memorial for the stealthy and victorious Seminole warriors. Soon, I suspect, that will be corrected with the opening of a new Florida State Park in honor of the battleground. A massive monument that sat along US 441 in front of the now demolished Old Habits bar, a monument about the battle placed at that spot more than 70 years ago, was just recently moved, with great effort, to the new state park site.
Okeechobee’s history runs deep. Today’s walk slips past many ghosts, of fish camps and fish canneries, an early Florida toll road and more shoreline where the lake waters once lapped. Cabins where the workers who put the dike in place lived. And memories of dear departed hiker friends who no longer walk this way with us.
Dozens of anglers at the locks. Otters in the Rim Canal. Colorful sprays of wildflowers. The rhythm of walking and talking, of quiet and birdsong. We were done today before the rains came, scattering rainbows and puddles across the campground.