THURSDAY NOV 22 – THANKSGIVING! I decide upon a 7.4-mile yo-yo from the Marina RV Park in Moore Haven to the S-5 water control structure near SR 78 and back again on the Moore Haven coast. And I enjoy the most awesome experience I’ve ever had on a Florida hike: savoring a spectacular sunrise by myself.
Now this section of the Florida Trail is noted for its sunrises. But it just so happens that the morning was foggy as well, and I was walking in an area with extensive prairies where the tops of cabbage palms rose from the fog. Tendrils of fog licked the dike, snaking across into the sugar cane fields as if Lake Okeechobee had evaporated overnight and moved inland to replenish the fields. Eerie silhouettes of palm trees rose out of the fog, their fronded tops cut off from the rest of the body. The sun painted the fog with pale pink and rich gold, reflected in the skies above. A snow-white owl swooped over my head.
I felt honored, and humbled, that this display of light and color and mist was just for me at this very moment, and I spent nearly an hour along this stretch of trail, capturing texture and detail with my camera: palms cloaked in mist, outlined against a painted sky; a monarch butterfly with wings not yet unfolded, set against a backdrop of sugar cane. And I had it all to myself, even as I walked to the north, for nearly two hours, until the first hikers arrived – first Ron, the AT hiker with the Aussie accent, who commented on my “totally relaxed” hiking stride he could see in the distance, then clumps of twos and threes of friends passing by until I reached my goal, the railing above the S-5 and the backpacker’s campsite, where Phyllis and Cliff and others arrived as I did.
My relaxed pace was infectious. As I walked with the small group, we stopped and took time for naps on the grass, and strode back to the RV park at an easy pace, ‘Be Here Now.’