After our wonderful reception at the I-75 rest area, several hikers decided to backtrack a bit and camp. I decided to push on and try for a few more miles. I was rested and filled with good food.
It wasn’t long after I made it through the north I-75 gate to Nobles Road that the dark skies let loose. I quickly threw on the pack cover and walked into the now-pouring rain.
Seeing lighter skies ahead, I picked up the pace and moved forward. After walking out of the rain, I started realizing that I hadn’t seen a blaze in some time.
I had such a good time at the I-75 rest area, that I forgot to pick up the next page of our trail-guide-in-progress. Without it, or any map, I wasn’t sure where the trail turned off. Worrying that I may have missed a blaze, I began to panic. I called Sandy and misunderstood what she told me.
Walking back into the rain, I headed back toward the interstate. As the sun began to set, and the dark clouds got darker, it was time to break out the headlamp.
Back at the I-75 gate, I started north again, this time paying much better attention to the blazes. With a break in the rain showers, I quickly threw up my tent along the road. The guy line of the tent went into the middle of the road. I had to use two stakes with the hard packed ground.
I left the pack cover and tent trash bag outside. Everything else but my boots went inside. When I opened the lower section of my pack to retrieve my sleeping bag water came pouring out, flooding the tent floor.
My inflated Thermarest was the only thing keeping me out of the water. Not being able to bear the idea of soaking my down bag in this mess, I opted to sleep covered only by the rain jacket.
After a cold and restless night, I woke at 4 AM. Cold and shivering, I decided to warm up by hiking. It rained most of the night and Nobles Road was partly under water.
So begins another day of hiking, another trail first for me: an early morning by headlamp. The dew was so heavy that I could see it floating in the air. Every few paces I was using my fingers like windshield wipers on my eyeglasses.
The orange blazes of the FT weren’t easy to see, but the reflective FNST signs glowed nicely. Thank goodness. With each step, I realized more and more just how little hiking experience I feel I have, and how out of place I felt being alone on the trail after dark.
Just before dawn I caught up with the faster hikers, who had camped at the Nobles home site near the airstrip. They were just packing up as went. It didn’t take them long to speed by me.