Back in camp on Day 3 of the Panhandle Trace Hike, we met up with Gail and Sally. Since we had to move Primrose to our next campsite – and we had to kill time, since someone was still occupying it – we a took detour to the Harold Store. En route I realized that they were our first guests in Primrose! When I picked up Bogey & Bacall along the Florida Trail, Sandy wasn’t with me on that trip.
Blackwater River State Park isn’t close to much of anything, especially places to eat. The Harold Store is right on 90 where you make the turn toward the park entrance. FT thru-hikers have been stopping here for years.
The sign out front said wings and pizza, and we were hungry. As we were walking into the store, we spotted a picnic table nearby where we could enjoy our meal and watch the locals go by.
Once we had pizza and drinks in hand, we headed for the table, finding a bearded fellow stretched out on one of the benches. As we approached, I called out, asking if he’d mind sharing the table.
When he sat up, I wasn’t sure if we were invading his space or not. This might be his regular afternoon napping spot. Even though I’m looking more and more like a homeless guy, I’m still not sure of the sleeping on a bench protocol.
Sandy quickly said, “Are you a hiker?” “Yep, I sure am, I’m Blackwater Ray,” he replied. He was the local trail maintainer. Later, Sandy would admit to me that Peggy had given her Ray’s description, so it was an educated guess.
We enjoyed our pizza and had a great time talking to Blackwater Ray, learning about the trials and challenges of trying to maintain a trail in an area with frequent prescribed burns and clearcuts. Ray made plans to join the hike the next day.