Sunday, January 10, 2016

The long road to the Suwannee River

"Key West or Bust" - Day 84

I'm back on the trail after spending a late Holiday break visiting family in MD.  My son just got back from eight months working in Malaysia and my daughter returned from three months in Europe on Dec. 29th.  The reunion included my parents, both 92.  Needless to say it was *so* good to see them, and it ended all too soon.

It was tough leaving them.  My son's job takes him all over the world--he chose that job for just that reason.  Who knows when I'll see him again.

But it was not tough leaving the below zero wind chills and returning to temperatures in the low 60's in Madison, Florida.  It's why I'm here.  Hiking Florida is best done this time of year.

And so I'm back on the trail.  (Didn't I already say that?) Today's hike was mostly just a road walk grind--finishing the 45 miles of highway and country roads between the Aucilla River and the Suwannee River.  I continue to see flowers blooming here in January--a result of the warm fall weather.  Here's the bluejacket spiderwort - a roadside staple - making a fine display.

I saw this common yellow with thick, leathery, oak-like leaves - spent a long time trying to identify it without success - help, anyone?

And there was a baseball-sized puff-ball mushroom bursting at the seams.  At first I thought it was an actual baseball.

At the end of the day I had made it to the Suwannee, and after 15 miles of hiking my weary legs had the pleasure of tracking along the banks of that big black-water river.

After hiking rivers with many different personalities, I was looking forward to something unique from the Suwannee.  I guess I got it.  It's big.  It's far bigger than the other rivers the Florida Trail has passed north and west of here.  In fact the lower part of the river--in the Mill Creek North Tract of Twin Rivers State Forest--seems too big to have much personality.  It just flows along under the open sky.  Live oaks reach out over it as they do all rivers in the south, but they can't hope to envelop it.  Cypresses are found along its shores, but none with great size and character.  Weathered limestone lines its banks, but that's been true of several other rivers in this area.  So the only distinctive feature was its vast size, with that ponderous current - no more then one mile per hour - carrying the secrets of the Okefenokee Swamp silently toward the Gulf of Mexico.

I had a mile beside the river at most, and then I was done.  It's good to be back on real trail again, and there will be much more of the Suwannee and its tributaries to discover.

Below is a map of the route, with links to a few more photos.

Madison FL to the Suwannee River at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find trail maps for California and beyond


  1. Hi PJ
    I've been following your long journey and it inspires me to do one of my own (although not nearly as long as your). After taking a closer look at you GPS tracks it appear your days seem to begin and end at trail heads on roads. Just wondering if you overnight in a tent on trail or opt for better accommodations off trail? Thanks, and keep on trekking!

    1. Hey Dan - thanks for your interest and for the kind words. I do end each day's hike at a road access point because I'm supporting myself with two vehicles--one at either end of a section of trail. Overnight I either sleep in my van or get a motel room.

      Good luck with your own long trek. See you on the trail!