Florida Trail – Stage 7 – Okeechobee West

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sunset over Lake Okeechobee.

Start:  SR 78

Finish:  John Stretch Park

Distance:  55.5 miles (89.3 km)

Time:  1.5 days (January 10-12, 2012)

Daily Average:  37 miles (59.5 km)

Total Distance:  1042.4 miles (1677.2 km)

Highlights:                                                            

  • Sunrise and sunset over Lake Okeechobee.
  • Loads of alligators in the canal paralleling the dyke.
  • After a 40 + mile day into Clewiston, Hungry Howie’s Pizza was a godsend. Combined with a couple of pints of ice cream, hot shower, cable TV and a semi-comfortable bed – what more does a tired and hungry thru-hiker really need? Come to think of it, a jacuzzi and foot massage would have also been nice…………..

Lowlights:

  • Drinking water from the canals. Even when treated or filtered, this stuff is pretty rough. For the Okeechobee section the distances between spigots are short enough, that I would recommend future FT hikers carry what they need from stop to stop.

Notes & Musings:

  • A big thanks to the hiker-friendly staff at Okee-Tantie Recreation Area.
  • This section was virtually all routed alongside canals. Made for easy, but shadeless walking.
  • Upon reaching Clewiston, my plan had been to get cleaned up and then head out for a couple of beers at the Everglades Lounge at the Clewiston Inn. Never eventuated. As soon as I finished my pizza and ice cream, my head hit the pillow and I was down for the count.
  • Audiobooks: Over the past two or three years I have begun listening to audiobooks on some of my walks.  When the hiking  is easy and the navigation straightforward, as it was on the above mentioned Lake Okeechobee stretch (and virtually all of the FT for that matter), I will often turn on my MP3. A great story combined with an engaging narrator can make those occasionally dragging midday hours fly by in an instant. For much of the FT I was listening to War and Peace (the narrator was Neville Jason – I just finished it after some 60 plus hours of listening time!), the paperback version of which had been sitting on my bookshelf at home since my teenage years. Impressions? A wonderful novel which had me riveted from start to finish. The one caveat; even for a history buff such as myself, Tolstoys regular excursions into philosophical and historical analysis could be a little (okay, a lot) drawn out at times.

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