Day 11, Leg 3:
Slept fine, temps dropped but never really noticed. Moving before daylight to make road crossing before traffic picks up. Four lane divided highway, which stays busy year round. Probably the most exposed I have been on entire trip, even with road miles. Once I clear it, have about 30 miles overland and two deep creek crossings before reaching my BO location.
Feel worse than yesterday, throat still sore and tight in my chest. Will see if it loosens up over the course of ten miles, if not, may go ahead and start on antibiotics. Peppermint helps, but need to include some throat lozenges or cough drops.
Stop by potable water point on way to top water off.
Cross highway without incident. Only saw one vehicle and do not think they saw me. Break about two miles off highway by small creek. Ate a Datrex but think some oatmeal and coffee might help me feel better. Collect and boil water, make oatmeal and coffee (some granulated honey would be good in both) – use remaining water to wipe off. Think I might have slight fever, so take some ibuprofen and antibiotic pill. GPS creek as potential cache location and head out.
Pretty easy overland movement and reasonably flat. Make good time to first deep creek. Plan was to swim creek, which isn’t moving fast but is over ten feet deep. With temp and way I feel, I am afraid swimming it may be a bad idea. Check water temp and it is cold, not ice cold but still… Break out map and see how many miles it adds to go to bridge crossing paralleling the creek. Ten miles to closest bridge crossing, then will add another ten miles to skirt around an “off limits” area that I had accounted for in my original plan, so twenty miles, maybe twenty-five total additional miles. I opt for additional miles and an additional day over two creeks. Will come back by boat on both creeks to scout crossings. Mark potential cache site and move.
Paralleling creek has its advantages, more game trails for certain but water close by at all times. Study map during break for campsite before road, close enough to cross bridge early but far enough away to be undisturbed. Drink plenty of water during break and choke down a Datrex. Keep moving.
Found ideal campsite along creek, GPSd and marked on map. Beat does not describe the way I feel – covered seventeen miles at least. Temp continuing to drop and wind is blowing crazy hard – sun is shining though. Set up camp, eat a part of an MRE and crash.
Day 12, Leg 3:
Broke a sweat during night, must have run or still running fever. Much colder this morning! Grab water from creek, boil water in kettle and use last pack of oatmeal on top. Coffee is a life saver. Use warm water to wipe off and take my time packing up. Wanted to cross bridge before daylight but my energy level is way down. Take pain, reliever, vitamins, and antibiotics. Mix an electrolyte packet in canteen and drink it all before rucking up.
Paralleled road to bridge, underbrush is thick so it obscures my movement from passing cars. Small road but it is busy. Cross bridge without incident and head back into the woods. Have to angle north to skirt edge of a “secure facility” that I would have bypassed by crossing creeks. Real PIA, in real scenario, would cross facility boundary and cut through it but don’t feel like going to jail today.
Just one foot in front of another since this part of the route would not be utilized. Need to make north edge of facility today in order to stay close to schedule. Sweating a lot even though it is cold and wind blowing.
Finally make north edge of facility. Saw a black bear and several deer along route. Luckily, bear was headed away from my direction of travel. Set up hammock – been a lifesaver. No longer paralleling creek so have to find water source. Find small intermittent stream that is flowing – takes while to fill kettle up, dipping and pouring, dipping and pouring… Eat remainder of MRE, change t-shirt and socks. Hit hammock and think how bad the suck would be if there was no end in sight.
Day 13, Leg 3:
Wind blowing super hard but it has warmed up. Something blew over about 0400 and the crash woke me up. Feel a little better, eat Datrex. No coffee because not hiking back to stream to fill kettle. Will make second stream crossing location early and camp there tonight, get some more rest.
Another day of one foot in front of other, should intersect original path soon. Start paying more attention to my surroundings but nothing but clear cut, palmetto, and pine. Found an abandoned cutter head, must have been left by loggers long time ago. Think about possibility of scavenging off of it but the tools I have in my pack wouldn’t touch many of the bolts.
Uneventful to creek. My feeling better, has gotten progressively worse. This creek is bigger and deeper, moving faster than previous creek, so opt not to swim. Will not add much additional distance by paralleling creek to bridge crossing. Don’t want to drown or cold get worse. Set up hammock and way clouds look better plan for rain so set up poncho over top. Feel weak, so take nap.
Still have 3 hours daylight left. Scout around campsite and GPS potential cache coordinates. Study creek and ponder possibility of caching a pack raft for crossing. Could rope bridge family across fairly easily and everyone stay reasonably dry. The possibilities. Definitely would want to end trip as soon as possible with wife and kids in tow. Collect and boil water – seems like a constant job. Beans and rice for dinner. Try a little water bottle fishing before dark to no avail – water moving fast. Turn in for night.
Day 14, Leg 3:
0300 and it is RAINING! Call it a “frog strangler” here. I am dry but know I will be wet when I start to move. Hope it does not continue like this or the last full day on this trip is going to be a rough one. Have developed a cough but stuff is breaking loose, which is a good sign but annoying. Gonna lay here awhile longer and enjoy dry for a little while.
Got to get moving and rain slacked off but wind is blowing crazy. Choke down two Datrex and some water. Hit trail paralleling creek, generally a popular hiking trail in spring but have yet to see a soul. Creek has sharper turns further south I go, so leave trail head cross country and pick trail up again. Rain had picked back up and it is flooding now. Last night will be miserable if this keeps up.
Find spot for a break, rain still coming in sheets. No way I can push through and make it before dark. Footing isn’t too bad but limited visibility plus rain plus sick/weak equals spending one more night. If it wasn’t March, I would swear this is a tropical storm.
Head down, putting one foot in front of other. Conditions like this is when you walk up on someone or something without even knowing it. Not certain I would even be attempting to move with family at this point.
Reach campsite two miles off road/bridge crossing. Rain slacked to a mist. Gather, strain, and chemically treat water – don’t think I could get a fire going with 5 gallons gas. Set up hammock with poncho drape, eat MRE, change t-shirt and put fleece pants on. I know I will not sleep much tonight.
Day 15, Leg 3:
Started raining heavy again around midnight. Wind isn’t blowing as bad but there is more lightning in this system. Doesn’t make me feel too good in nylon hammock strapped to pine trees. Oh well…
Rain quit and I can see sun peeking through. Cool but not unbearable. Put wet shirt and pants back on. Ugh, not a much worse feeling. Still coughing but taking meds and staying hydrated. Datrex again – I may never eat another unless SHTF. Gonna have to keep myself from running or quick walking. Think I have done well setting pace family could keep.
Pack up and head for bridge. Traffic not heavy but this crossing is more wide open than last. Cross without incident, skirt back into the woods. Plan is to approach BO location from south, observe, skirt west, observe, skirt north, observe, and then approach from the east. The east is the point I can get closest without being observed. My mind is starting to drift to what I will eat tonight.
Observation from south, nothing. Skirt wide west going back toward creek. Observation from west – wife’s car is there, which was not part of plan – guess she was going to surprise me. Want to just breakout and go there now. Skirt wide north. Observation from north, does not appear anyone is up in the cabin yet or they are not moving around. Skirt wide east. Get within 25 meters of cabin. I hear someone walking across floor, so someone is up!
Break out of wood line, kids come pouring out of cabin. Son informs me I am “rotten”…. And daughter says they have been up looking for me since daylight… Wife points to outdoor shower which ain’t happening…
More to follow….