Saturday, January 7, 2012
KEYS OVERLAND HERITAGE TRAIL
AFTER a plane flight to Miami, a bus ride to Key West, and a taxi to Southern Most, I arrived at the much antisipated Southern Most spot in the lower 48 states. I did not go into town nor stick around long. There was a long line in front of the Monument, to take pictures. Tired and eager to find a good place to camp I took a couple of quick shots and moved on.
Not even a mile went by, when I passed the Youth Hostel. If I had it to do over with, I would have went there, and into town for dinner. I would of then situated myself in better camps, in the days to come.
Anyways I soon found myself skirting the beach, for in which I got a great shot of a large sailboat in the sunset. There were lots of tourist out looking about, some on foot others were on scooters and bicycles.
I walked well into the dark, finding myself on surface streets, and crossing a bridge to the next island. Next to a radio tower side road, I found a clearing in some bushes, where I made a stealth camp, and took a nap. I did not sleep long though, when I sensed a uneasiness in the atmosphere. The clouds were building, so I jumped to stuff by bedroll into my pack and get back on the bike path. Exiting the bushes like a bum, I walked right out in front of a cop, too busy eating, he did not notice my exit from my illegal camp. It soon began to rain, but under a poncho I just walked until it stopped. Soon I was under clear sky's and found a spot to finish my sleep right in middle of a long pedestrian bridge, on a nice bench. I was tired enough to care less about my new impersonation of the homeless.
Woken up by the sounds of a joggers footsteps, I rose to a beautiful sunrise. I quickly suffer my sack and began a long day of sight seeing. The morning was awesome, and it was not long before I was eating in a small roadside dinner. I then spent the rest of the day pacing out 42 miles. I would go from park bench to park bench, resting and elevating my feet. I would also go from liquor store to liquor store, eating light and drinking gatorades, and energy drinks. I found if I drank 1 Monster and a couple of Advil, the foot pains would soon be forgotten and another 8-12 miles would go by. For the entire trip, I played with this combination. Sometimes 2 Monsters, and sometimes 3 Advil, But like all drugs, eventually they lose that original boost. So I eventually quit my toxic invention.
The pains in my feet were really beginning to ache. Advil only went so far, but walking barefoot in grass and smooth side walks, felt great . I also would soak them in the salt water, and walk on the sand a while.
I found myself in front of the 7 mile bridge just before dark, once starting I had to push it out to the end. The bridge was long, but I pushed it out fast, knowing food and camp were on the other side. Nearing the half way point the feet were really aching, and the now constant downhill pavement was not helping. I tried to focus on the wonderful light show, but the last couple of miles turned out to be a death march. Upon reaching the other side I aimed my weary feet for a pair of Golden Arches, where I had a couple of burgers and a shake. I hung out charging my phone and camera, and cleaning up in their bathroom. I found a nice place to have another stealth camp, in some trees next to an old Harbor.
ONE of the highlights that 1st day was actually seeing up close, the very rare Keys Deer. I also saw 3 very large iguanas, and many birds that are unknown to me. The water was warm, and the weather was perfect!
The following day was a repeat of the 1st. Nice weather, lots of reasons to stop and sore feet from all the concrete. I did however do another 42 miles and found myself near the 91 mile marker that night when I found a trailer to sleep in. The highlight of this day though, was the great beach walks, swimming, and long bike path separated from the road. The path had side trails to beaches and campgrounds.
The 3rd morning, meant I was just about to exit Key Largo and start a long road walk to the beginning of the Florida Trail. And at Mile 106, I left the keys and started walking highway 1.
The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail was Unique hike. If I was to ever return to the keys, I would tour it on bicycle, and spend about 5 days. I would like to kayak the mangroves, and snorkel on some of the reefs. There are also many things to take in, such as museums, and educational exhibits. But most importantly it would be easier to find campgrounds and such to make better camp. Staying in hotels is also an option, but very expensive.
Posted by Joe Kisner at 4:15 PM