Being very tired and out of shape and dehydrated my logic went like this: On the map, it looked like it would be only slightly longer for me to take the trail versus the road. Assuming the trail was similar to the earlier part of the trail, I’d not only have a lot of shade and refreshing, cool water to pedal through, I’d also have more energy and adrenaline. I was about two hours into the trip at this point and felt pretty good about the decision at the time even though I was out of water.
This ended up being the wrong choice and that was made clear very early into the return leg. However, it only became clear after what felt like the point of no return.
Parts of this trail were so over grown that I was widening the trail with every down stroke. Other parts of the trail were under about 15 inches of water. The one consistent part of the trail was that it gave only the hope of shade and never the reality of shade. The trees looked dense from a distance, however they were actually spread out and thin – it was just as disappointing as a desert mirage.
Maybe one of the most dangerous parts of the predicament I jumped into was second guessing myself. Early in this leg of the journey I began seriously scrutinizing the integrity of the tri-fold brochure map. According to the waste of paper, I was suppose to hit the corner of the park pretty much right away and follow the border north a few clicks then veer slightly East, away from the border for a few humps before arriving at my car. That did not happen. The trail went dead West until it met the fence bordering Forever Florida.
There was a little bridge to get over the barb wire and it was clearly marked that the Florida Trail was now entering private property. Another quick look at the insulting tri-fold confirmed what I already knew – my path was the new blazes I saw heading North along what looked like an AVT trail that was recently gone over with a rototiller. I ignored one thought in my head, which I cannot understand why a smart guy like me would ignore – “Go to Forever Florida and get some water.” I probably ignored that idea because according to the map, I was about a third of the way there. One hour max and I’ll be in my car with my water bottle.
I struggle along this ridiculous path for a very long way. It was the type of trail where you could not see it turn. It seemed to go indefinitely ducking only under the curvature of the earth. It got to the point where I could not take the struggle any longer. So I threw my bike over the barbed wire fence onto the Forever Florida side of the border and rode peacefully on their well-manicured border road. Oh did I forget to mention, this whole time the private property had a strong, strapping, smooth twin to my bumpy, overgrown, runt road?