Ocean To Lake Trail Thru Hike, Florida February 17-21 2016

I was invited somewhat out of the blue, but very appreciatively by Matt at ZPacks to come hike with them on a section of the Florida Trail system call the Ocean to Lake trail. This trail runs about 63 miles from Lake Okochobee to the Atlantic Ocean at Hobe Sound on Jupiter Island Florida. Now Florida is one place I have never hiked. Probably because my impression was the same as most, flat and hot.

After flying into Orlando Airport, I was picked up by Steve, who was coming down from his new home in Georgia, and we drove the extra 90 minutes to Melbourne Florida the business location for Zpacks. We met the crew and chatted about gear and life and then left for the two hour drive over to Hobe Sound (the end of our trip) to drop off the cars, where they would sit for a few days. A shuttle had been arranged to take us about two hours back to the start of our hike
 We arrived very late at the campsite and set up quickly and got to sleep.
The walking part of our hike started right next to Lake Okeechobee at Lost Nena Trailhead

The Ocean to Lake Trail officially begins/ends here.
Day 1

 The beginning is quite pretty in a lush forest of palms

It soon breaks out into a bit of a road walk, although hardly used, for a few miles

Lovely scenery 

Then onto some burns along a canal

Then into the water. This would be the theme of this trip as about 58 of the 63 miles of this trip would be walking in ankle to almost waist deep water.

A little mid-morning break at a campsite with lovely views
 Then back to the water and mud

The day ended after 15 miles on a dry section of burn next to a canal. 
 Camp view

dinner and conversation

after dinner it was a lovely night to be camping

Day 2 was more good weather. Crossing over a land bridge of the canal we camped at the night before
 long view crossing under big power lines

Back into the water. A cypress and palm jungle

Orchids grow out of the trees

The trail isn't land but water. 

 Roads appear but quickly disappear beneath the water.

Deep water.. alligator? 

Why worry about a bridge at this point.... :-)

small wildflowers are noticeable everywhere

A little rest mid day

Now seriously, there has to be an alligator in here somewhere. 

End of Day 2 and 17 miles at a Boy Scout camp in the middle of nowhere! 

We hid out in the trees, trying to stealth camp on the Boy Scout property. Evening 2 was full of mosquitoes so not much going on after setting up if you didn't want to get eaten alive
 Up and out early for Day 3 along the only road coming into the BoyScout camp

Back into another conservation area
 Long lily pond

More boardwalks 
 Plenty of mud today

More boardwalks

 Swamp surrounded by boardwalk (see it on the right)

Over the bridge and late for a rest

Back into the water after lunch

out of the water and a long walk along a canal into a very nice park with trails

 Grove Nature area

Nice dry paths for a few miles

We needed to go under and then along a highway
 Bu the reward was Pizza... It had been the topic of conversation for most all day

Huge amounts of pizza was ordered, but then no one was hungry! 2 slices maybe and we took a couple more with us to our campsite just a short distance away. For a road side plaza pizza shop it was excellent. 

 Night 3 was by a really pretty flowing river.

17 miles more today and a great night sleep under a giant palm
 Day 4
Diverse hiking today:


Burned areas

 Sand dunes


Neighborhood paths

over the bridge
 Into our original parking lot

 and after 63 miles...down to the ocean and finished

Afterward post hike Mexican food.

This hike was really fun with some great people. It however was not too good for my feet, I limped in the last five miles and leaves me with more questions about my hiking future. In addition to just the damage to my feet, which I have always had problems with the callouses on the bottom of my feet. I strained the flexor tendons in the front of my right ankle with the repetitive nature of pushing water all day.
I am not sure how this will effect my TGO plans at this point.


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