Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Updates from Tatu on the FT

Southern Terminus of Tatu's FT adventure
11/30 @ 3:30PM

The Florida Trail Databook is wrong and has put Tatu back 10 miles.  The databook follows the road mileage which is incorrect.  This mix up has caused Tatu to miss his first mail drop.  It is his last resupply before he starts the Florida Trail proper.  He is currently about 35 miles out from the beginning of the FT.  He thinks he will hit the FT @ noon on 12/2 to start his record attempt.

Tatu has enjoyed the first leg of the walk.  He is looking forward to walking this section through the Florida Keys on the return leg of his journey and hopes to see a bunch of the NOBO’s ( north bound FT hikers).  The pavement walking was brutal though.  First day he laid out a 43, then 42 miles day 2.  Day 2 though he started feeling sore from walking the pavement.  He then laid out a 38 mile day on day 3, but he was definitely hurting at the end of the day.  His fourth day on trail he was able to walk on the shoulder some which helped.

Good night from the Everglades
12/4 9:AM

12/2 12:35 Started the Florida Trail.  He has made it through the worst of the swamps in a day and a half.  He then picked up some more roadwalking.  He had an excellent walk through the swamps and shared them with many snakes.  Coming from the coast of California it was definitely a first for him.  Trudging 9 miles through waist deep water.  Tatu is an older guy and his eyesight isn’t the best any longer.  The orange blazes of the FT aren’t always that visible.  He finds himself hoping he sees the next blaze.  In a old burn he got lost off trail for about 3 hours.  He has been relying on his map and compass a ton.  It has been some of the roughest trail he has ever walked so far.  He said that Survivor guy Bear Grylls doesn’t have shit on him!  Now he is doing dirt road and had recently walked a section with a nice mix of pines and palms.  He is actually on the Miami Canal now and hopes to be at Lake Okeechobee tomorrow.  He is hoping over the next 4-5 days to pull at least a half day ahead of his itinerary.

Tatu went to take a dip this evening and a decent sized alligator popped up
12/10 10:AM

I was actually home this time Tatu called.  He sounds like he is definitely having an excellent time on trail.  He mentioned it is more of an adventure then a race track.  He has to constantly navigate via map and compass.  At one point he spent 3.5 hours just to go 5 miles.  If he was doing the trail again he would definitely do a southbound trip.  Today he was skirting Orlando on the trail.  He is doing the eastern alternate here instead of going to the west.  Tatu told me the eastern route is longer too.  Tatu is staying on the true FT the entire way.  The biggest issue affecting his mileage is the short days.  There is about a 12 hour window of daylight he has to work with.  From what Tatu was able to research before beginning his trip the FKT is between 40-45 days.  He shouldn’t have any issues coming in well under that.  Water has been an issue too.  He is using a straw to filter the water he is drinking.  He also saw his first boar yesterday!

if it wasn't for the cobwebs Tatu would swear he is walking in circles

Tatu is pulling in on his miles a little, but he definitely has to give it his all to get a 38 mile day in.  Main factor working against him is the short days.  He definitely has to stay on top of keeping his gear dry from the condensation.  He is usually walking in the morning with tons of gear hanging off the pack so that it dries.  The thorns have been really bad, and the thorns on are on the grass that he has been walking through daily.  He has a tiny blister on the back of his heel about the size of a dime.  He hacked part of the inside of the heel out of the shoe.  He is wearing gators on this trip and glad to have them for all the thorns and weeds.  Yesterday he walked in weeds past his knees all day.  The stems were bad where they had recently mowed for 12 miles which slowed him down.  He is happy to be getting his first new pair of shoes in his next resupply.  3 more days to those new kicks.  So far things are going good for him, he is staying relaxed and saving his energy so he has enough to turn around.  He really doesn’t have any ones time to beat so it isn’t weighing heavy on him currently.  The bugs have been bad lately, it sounds like a war going on constantly.  They are around his head going “WHHHHRRRRR RRRRR RRRRR RROWWWW” non stop going through the swamps.  The sierra have nothing on Florida as far as bugs go.  It has been wearing on him mentally having to deal with them non stop.  Even the locals say it is bad this year.


Tatu has now dropped 17-25 miles behind his itinerary.  Nothing bad, but he can’t navigate at night in the rough terrain.  Going in and out of the woods, then swamps, then grasslands.  Very little tread and very little trail work.  The only nights he can make up some time are nights where he ends on a road.  Still hoping to post a low 30 record, and not worried since the record he is attempting to beat is 45 days.  He just hopes he can keep the NOBO leg of his yo yo under 35 days so he has enough time to turn around.  He has a job opportunity he doesn’t want to miss.  He is still having fun though and highly recommends the trail.  It is definitely worthwhile for all the wildlife he has been seeing: armadillos, snakes, skunks, boar, alligators and tons of birds.  More wildlife than on any other trail he has walked so far.  Some of the birds are huge, the size of pterodactyls.  He has also seen a ton of carnage.  Today he saw 3 dead hawks.  He has been video taping the wildlife encounters.  So far he has seen every critter except the puma or the bear.  He has seen a ton of bear scat, but no bears yet.  He is amazed that bears live in the swamps.  This evening he is in a really cool camp in Hickory Hammock.  This area is his favorite so far on trail.  This stretch is about 100 miles long with only 8 miles of road walking.  The vegetation goes from pines to palms to hickory stands to swamp to grassland with just enough swamp to soak your feet and piss you off.  Going through the swamps have been some of the biggest adventures of his life.  Where he is tonight the area is about half underwater most of the year.


Tatu is now in a section where there is finally some decent tread and he has been able to put in some good miles, many 38’s.  It is good and has put him back in a good mindset.  (Unfortunately much of this message Tatu’s phone was cutting in and out)


Crazy people out on the trail!  He stumbled into some raccoon hunters who started yelling at him, “Hey boy! You boy with the light! Come here!”  They ended up following Tatu by parrelling him on a road while he walked the single track.  They kept yelling at him while he darted down the trail while holding his handheld light low so as not to be detected easily.  He has a new Coleman flood lamp he has been using at night and that has definitely helped increase his daily mileage recently.  It really lights up the trail good at night and he doesn’t mind how much battery it eats up as long as he can navigate at night.  Killer!  He is definitely looking at a 33-35 day NOBO on the trail.  The last few nights have been really cold on trail with dew.  The days have been hot so a extreme difference between the night time lows and the day time highs.  He is now traveling without a foam matt and he is relying on raking up thick beds of duff to sleep on to stay warm.  He has also been setting up both his bug shelter and his tarp for warmth at night.  He is now entering the northern part of Florida and he expects it to get colder as he continues north.  Tatu is now thinking he will finish the NOBO leg of his FT yo yo on or around 12/1 (New Years) or 12/2.

Rails to Trails segment around Lake Butler

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