Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Suwannee Walk

A friend and I

Went on a

63 mile hike down

The Suwannee River

We packed our gear


Hitched a ride to a place

On that mighty waterway

Called Big Shoals

Not far from the

Georgia line

North East


White Springs Florida

I tried to make my pack

As light as possible

A few canteens of water


Light weight food 

A raincoat

Because in the dead of winter

Staying dry

When it’s 30 degrees

For hours on end 

Could mean

Not getting hyperthermia!

A hatchet


A Swiss Army Knife

Topped off my list of



Must-brings are everything

When everything

That keeps you alive

Is carried on your back

The one thing I didn’t bring

Was a tent

I knew it would add

Much weight to my hike

I gambled on

Not encountering rain

But that was a gamble

I would soon regret

Dropped off in

The middle of nowhere

A calm

Quickly draped over me

It lay softly on my shoulders

Reassuring me

I was in a far better place

Than the busy streets of the city

No cell phones

No reminders

Of the outside world

Except for the occasional Jet

Dividing the baby blue skyline

With its smoky white trails

That hug there above us

Like stick clouds of cotton

Long after the Jet

Disappeared from sight

That night

The fire was soothing to my cold hands

The soft sand by the river

Was as good as any bed

I had laid in before

At least it felt that way

After a day of nonstop walking

Sometime during the night

I woke to the sound

Of something close by

I shined my light


Scanned the river bank

I couldn’t see

What was making the noise


I did see

What looked like

A thousand eyes

Staring back at me

It was hundreds of spiders

I had never seen something

So amazing

Their crystal like eyes

Glowed like diamonds

In the beam of my flashlight

I clicked my light off


They had somewhere else to be

Than crawling on me in my sleep

The next morning

I saw what was making

The mysterious sound

Raccoon tracks on

Each side of me in the

White sugar sand

It had made its way down

To the river to drink

Exactly where

I was going to do the same!

The water was stained


Thick Bottom Cypress

That grows near the river’s edge

Their gnarly roots pierce

The water’s surface

Like dull daggers

Jutting upwards to make

A forest of water stumps!

After filtering the water

I drank

It was bitter but good

We packed up and started

To walk once more

At midday

I saw a man near the trailhead

Dressed in a white robe

His bearded face was dirty


Lined with an

Expression of many hardships

Lived in his life

His eyes wore a rugged stare

On his shoulder

Was an aluminum cross

Plenty large enough to crucify

A grown man!

He was dragging it step


Agonizing step

The cross’s exterior was dressed

With writing from top to bottom

Scriptures from the bible

Written with

The utmost conviction

Bold lettering that

Screamed from the silent voice

Deep from within! 

We passed one another

Never saying a word


In some way understanding

One another’s plight! 

Once the burning sun

Had fallen from above


Disappeared behind the tree line

The day’s walk was over

Bats had awoke for the night

They darted around us

As we made camp

On the edge of a lake

We shared a cold can of spaghetti

Then slept on the ground

We were too tired

To even take off our shoes

About five in the morning

I woke to the sky opening up

Cold raindrops stinging my skin

We grabbed our packs


Made our way to an overhang

By now

My friend was running a fever

We were roughly

26 miles from his truck

Which had been dropped off

The week before

We knew if we rented a canoe

We could make it

To his ride by sundown

Then drive

To the nearest town for medicine

Walking up to the canoe outpost

Our faces dropped

With heavy disappointment

When we saw a sign

That read

“Closed for the month of January”

We sat on the porch out of the rain


Thought of what to do next

Suddenly an old truck

Spotted with rust

Drove up in front of us

A man stepped from the cab

His skin was burnt brown

From years

Under the hot Florida sun

He was one of the shop owners

After we explained our situation

He was nice enough to rent

An old canoe to us

If we promised to bring it back

We did


Off we went down stream

In the drizzling winter rain

Dripping ice water

From the sky

6 hours and 26 miles later

We arrived

Weary and worn out

On the banks of

Suwannee River State Park

After setting up camp

We made our way into town

For medicine


A hot meal

The cars and lights

Seemed so foreign

After 8 days


Living off the grid

They blinked and glowed


A lush luminous luster

After getting supplies


Stopped at a pizza joint

As the waitress took our order

A woman with eyes wide


Constantly combing over us

Walked over


Handed me a coupon

“You boys need this more than I do!”

I guess we looked homeless

We hadn’t had a bath in a week


Had been sleeping

On the wet ground





None of it mattered


We were free for eight days

From the constant

Whirlwind of the civilized world 


Had survived

That shadowy river


The Suwannee

From my book, When The Cedars Shade Your Grave

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