“You look ugly when you paddle.”

Florida is bomb AF so far. Here is a short list of reasons.

I’ve seen my favorite (probably) band…

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…twice. UMPHREY’S!

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Gainesville has a hashing kennel (GATRH3 here). Because it’s small, they only have trails once or twice a month so I’ve only been to one trail. They’re SERIOUS about shiggy here; we went through swampy streams and everyone’s tutus were getting caught up on thorns and there was post-trail itchiness from chiggers.

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Thanks to Craigslist, I somehow managed to find the best roommate ever (yay Jordin!). We also have somehow not managed to take a pic together, so this is the third roommate, Violet.

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Jordin and I go out and tear up downtown G’ville on the reg. So magical!

We took a wee trip to St. Aug also.

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Tailgating in SEC territory is insane. I already knew that, but tailgating a UF game with a UT alumnus makes it even more hilarious.

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Life is pretty damn awesome right now, and filled to the brim with fun stuff. I’m finally living somewhere that doesn’t make me hate everything (*cough* Utah).

BUT ON TO THE IMPORTANT SHIT.

UF has an amazing outdoor rec club called OAR. (Their website’s interface is really legit for planning trips)

They run tons of trips all over the southeast, and some further than that. A couple people went to Guatemala this month, and that’s apparently not unusual. The trips are all really cheap because they’re run at cost, i.e., the club doesn’t make any money from them.

Because I haven’t been canoeing in like four years (travesty!), I jumped on a paddling trip in northern Florida in August. A half dozen of us did two days on the north Withlacoochee River. It was 27 miles from just over the border in Georgia to where the river meets up with the Suwanee River.

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The most unique, notable natural features in Florida are the springs. People have been insisting that I see the springs since long before I got here. Basically, there are places where water shoots out of the ground and forms a pool, usually adjacent to a river. There is the clearest picture I have showing where the clear, cold spring water meets up with more turbid, warmer river water.

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It’s incredible how clear and cold and blue (or green) the springs are. There were a bunch of springs along this stretch of the Withlacoochee.

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It was so good to be paddling again. While backpacking is my one true love, canoeing is an activity that elicits tons of nostalgia. It was how I first was introduced to the outdoors and will therefore always hold a special spot in my heart. Having a paddle in my hands just felt so right.

The people who went were awesome too. We found some jars full of (graveyard) dirt and paper bags with names written on them, and Nelson correctly guessed that they were voodoo.

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There was a boat trapped up in a tree.

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Then, this past weekend, some of us floated the Santa Fe River at Ginnie Springs. Because the property is privately owned, BEER! There are three big springs along the river, and we had a massive feast halfway through the float. I’m gonna take anyone who visits here, so come visit me bitches.

Erica Group (3) Santa Fe (2) Kristina (2)

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Thanks to Noah and Erica for these pics, because I took exactly zero. Woops.

I still occasionally think about my recent failed AT thruhike. Sometimes this happens unexpectedly and out of nowhere, and sometimes it’s instigated by a conversation about the outdoors or a thruhiker posting something on FB. I’ll experience a period of intense disappointment and pain, a feeling of failure that runs deep and hurts my heart. Though the frequency of these events has decreased, their intensity doesn’t seem to have. I’m trying to forgive myself and move on. This is so much harder than it should be.

I’m reminded of the AT when I think about how soft and weak my body has become. I haven’t been able to get back into a regular workout routine yet, as much I yearn for that, because my back is still not quite healed. That will hopefully happen soon (hope hope hope seems like all I’ve been doing and it’s not getting me anywhere) and I’ll be able to get back into some sort of shape.

It’s hard to rebuild that foundation from square one, which is a process I’ve had to go through way too many times. The process is always accompanied by endless frustration. This frustration will be especially strong this time because I should be on the AT in New Hampshire or Maine right now, in the most amazing shape of my life and about to end a significant, glorious journey. Instead I’m in Florida, trying to be as distracted as possible by this new place. And not think about my failure.

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