Our second hitch took us out to the western side of the Apalachicola National Forest, not far from Torreya State Park. On the 29th we traveled from St. Mark's to the Camel Lake campground in Apalachicola National Forest. From there it was only a short drive to our project site on the FNST. We were sent to Camel Lake to construct a boardwalk leading up to a bridge built by volunteers recently. We constructed 50 feet of boardwalk, 30 feet on the south side of the bridge, and 20 feet on the north side. It took just over half a day to haul in the materials the quarter mile to the bridge. We used eight four foot long 8x8's for the sills and ten 12 foot 4x8's for the stringers. Despite the relatively short hike it took quite a bit of work to get the lumber to the site as it was all waterlogged and extremely heavy.
After hauling out the lumber the next challenge was to set and level the sills in six inches of standing water. Leveling a sill can be a delicate and time consuming task on dry land. Figuring out how to level them in muddy water that can't be seen through was an extra challenge. We soon realized that the best method was to stand on the sill and use a sledge hammer to position it in place. With this method the sill burried itself in the mud and laid flat. After getting the sills laid in the rest of the project was a sinch. We laid out the remaing for sills and constructed all of the boardwalk the next day.
The next day, Feb 1st, we packed up camp at Camel Lake and moved to Porter Lake, also located in the Apalachicola National Forest. After setting up camp at Porter Lake we scouted the first two miles of trail that we would be working on. From our scouting we determined that painting blazes was more important than cutting corridor, which was in pretty good shape other than a few problem areas. For the next two days we painted blazes and cut corridor on the FNST from Porter Lake heading east. Ian, Tony, and Eileen painted blazes while Sam and Scott cut corridor. In the two days we finished painting blazes and clearing corridor from Porter Lake to the western boundry of the Bradwell Bay Wilderness, a distance of approximately 6 miles.
On our last day of hitch, Feb. 4th, we packed up camp in the morning then hiked 6 miles through the Bradwell Bay Wilderness. None of us had ever hiked through a swamp before, and all jumped at the chance to do so. After our 6 mile hike through thigh high water we jumped back in the truck and headed home, all of us soaking wet but in good spirits.
Boardwalk: 52 feet
Corridor Cleared: 4 miles
Blazes Painted: 6 miles