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Memorial day weekend of 2017. Sarah and I took a packpacking trip into the wilderness of St. Joseph Penisula. The peninsula is in the Gulf of mexico just south of Mexico Beach. It is about 20 miles long and eleven of the most northeastern are part of the state park. The seven miles of the tip are Wilderness.  A wilderness has no mechanical machinery,  you can’t even ride a bike.

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I had done a one night hike in the Wildernes during one of our camping trips at the State Park. I  also had done a two night backpacking trip the first of January of 2017 into the wilderness. You can read about the first trip in my other article on St Joseph State Park.

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The trip in January was exciting.  I hiked 3 miles up the sand road that runs up the center of the peninsula to the campering area that I had chosen with the rangers at the check in station. The location didn’t look that good. It was right on the road. There was lots of sand, no shade, looked as if a fire came through the area not to long ago. FB_IMG_1577648177122  There was also a trail here that bisected the peninsula, running from Gulf to the bay. I took a right and headed to the gulf. A hundred yards or so and just as the sand dunes started, I saw a campsite in the low maritimes  forest of Live Oaks. The Oak limbs were all bent and contoured.  The area had been used by campers before but was clean. There was an almost secret trail that lead to a oasis in the trees. The sand dunes blocked the sea breeze and the trees blocked the sun. It was a very cool campsite.

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The next day I spent the day hiking the 4 miles up the beach to the tip of the peninsula.  I believe I was new year’s day . I decided to take a polar plunge. There was part of a dock that had washed up, so I used as an area to strip. I hadn’t seen any one since I entered the Wilderness and I could see up and down the beach.  There was no one for miles. I got up to my chest but did not go under. After getting dressed, I keep heading up the beach.

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This part of the beach doesn’t see a lot of visitors  and there is a lot of debris washed up on shore. There are shoes, sunglasses, logs, lumber and at one point I found a orange.  It looked in good shape so it pealed it. The inside looked good so I ate it.

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At the tip of the peninsula the landscape is much different.  It’s all sand dunes and marsh. I explored the area. On the bay side there are several boats beached and families are out for the day exploring too. Some have dogs running around.

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I took the beach back down to the campsit. Then I tried to do some fishing with a net / trap that I had brought with me. I took it out to the bay side of the peninsula during low tied and put a long rope on it. I did have any luck but it was fun trying.

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The next day I took my time walking the beach back to my truck.

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Sarah Tibbitts and I went to St. Joseph Peninsula state park and camped in the Wilderness for three nights. Instead of hiking the three mile in like I had done in January,  we paddled 4 miles to the trail that bisects the peninsula.

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It was late when we arrived at the park. We drove to an area where we had launched kayaks into the bay before.  We had the canoe that we maned with gear and we towed Sarah’s Kayak loaded with gear.

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I didn’t have a map. Only my memory of the area from my January trip and a spot I picked out on a goggle map that I had on my phone. We set out at 7:30 in Hope’s of finding our camping spot. The trip out was fun and we saw a lot of sea life as the sun set.

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The last 30 or 40 minutes we were paddling in the dark.Using the Goggle map and Dead reckoning,  we were able to find the trail head with little difficulty. We made landfall at 9 PM.

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We secured the seats to a tree with a lock and cable.  I didn’t think anyone would take them but I wanted to make sure we had a way home. It was a 10 minute walk to the same campsite I had in January.  It took two trips to haul all the gear. We left some of the water at the boat. That was one of the biggest difficulties, was having enough fresh water.

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We spent a little time on the beach in the dark moonless night looking at a starfilled sky. The beach is magical at night. We then set up camp and was in bed at midnight.

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We spent two days on our private beach. We only saw 6 different people on the beach for very short periods. Maybe each person for only 5 minutes.

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We had a lot of down time. At one point, I had fallen asleep on the beach and Sarah took a walk. She left me a note in the sand.

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The sand dunes on St Joseph peninsula are the largest ones in Florida.  We had to cross over three sets of them to get to the Gulf from out campsite.  It was an effort to climb them. You could see where different animals had crossed. We had a opossum living near our camp.

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We saw dolphins feeding in the waves and where a sea turtle had come up in the night to lay eggs. We also kayaked around some in the bay. The water was as warm as a bath tub.

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We sailed with the tide on Monday morning at 9 and was back at the truck by 10:30 for the drive home.

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