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[at-l] Florida hiking

Well, as I knew but went along and did it anyway, hiking in FL in June is
fraught with peril -- bugs and dehydration. After 6 days in cars, quarries,
and roadcuts, I was *itching* to get out and tromp. Talked my husband and
parents into dayhiking several miles in the Ocala Natl Forest -- to visit
the Lake Eaton Sinkhole and Lake Eaton itself, in hopes of seeing some
wildlife. Mom & Dad wore long sleeves and pants, Dave and I shortsleeves
and shorts. Guess who got bit? The horseflies were horrid. Skintastic
didn't faze 'em. I had to flail constantly to keep 'em off. Mosquitoes
weren't as bad as we see 'em in Canada (or even PA), but ticks kept
appearing. Luckily in FL most of the bugs are SO HUGE you can see 'em,
ticks no exception. Plenty of the big yellow garden spiders and little crab
spiders, enough we had to sweep the trail ahead as we walked.

The trails lead through mostly sand pine ecosystems, lots of deer moss, so
much it looks like rocks from a distance. The sinkhole trail led down into
a 200' deep sinkhole filled with magnolias, maples, oaks, and other
hardwoods that preferred the cooler environs. One unusual species, wish I
knew the name, of palmetto with thin tapering points to it (needle
palmetto?). Little wildlife afoot.

The lake trail led to three overlooks, no signs of gators but a couple
little blue herons along the shore. It ascended into a near-desert
environment, where the pines had been logged out and it was all sand, huge
prickly pear cactus, and scrubby little live oaks. Mostly sand. 

We had water in the car so that helped, and Mom & I carried water (why is
it always the women?) along. But we were all pretty dried out after only 2
hrs of (slow) hiking (I kept Mom's pace, she has heart trouble). Glad to
drive back to their house and jump in the pool. We did some shorter hikes
subsequently (Devil's Millhopper, Juniper Springs) and a lot of walking.

I made out OK but Mom, Dad & Dave got these terrible red welts that Mom
thought might be chiggers. Seems that whatever it was got under their
clothing -- Dave had long socks, and I had super-short ones. Dave went to
the doctor today and was told it was red ant bites, but I know those sting
when you get 'em, and no one complained about bites until they took their
clothes off that night and saw the welts. Oddly enough, I didn't get any,
but did find a tick on me (and Dave) when showering that eve.  

Will stick to winter hiking in FL whenever possible! <G>

Missed you guys! Anything interesting happen on the list (or on the trail)
in the past two weeks?

Later, Sandy
GA->ME 1999	<downs@nb.net>	Visit Cyberwall! http://www.nb.net/~downs
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