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Re: [ft-l] Ocala National Forest Trip Report - Chapter 1

Yes, fellow FT hikers, be aware that the concessionaire at both Juniper
Springs and Alexander Springs in the Ocala National Forest are charging $10
a night for overnight trailhead parking.  Now, this is secured parking
within the gates and patroled in the evenings, but it is a stiff fee.
Especially when day use parking is only $3 and you can get a campsite there
for $14 a night and park 2 cars!  Anyway, FTA is aware of it and has lodged
an inquiry with the FS in Tallahassee about the high cost and several other
people that I know of have also written in complaints to Tallahassee.  This
is the concessionaire doing this, not the Forest Service, but since the
Forest Service confers the lease to the concessionaire with enough protest
perhaps something can be done about.  In the past the concessionaire was
using the trailhead parking lots as overflow day use and campsite parking,
leaving no room for hikers to park there and the Forest Service did put a
stop to that practice.  If anyone on the list would like to express their
concern about the high fee (a small fee for secured parking would certainly
be understandable and reasonable) you can contact the following:

Marsha Kearney
Woodcrest Office Park
325 John Knox Rd, Suite F-100,
Tallahassee, FL  32303
E-mail address: r8_fl@fs.fed.us
Fax 850-942-9305

Ocala Ranger Districts:
Lake George (Juniper Springs) - District Ranger, Silver Springs, FL 34488,
352-625-2520, E-mail address: r8_fl_lakegeorge@fs.fed.us
 Seminole (Alexander Springs) -  Jim Thorsen, Umatilla, FL 32784,
352-669-3153, E-mail address: r8_fl_seminole@fs.fed.us

PS, I haven't tried these email adresses to see if they actually work.  Got
them off the USDA FS website.


> We decided that Juniper Springs would make for a good
> intermediate shuttle point, shaving off some of the logistical time it
> take to shuttle a vehicle all the way to the northern terminus at Rodman
> Campground.  This was an expensive choice since Juniper Springs charges
$10 a
> day for overnight parking!!!!!  We were shocked, but so eager to begin the
> hike that we agreed to the extortion.  We left my car at Juniper and drove
> his Jeep to the Clearwater Lake trailhead.
> As we unloaded our packs from the Jeep, Matthew Carter, a young man of 27
> approached and asked questions about the trail.  It turned out that he and
> his partner had driven from Kentucky and North Carolina to escape the
> weather and to have their first reunion hike since thruhiking the
> Trail in 1999.  Matt's trail name is Dark Star and he summitted Katahdin
> July 23rd, 1999 after a hike lasting 4 months and 4 days.  Ed Speer is his
> buddy.  Ed is 50 and uses the trail name Not To Worry.  Ed had to drop out
> Duncannon last year due to a family crisis but will be back at Springer in
> mid-March to become a 2000 miler in 2000.
> Because they had to get their packs provisioned, we got a head start on
> but at our first rest stop, they joined us, and we remained together for
> rest of this pleasant trip. The first thing I noticed is that they were
> sporting GoLite Breeze backpacks.  Dark Star carried a bivy and Not To
> had a Nomad tent which he had just received and was trying out for the
> first time.  Jeff, too, was sporting his homemade lightweight backpack. So
> was very out of place with my Camp Trails Wilderness external frame pack.
> I'm guessing that all three of their packs combined weighed less than half
> my pack!  I also had the heaviest tent in the group, my North Face
> Hiking with three lightweight backpackers was sure making me envious.
> It was cool hiking that day, and miles on the level terrain mounted
> We decided to push on to Buck Lake for the night where we would find water
> and privies, a distance of 15 miles.  We became friends rapidly, since we
> were familiar with the AT and long distance backpacking.  Dark Star and
> To Worry send special greetings to any who read this whom they've hiked
> on the AT.
> Not To Worry erected his Nomad for the first time on the trail.  As
> it looks great and draws a lot of interest.  However, he didn't have in
> the kind of interest that a passing dog had in christening it by lifting
> hind leg before Not To Worry even had a chance to set foot inside.
> Fortunately, he shooed away the dog before the deed was done.
> Dinner for me was a heavenly concoction of Ramen noodles, instant potatoes
> and gravy and dehydrated veggies and chili meat which I cooked up on my
> stove.  Many thanks to POG for the dehydrated stuff -- best tasting trail
> meal I ever cooked.
> Since it was getting cold quickly, we all retired to our tents, and by
> quiet reigned in our little lakeside campsite.  Hours later as I was
> pleasant thoughts of maidens, damsels and hiker babes, the serenity was
> interrupted as a car passed by with stereo blasting and windows open.  We
> heard a couple of lines of Mick Jagger singing Honky Tonk Women which
> faded back to quiet.  Kind of fitting with the dream!  :)
> Chapter 2 tomorrow, kiddies.
> Happy trails,
> Solar Bear
> "The true profession of a man is to find his way to himself."  Still
> but I'm not finding any blazes.  :)
> * From the Florida Trail Mailing List | http://www.backcountry.net *

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