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[ft-l] Ocala National Forest Trip Report - Chapter 2

Day 2 - Friday

It was cold in the morning so we didn't tarry, though I was a bit behind the 
others leaving camp.  In an attempt to find a shortcut, I took an unmarked 
trail behind the privies and found myself in the midst of the Rainbow People. 
 They have not well developed the art of yogiing, but I found the many "I 
love you, man" comments touching, kinda like the guy from those funny Bud 
Light commercials a couple years ago.  As I had no tobacco, I could not 
satisfy their urgent requests.

In a few minutes, I met up with my buddies and we set off on the hike to 
Juniper Springs where my car was parked.  The plan was for me to drive Jeff 
and Not To Worry back to Clearwater Lake so they could move the cars to our 
destination of Rodman Dam Campground at the northern end of the Forest.  Dark 
Star waited at Juniper Springs and kept an eye on our gear.  Jeff gets credit 
for mentioning that it would be pretty easy to order pizzas at a restaurant 
at Salt Springs during the shuttle process.  The plan worked to perfection 
and only added about 10 minutes to our logistics for the afternoon.  However, 
we were not hiking from 2 PM to 4 PM as a result of all this shuffling, so to 
make our planned camp at Hidden Pond that evening would require a night hike. 
 The two large pizzas fueled us for the effort, so we decided to go for it. 

On the way back from shuttling the vehicles to Rodman Campground, we spotted 
a bumper snicker on a beat up old pick up "When I die bury me face down so 
the world can KISS MY ASS!"  We had a chuckle over that one.  :)

The sun set at about 5:30 and it was an overcast evening.  By 6 PM it was 
dark and we still had 3 miles to go.  Feeling very energetic from the pizza, 
I led the way.  We came upon a prairie to our left and I experienced an 
explosion of ruffled feathers from the dense scrub to my right and left as I 
walked through a tunnel of scrub oaks.  The birds of the prairie had come to 
roost along the trail and were startled as I hiked by.  It was too dark to 
see anything but the dim outline of vegetation and I wasn't using a 
flashlight, so only my ears alerted me to the profusion of birds around.  The 
explosions came from my left, then my right, sometimes simultaneously.  In 
the course of about 15 minutes that the trail borders this area, I must have 
heard the sounds of over a hundred birds fleeing from me.  It was a wonderful 
experience -- memorable for my first night hike ever.  Perhaps the birds 
reactions would be different.

We all found Hidden Pond successfully and set up our tents in the dark.  It 
wasn't quite so cold this evening, but it did rain pretty hard during the 
night, but ending before morning.

Happy trails,

Solar Bear

"The true profession of a man is to find his way to himself."  Still looking, 
but I'm not finding any blazes.  :)
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