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[ft-l] The Big 360 Hike - Update

Days into hike - 29     

Latest segment hiked:

The Greenway  12.2 miles

Cumulative miles hiked - 294.6  

Miles to go - 65.4  

Comments: Leave it to your two hiking CPAs on the List to provide you all 
these numbers.  I do apologize that mine aren't nearly as interesting as 
Sunny's!  :)

As my son's birthday was on Saturday, this weekend only allowed for one day 
of hiking.  Sandy and I finished up the 3.2 mile roadwalk gap on Sunday 
morning and then headed into the woods of the Florida Greenway, a mile wide 
strip of land that was once to be the Cross Florida Barge Canal, for another 
9 mile amble.  Imagine our surprise to find a large section taped off with a 
sign, "Trail closed, lumbering in process."

We were stunned.  How could this be?  Just a year ago this section opened 
with the dedication of the land bridge over Interstate 75, built with an 
embarrassing number of millions of dollars.  And now already, it was 
closed?!!!!!!!  Bizarre!  And since when did the state office of Greenways 
allow logging on this narrow corridor that supports separate trails for 
hikers, bikers and equestrians?  These are all rhetorical questions, folks.  
I'll leave the whole mess of government actions, communication and 
accountability for those more accomplished than I.

This being the Big 360 (far more important than some state gov't logging 
operation!!!) we did what any good minded citizen would do, we griped a bit, 
then we ignored the sign and slipped under the tape!  :)  By the amount of 
hoofprints and bike tracks, I would guess that ours was not a solitary act of 

First the good news:  the clearcutting, while visible from a couple of places 
on the trail, does not infringe on the trail corridor.  The bad news:  In 
three places the trail is gashed where the heavy equipment used in these 
operations crosses the trail.

My anger stems from four causes:

1)  Being blindsided - why wasn't the hiking (let alone equestrians and 
bikers) community notified of this operation ahead of time?

2)  Logging in the Greenway?  If you read the Greenway literature and all its 
hype about multi-use, nowhere is logging mentioned.  It was bad enough 
listening to the hot air coming from those politicos during the dedication, 
but I might have had some rotten tomatoes ready for launch had I know this 
was conceivable.

3)  The trail is so new, and wonderful (thanks, Ken Smith) and yet already it 
has been torn up, and closed to its users.  The sign doesn't say for how long.

4)  Even though a corridor was maintained, (the same can't be said of other 
clearcuts along the trail) the viewshed has been compromised.

More good news though for long distance hikers.  The equestrians have 
installed two water pumps adjacent to our trails.  Of course the water will 
have to be treated.

The hike itself was a welcome change from the rail trail and road walks.  It 
was humid and it didn't take long for the sweat to pour, and we had to 
maintain constant vigilance for spider webs, but it was nice to walk on dirt 
instead of asphalt again.  It was also nice to see the woods full of 
moisture.  For much of our hike, the drought has gripped the trail, and we 
had seen the stress in much of the flora.  The woods are more cheerful when 
the resurrection ferns are green and succulent.  Our timing turned out to be 
impeccable as the big raindrops which were preceded by lightning and thunder 
fell as we concluded the hike and reached the shelter of our vehicles.

Happy trails,

Solar Bear