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[ft-l] The Big 360 Hike - Update
Days into hike - 31
Latest segment hiked:
Cross Florida Greenway to near Moss Bluff - 23.0 miles
Cumulative miles hiked - 317.6
Miles to go - 42.4
Comments: Sandy and I had a chance to hike one day each of the past two
weekends. We took advantage of some recent trail development and the advice
of Ken Smith to improve the hike by extending our hike further within the
Greenway. According to the maps the eastward hike of the Greenway ends at
the Santos trailhead at US 441 where a rather longish roadwalk to Belleview
and Oklawaha begins. Instead, we continued across 441 past a historical
church in what was once the town of Santos (a black community which
disintegrated decades ago under pressure from the barge canal interests) and
through some suburbs to connect with a system of paved trails in the
Greenway. In this area, the Florida Trail's familiar orange blazes reappear,
and we followed them except in places where blackberry vines threatened to
make us easy pickins for any nearby vampire. In those areas, we retreated
gratefully to the paved trails. After almost three miles, this becomes the
Marshall Swamp Trail which has a noisy crushed gravel surface and is posted
as handicapped accessible.
The 5.6 mile hike from the land bridge parking area was especially difficult.
It took us 4 hours. In the sweltering summer humidity it felt like the set
from the old Tarzan movies, which coincidentally were filmed in nearby Silver
Springs. A spider web clearing stick was a necessity as the leader (we took
turns) had to deal with approximately 100 webs per mile. So the spiders
slowed us down, while their allies in an unholy alliance, the mosquitoes --
following us relentlessly in swarms -- gave us the impetus to move ever
faster. We've hiked this section twice, and have a very strong suspicion
that the mileage is at least one or two miles greater than the map says.
Though the trail is very beautiful in this section, we were VERY happy to
reach the Santos trail head.
Someday the trail will continue farther to the northeast of the Marshall
Swamp Trail to hook up with the main trail at Store 88 in the Ocala National
Forest. Recent posts by Sandy Hubbard and Deb Blick discussed the
trailblazing work done so far. But for us, it was time, after 24 interesting
miles to bid the Greenway farewell. It was also time to acknowledge another
milestone on our hike. At Sharps Ferry Road we reached the northernmost
point of the hike. We crossed the Oklawaha River on an old fashioned
drawbridge and shortly there after took a dirt road that borders the Ocala
National Forest and heads southeast toward Moss Bluff. At midday we took a
break to visit a diner we had seen when we scouted this route for Nimblewill
Nomad. I'd be damned if I'd pass up this opportunity to eat at the Dam Diner
which overlooks a dam of the Oklawaha. It was everything I could have hoped
for, good hearty food at a reasonable price where you can get a burger cooked
medium rare if you want. Mighty fine eatin' for trail weary hikers!
We faced with an interesting choice on Sunday, continue our hike or take
advantage of free passes courtesy of Sandy's parents to see Silver Springs.
Since the zoo animals are to be removed next month and I had never been to
the attraction, it would be my last chance to see the park as it was. So,
needless to say, we took a day off from hiking.
Our schedules have conspired to keep us occupied the next 4 weekends, so our
last 3 hiking days will have to wait a bit. Enjoy the vacation from our