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[ft-l] CREW hike

Hi there everyone.  I hope your holidays are going well, and that you are 
able to make it outside some!  I sure was glad to get out today!  It was a 
wonderful 70 degrees, mostly cloudy, slightly breezy day.  I decided that I 
need to explore the trails nearest me, so I went to CREW Marsh Trail System 
about 18 miles east of Estero (I-75 Exit 19).  
(http://www.crewtrust.org/INDEX.htm)  The trailhead is tucked back off the 
road, so I drove right by and had to make a U-turn.  It figures.  The parking 
area is well-maintained and manicured.  I don't know what I expected, but 
this was really nice.  

The trail system consists of three trails ranging from 1-2 miles each.  I 
don't have exact distances for each trail, but I hiked them all.  The Hammock 
Trail goes through dry hammocks (of all things!) with mostly pine, palmetto 
and some oak trees.  I saw a snake skin right on the trail.  The Hammock 
Trail also leads to the primitive camping area at the southwestern end of the 
trail system.  The camping area had 3 campsites with picnic tables at 2 of 
them, a fire pit at one, and a grill at another one.  The area is bordered on 
three sides by marshlands.  Just beyond the camping area, I (was pretty sure) 
identified deer tracks and then, just to prove I was correct, I saw a 
white-tailed deer.  It's a shame deer hear/see/smell me before I see them.  
This deer bounded off flashing it's white tail at me.  Beautiful creature.

All of the trails are wide enough for a vehicle, but the Hammock Trail also 
has two new, single path trails constructed by Boy Scouts.  I accidentally 
took the Jabberwocky Trail as a detour to get to the primitive camping area, 
and noticed Raccoon Way on my return.  At points along Hammock Trail there 
are picnic tables and the trail crosses two culverts that allow water to flow 
through.  At one of the culvert crossings, there's even a sign to warn of 
alligators!  I was disappointed that I didn't see one...maybe next time!

While Hammock Trail is not a loop trail and backtracking is required, the 
other trails are loops or connection between the loops.  Off Marsh Loop Trail 
is the observation tower, overlooking the expanse of the marsh.  I was 
expecting some soggy walking, but all trails were fairly dry.  Marsh Loop 
trail had one spot that was wet, but also had plenty of room to skirt the 
edge of the water.  Most of Marsh Loop Trail and Alternate Marsh Trail (the 
connector between the two loop trails) were squishy, but not enough to cause 
a second though about getting my feet wet.  I'll have to go when it's wetter 
so I can do some slogging.

Flatwoods Loop Trail was dry, but had just been disked in preparation for 
prescribed burns (exactly as the information at trailhead warned), so I had 
to pay better attention to where I was placing my feet and avoid a twisted 
ankle.  On this trail I saw two armadillos. The first one ran into the thick 
palmettos before I came within 40 feet of it.  The second one was quite busy 
digging for food and I was able to get to within 8 feet of it.  Silly me, 
thinking 8 feet wasn't quite close enough, scared it off before getting a 

I saw seven other people, one hiking with two dogs.  It was a great place to 
go to 'get out.'  I'm considering using the primitive camping area for my 
first solo overnighter, but I'm a little concerned about noise.  The camping 
area is right on the edge of CREW's property and while I was there, I heard 
an ATV nearby in the adjacent property.  I'm assuming noise is not a usual 
problem there, otherwise the camping area wouldn't be there, but I will check 
with CREW before making any plans!

I can't wait to get out again!  (Maybe New Year's Day!)

"Procrastination is a dream-killer."

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