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[ft-l] Weekend hiking misadventures (Seminole & Wekiva)



If it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all.  I was in Daytona for
the weekend to meet my sister and our parents for Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University's 75th anniversary (my sister was class of 2000)
since the airshow didn't interest me, I figured I'd go hiking Saturday.

Not having a map of Bulow Creek, I figured I'd try Rock Springs Run, but
there was a hunt in progress, so I wound up at Seminole.  I figured I'd
do the Lower Wekiva loop.  (BTW, is there a hunt schedule on the web
somewhere?)

A quick check of the map posted at the trailhead (and an unsuccessful
search for a trail map among the fliers there) and I was off.  The
non-FTA part of the loop desperately needs maintenance.  There were
several blow down to climb over or under.  The parts of the trail in the
more wooded areas along Wekiva River and Blackwater Creek were very
overrun, some parts were more bushwacking than hiking.  The trail
emerges to make a "T" with a horse trail.  With a choice of straight
(south) or right (west) and no blazes in sight, I went straight because
the parking lot was that general direction.  Quite a ways down the horse
trail, I did see a single blaze, but I figured I had to be on the wrong
trail because the only other markers I saw were horse trail signs.  I
knew I was in the middle of the loop I wanted to be on, and if I somehow
went too far I had the rivers to my east, the highway to the south, and
the park road to the west, but I eventually saw an orange blazed cross
trail--the FNST.  A quick compass check to verify the direction and I
was back on track.  It was a pleasure to be back on a trail where the
deadfall had been cleared (except for one tree with a quick diversion
around it).  All in all, not a good fist impression of the TrailWalker
program, but I'll go back later in the hiking season, I'm sure it will
be clearer then, even if it's just from use and not maintenance.

Sunday meant a trip home down I-4, so I figured I'd hike Wekiva Springs.
First I got lost finding it because the FTA map indicates the park is on
SR-464, but it's not.  There's also no sign for the park at the turn,
although there was one coming off the highway.  Of course if I would've
read the directions on the back of the map, they are correct, but my
Florida DeLorme atlas was actually what put me back on track--until I
got into the park anyway.  Past the youth camps, the road to Sand Lake
was closed (along with a "men working" sign), so I went back to the
ranger station to find out what's going on.  Turns out, that part of the
park has been closed for 5 months and will be closed 5 more months due
to a restoration in the park.  There's only 1 mile of hiking trail open
in the park.  I didn't think to ask the ranger how you restore
wilderness, or what parts of wilderness are capable of being restored.

Side note:  Doesn't anyone in Gainesville know about Wekiva?  The web
site is woefully out of date.  It indicates Wekiva's trail conditions as
nothing to report and is dated late 1999!!!

As I headed down I-4 I debated going to Little Manatee instead, but
since I don't have a map I decided to pass.  Travelling mapless is
foolhardy, and my trip through Seminole proved it--of course next time I
try a TrailWalker trail, I'll bring paper to sketch the map at the
trailhead.

Also, speaking of maps, are the packets offered by FTA the same maps as
the Tampa Reprographics ones listed on the site, or have they been
updated?

________________________________________________________________________
John F. Meyer, Jr.      jfm@johnmeyer.net      http://www.johnmeyer.net/
NASO, ABUA, FBU 43, WFFUA, GCFOA                      USAAR, USARA, USAT