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[ft-l] FT trip report(s)



The last week in March, Sandy "Navigator" Friend was here for a
working visit, gathering information for the writing of several
books--the text for the Westcliffe book on the Florida Trail (due
out later this year) with photography by Bart Smith (who did the
PCT book with Karen Berger&husband and the AT book with Earl Shaffer
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/ref=3Ds_sf_b_as/
103-0843289-9823839>), data for a North Florida travel book in the
"___, an Explorer's Guide" series by Countryman Press (Leonard
"Habitual Hiker" Adkins did one for Maryland <http://www.amazon.com/
exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0881505188/qid=3D1049415875/sr=3D1-2/ref=3Dsr_1_2/
103-0843289-9823839?v=3Dglance&s=3Dbooks>), and a book on hiking trails
in all of Florida, (forgot which publisher) but with a little less
detail than in her "50 Hikes in ___" books (<http://www.amazon.com/
exec/obidos/search-handle-form/ref=3Ds_sf_b_as/002-8760679-6653637>).
That Navigator is one busy gal!

Here's a  trip report on our hikes and feeding frenzies.  Daytime
temp's. were in the 70's, as I recall.

Night 1: Dinner at DiBella's restaurant "around the corner" from my
house.  I had salmon; Sandy had some other seafood thing.  Yummy.  I
had Tiramisu for dessert.  Also yummy.
 	Day 1:  "Native-azaleas Day."  Drove south of Tallahassee to
the Apalachicola National Forest (<http://www.southernregion.fs.fed.
us/florida/forests/apalachicola.htm>) and along  miles of forest road
to the section of the Florida Trail section that follows the Sopchoppy
River.  The river had flooded in recent rains, leaving nice white sand
on the trail in many places.  The tea-colored water had receded, but
the river was still very high in its banks. The native wild pink
azaleas were in bloom everywhere.  Cypress trees grew in the river and
along its banks.  Small bridges, built since the last time I hiked
there, made crossing the many tributary-ravines exceedingly pleasant.
We until the trail turned away from the river, and then headed back to
the car.  Saw one dayhiker and a huge Polyphemus moth
<http://www.virtualinsectary.com/insects/insect_3.htm>.
	We drove farther west, to the "Smith Creek" section of the FT,
stopping on the way to move a box turtle out of the road.  Ate lunch
at the trailhead, then hiked south along the Ochlockonee River toward
Smith Creek.  There were more native azaleas and also Florida Anise, a
threatened species growing to 15 ft. high, looking more like trees
than the shrubs they are.  <http://www.lazyknursery.com/images/
PicturePages/Trees%20and%20Shrubs/florida_anise.htm>
	After that, a short trip south to where there's a side trail
off the FT to an historic Cracker homestead--Langston House--the
remains of a home in the middle of nowhere that makes you stop and
think about how it must have been to live in such circumstances.
	Night 2: Dinner at Bhan Thai restaurant.  I had sweet/sour pork
w/ scallions, cucumber, and tomato.  Sandy's dinner was supposed to
have been "medium" hot but turned out "volcano!!"  I think she downed
half a dozen glasses of liquid before she finished.  A birthday party
was in progress and we got to observe the staff performing a Thai song
and dance accompanied by finger cymbals, a small gong, and some other
instrument.  Way cool.
	Day 2:  "Tromp-through-water Day."  Drove wa-a-a-y farther west
(still in the Nat'l. Forest) to where the FT passes near an old
railroad siding and through the remnants (nearly invisible) of the
settlement of Vilas, built during the hey-day of the turpentine
industry here in Florida.
	Then even farther west, to Camel Lake campground, south of
Bristol...and on past it on forest roads to an intersection with the
FT in an area where there were reputed to be many Pitcher Plants (also
protected).  Here's where it got WET.  Much of the trail was covered
in water overflowing from the swamps along the sides of the trail.  I
walked through one "overflow" that was almost knee deep.  Once, there
was a 'plonk' in a little pond off a few feet to the side of the
trail.  I couldn't see what it was, but on the way back it happened
again and Sandy saw it was a small 2-ft alligator.  When I finally
spotted it, all I could see was its eyeballs just barely above the
water.  That was a-plenty, thank you!  Eventually we got to the
Pitcher Plants-- yellow ones--everywhere.  Quite a sight
<http://www.pitcherplant.com/image_folder1/sflava.html>.
	Night 3:  Dinner at Cabo's Island Grill, a local hangout with
"beach bum & surfboard" d=E9cor <http://199.44.235.18/cabos/>.  Crumby
food, but a certain ambience.
	Day 3:  "Driving-for-miles-and-miles Day."  A hundred miles
west of Tallahassee, north of Panama City, lies the Econfina Creek
section of the FT.  Very beautiful, but currently not too easily
accessible along much of its length due to lack of real bridges (which
will not be installed any time soon, I hear), high water level, and a
powerful current.  There are large and long (35-40 ft.) tree "bridges"
across the creek, but when we got to the first one south of the
northern trailhead, the water was so high it was surging against the
bottom of the (slanted) log and the hand cable was so loose that it
flopped out many feet to the side, totally useless.  Way too dangerous
a crossing for us, so we decided to go no further.  Too bad, because
Sandy had wanted to get a photo of the waterfall which is farther
down the trail.  It was a round trip of about 5 miles, along nicely
ravine-bridged and recently maintained trail.  Wild azaleas in
profusion, and mountain laurel just beginning to bloom.  Wildlife
sightings were confined to one cotton mouth water moccasin scuttling
away into the brush  <http://www.wf.net/~snake/moccasin.htm>.
	We then drove to the southern trailhead for this section so
Sandy could get a GPS data point there.  Sat under the pines and had
lunch.  Possibly saved the life of a dehydrated and almost
hyperthermic long-distance bicyclist who road in off the highway  and
asked if we had any extra water.  He was red-faced, shakey, and
nauseated, so we got him in the shade and filled him up with icewater
from the 5-gal. cooler I had been putting in the truck each day, but
had never needed until then.  Maybe I had been toting it around just
for this occasion.
	Then Sandy drove off to the Alabama Hiking Trail Society's
conference which began that evening.  I drove the 100+ miles back home
and pretty much collapsed.
	Waiting to hear Sandy's version of this, and hoping for a
trip report from her on the conference and her Blackwater/Eglin
hiking.

	-- eArThworm

Linda L. Patton, Reference Librarian, Strozier Library, Florida State Univ.
      Tallahassee, FL 32306-2047 (850)644-5019 lpatton@mailer.fsu.edu
          "A world without wilderness is a cage." -- David Brower