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[ft-l] Kissimmee River Conditions
Well, I did. Finished the hike an hour before Pam Hale sent that email.
And I lived to tell about it. But damn, was it cold.
I thought my backpacking trip this weekend with Diane Raush in Myakka River
State Park was wet and cold. More on that later. But geez...Hickory Hammock?
On Monday morning, I had Doug McCoy drop me off at Bluff Hammock Road so I
could hike back down to my car at Hickory Hammock trailhead on US 98. He
hadn't heard anything about flooding, the weather forecast looked fine but
cool, and he gave me the warning that if the approach to the large bridge was
waist deep, I'd have problems.
The approach was only knee-deep. But to get to the knee-deep water, I had to
edge along the fence line with the ranch for quite some ways, since the trail
led right on out into the overflowing river. Into a current. Pushing through
the tall grass was an ordeal. I waded out to the bridge, went up and over.
Sloshed to the boardwalk, which was under water. I was thankful I had a stout
hiking stick with me. As I followed the orange-blazed fence poles out across
the water, the water kept getting deeper, deeper, deeper. Until finally my
hiking stick went under. I decided I'd rather not, and backtracked. Found a
way back to the fenceline.
After that ordeal, I decided I was pressing on come hell or high
water....which is what it was. After all, I had to get to my car. That first
two miles had me scared to death. Especially with temps in the high 40s, and
the river water not exactly warm, and the dog fennel way over my head in
places. I can now say I know the Kissimmee River rather intimately. It was up
to the bases of the cabbage palm fronds on the river islands.
I didn't get a chance to get truly warm and dry until I hit the bridge
leading over to the first of the beautiful hammocks, south of the ranch.
Perhaps two miles of mostly only squishy hiking. Then, south of the barn,
into the flood. At least here there was no current. And the water was too
damn cold to worry about snakes or 'gators. But it's tiring to push through
cold water for miles and miles and miles. The Hickory Hammock campsite showed
signs of dampness. South of there, more water still. Dark hydric hammocks up
to thigh-deep in dark water.
It took me 6 hours to do 9.5 miles. I changed into dry clothes at the car,
but it took most of the rest of the day, and a goodly amount of time standing
under a wonderfully hot shower, to lift the chill from my bones.