Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Putting on the Miles

Post by Henry

We’ve had a good stretch of weather here in central Florida lately and we’ve taken advantage of it.

Friday we hiked over five (5) miles on the Florida Trail in the Green Swamp Preserve.  We discovered Concession Stand Camp, a nice backcountry campsite that we may have to return to on a short backpacking trip.  

Concession Stand Backcountry Campsite

The Green Swamp has become one of our favorite places in the area.

Saturday we drove to the JB Starkey Wilderness Park in Pasco County.  We hiked over three miles on the ‘birding trail’ and saw almost no birds.  

Trail with Live Oaks and Saw Palmetto

We DID see a Black and White Warbler, which is a new one for my life list.  It’s a handsome black and white striped bird and also one that doesn’t stay still for very long so we weren’t able to take a photo of it.

The park also has a 6.7 mile paved bike trail which connects to the 42 mile Suncoast Bike Trail.  Lots of biking trails around here.

Sunday, our Montana neighbors, Bob and Maureen, joined us and we biked ten (10) miles on the Withlacoochee Bay Trail north of Crystal River

Bob and Maureen on Withlacoochee Bay Trail

This trail parallels the Cross Florida Barge Canal which has become the Cross Florida Greenway.  The trail is pretty much a straight shot from US 19 to the Gulf of Mexico.  There are numerous spots to stop along the way with covered picnic tables and nice views if you ignore the ominous looking Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant nearby.  We stopped to eat our picnic lunch and enjoy the company and the view.

Looking toward the Gulf

Monday we paddled a little over five (5) miles on the Weeki Wachee River with Bob and Maureen.  We chose to paddle upstream towards the spring and started at Rogers Park.   We had heard this is a very popular place to paddle but that it was less crowded through the week.  Monday did not seem ‘less crowded’ as for about the first mile we had to dodge a constant stream of kayaks.  The first mile or so was lined with houses, but after that there were less kayakers, no houses, and the river became crystal clear.
Clear water of Weeki Wachee

It was quite a beautiful trip but the current we were paddling against was very strong. 

Taking a Break on the Weeki Wachee
Bob, Loretta, Henry in background

 While Bob and Maureen stopped for a swim we continued upstream to just past the 2.5 mile marker. 
When we turned around for the return trip mostly all we needed our paddle for was to make ‘course corrections’ as the current floated us back.  We only saw two manatees on this paddling trip, but still enjoyed the challenge of paddling upstream and the scenery. 

Yep.  Hiking, biking and paddling.  We’ve been putting on the miles.

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