Sunday, May 04, 2014

Hiking Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

After a week of rainy weather, we were ready to head out this weekend.  The last time we were at Lake Proctor there was a sign up saying the trail was closed until the end of April.  Well, early May and the sign was still up (and still had the same dates), so it looks like they forgot to take it down.  We're off!

This was one of those hikes that had its own little adventures along the way.  The trip started normally with nice wide trails that were covered in pine needles - a very comfortable hike to say the least.  Almost no mosquitos was a pleasant surprise considering all of the rain that we had lately, too.
We're Off!
Lack-of-information Kiosk The water levels in the area are really low right now, but I suppose they have been for a couple of years.  Lake Proctor is really more of a series of ponds right now.  Still, there are some nice views to take in on a beautiful spring day.

As we hit the northernmost part of the hike, there was an information kiosk (I read that these normally have "you are here" maps), but I guess we're back too soon for them to be updated.  From there, we had some great views through the forest including flowering prickly pear cactus, and lots of pine trees.
A little further down the path we made a wrong turn (distracted by the forest road, I guess) that took us to a spot that looked impassable without wading, so we turned back to get back on the trail.  After awhile, back on the trail we came to another spot where we had to cross some water.  Since we didn't want to turn back, and we were definitely on the path, we hunted around.  Tina got impatient and splashed here way through ankle deep water, but patience paid off for me.  I found a dry path eventually.

The next adventure was finding the next leg of the trail across the same water that continued the length of the eastern most part of our hike.  We made a couple of false starts before eventually finding the trail marker and getting back on track.  From here we were getting pretty hungry (we really should have brought our lunch with us instead of leaving it in the cooler in the truck).  We hiked back through the cleared field which was a good workout with all of the debris left behind.  Take a look at the photo labeled "Cleared field" and you can get an idea.
Flowering Prickly Pear 2
Definately flooded
Cleared field 1
Fence lizard
Once we were back in the woods, we decided to take a break when we came across a bench.  Hanging out on a tree next to us was an unusual lizard - he was a fat one with a shape that was close to that of a bearded dragon.  Tina looked it up and found that it was a Fence Lizard.  These are native to northern Florida, but aren’t usually seen this far south.

While sitting, we took another look at the satellite view on the cell phone and decided to clip about a mile off of our original trip by pushing through some brush and jumping on to another forest road.  This ended up being a lot more challenging than you might think if you've never been through Florida woods.  This was squeezing through trees and shrubs that were pretty darn thick... we couldn't see more than 5 feet or so past the plants at any time, they were so thick.  Still, it was fun!
On the last leg of the journey, we came across a live oak just covered in resurrection ferns that were recently resurrected from the rain.  That was a great picture (the one at the bottom).  We finally wrapped up our trip with a late lunch on the tailgate of the truck.  All in all, it was another beautiful day in Florida!
The .kml file is available from the “Trip Details” link just below the map.
Cleared field 2 Wrong turn - flooded path Definately flooded
Eastbrook Wetlands Sign Flowering Prickly Pear 1 Flowering water lilies
Happy Tina Hooray - so far so good You are hear - kinda

Live Oak with Ferns

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