Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hiking Little Big Econ WMA

Little Big Econ WMAWe headed out today with a goal of reaching the Culpepper Shelter, but it has eluded us yet again.  The last time we tried was back in June, but we were a little off the trail towards the end of the trip, and it started getting too hot to continue. We’ll try again in a few months, but today we simply enjoyed one of the nicest areas along the river to hike. 
The trail starts out at the end of Brumley Rd. and shortly after passing the trailhead sign there is a nice surprise on the north side of the trail – it’s an orange tree that is full of fruit.  I was leery of trying them, but Tina wanted to give ‘em a taste.  These were juicy and sweet, which was a pleasant surprise since the tree that doesn’t seem to be tended. 
Treetop fell downWe didn’t see the horses that were here last time, but we did see some cattle near one of the gates.  As we headed along to just before the turn north into the woods, we met a couple of hunters that seemed to be wrapping up for the day.  They didn’t seem to have any game, but there are deer, boar, and just about anything else you can think of back here.
Along the river, we came across an unusual looking fallen tree.  As we looked closer it appeared to be upside down.  Sure enough, way up in the treetops we could see where it came from.  This piece of the tree was probably a little over 10 feet tall, and it was a relatively small piece of the tree that it came from.
The forest around this part of the river is different than most of the other areas around Central Florida.  There is almost no undergrowth, other than grass, making it look almost as open as a park.
Forest Panorama
The river water levels are down quite a bit from their seasonal highs, and we could see where the river re-flooded the swamps and ponds nearby.
Swamp Panorama
But right now the water levels are lower, and the river is calm, and other than two boaters that passed by, we had it all to ourselves this afternoon.
River Panorama
The last yellow blazeWith such beautiful scenery on such a pretty day, we were anxious to make it to the Culpepper Shelter, which was only about a mile away from where we came up on the last yellow blaze.  From here we looked everywhere we could for the next blaze; we even backtracked to see if we could see a second one from a different perspective. 
Muck walkin 2Well, we had no luck with that, so we continued a little further along and found that the trail got very boggy.  I decided to forge ahead to see if I could find the next blaze in the flooded plain, so Tina stayed behind on dry land while I put on my Overshoes and went muck walkin’.  I wet out to the palm trees out in the distance, and I could see a trail that looked like it continued on along the direction we wanted to go, but I couldn’t see any blazes.  When I got back, we decided to call this the end of the trail for this trip.  Tina wasn’t interested in trading the overshoes back and forth between wet spots, and I wasn’t sure how far we’d be able to get and if we would be forced to back anyway.
Lunchtime viewSo instead of making it all the way to the shelter, we found a spot along the river to have lunch.  Our plan is to come back in January or February when the water levels are a little lower yet.  Cul Pepper Shelter has become a quest, and we’ll get there sooner or later.
On the way back, we took a few more photos.  A couple of them were a case of an idea not translating well to a picture.  I found a stick on the ground with a pretty big air plant growing on it.  It looked like a green torch.  I showed it to Tina and she had me pose with it as if I was searching for something.  The first picture came out looking like I was saluting it, and the second one looked like I was trying to feed a dinosaur.  They both gave us a good chuckle, so I had to include them here.
As always – if you would like to see the technical details of the trip, click on the “Trip Details” link below the map.
Swamp by the trail
Downriver
Muck walkin
Oak & Palm over river
Oak Bark
Air plants
Salute the green fire
Feeding a dinosaur
Old oak over river

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