Friday, June 06, 2014

Hiking Tosohatchee WMA - Myrtle Point balloon trail

This hike was a balloon trail that included the Myrtle Point Trail, Blues Head, and the Florida Trail.  I started off today's hike at the youth camp.  It's a pretty nice primitive camping and picnic area.  There are a couple of other trails that branch off from here, so I'll be back.  The road to get here is well maintained gravel, and it's not too far off the main dirt road (which is also very well maintained).
Information Kiosk - Panel 1 Information Kiosk - Panel 2 Information Kiosk - Panel 3 Youth Camp Parking
A short walk from the camp took me to the trail head.  Most of this trail is an old forest road that has been converted into a combination horse / hiking trail.  The red blazes along the way are up specifically for equestrians.

The flowers are blooming nicely in this area, and they smell wonderful.  Between the flowers and the palm trees, it was a great day to just enjoy the odors.  I really do need to learn a little bit more about recognizing plants by name... for these photos, I just called 'em like I saw 'em.
Myrtle Point Trailhead
Blue Flowers
Red Flowers
White Flowers
Clouds over Big Blue
I did try to do a little geocaching today, but I couldn't find the one (Pine and Palmetto) that I was looking for.  After I got home, I looked at the geocaching website and realized I was looking down, when I should have been looking up.  Oh well, maybe another day.

Lunch time hit at about the time that passed through the grasslands and arrived at the Myrtle Point / Blues Head trail junction.  I did get a nice picture of the clouds over Big Blue Cypress Mound after I was done eating.  From there is was back into the woods. 
In this part of the woods, I saw a plant that I don't think I've seen before.  It looked like grass growing on palm trees.  Long and straight - almost like green hair.  (I later learned that this is called a “shoelace fern”).

I almost missed the junction to the Florida Trail,  but it was pretty obvious from the "guide trip" that I was using.  I quickly turned around and got back on the orange blazed trails.  This part of the Florida Trail is blazed exceptionally well.  It is also reasonably well traveled, so it is also very easy to follow.  I could pretty much always see the next blaze from the each one I approached.
Grassy Palm
Dead Tree
In addition to things like "prehistoric ferns" and other interesting flora, I also came upon a dead tree that was still standing.  It caught my eye because of the way the bark had fallen away.  When I poked it with my hiking stick, I found that the wood had decayed by about 2 inches deep all the way around.  That means that the whole tree is standing with only about 2 inches of "solid" wood left.

The weather for today's hike was fine except for about the last couple of hours.  During the early afternoon there were cool breezes blowing, but by about 2:00 or so, it was just plain hot.  When I finally got back to the truck, my thermometer said 99 degrees. 

It looks like I'll be doing some shorter hikes until the cooler season gets here.  I read on Tom Choma’s Wikiloc blog that this loop floods if the river is high.  Since tomorrow looks like it is supposed to kick off a rainy week, I wanted to get this hike in before the wet weather.  It's easy to see how low the water levels are right now - dry areas that should be swampy, cypress knees growing in other dry areas are just a couple of indications that we need some rain.

Click on the “Trip Details” link at the bottom of this post to see the rest or to download the KML file.
Trail View
Ground getting moist here
Racoon print
Missed Geocache
Bear Print
Trail Junction
Back to woods
Spot to rest
Gnarly oak
Another trail view
Florida Trail - Orange blazes
Prehistoric Ferns
Big gnarly oak
Fallen tree in the sun
Palm forest
Florida Trail North Junction
Dry Swamp

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