Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Around the Point and Back – Part II

Friday May 10, 2013
Site 33, Fort Pickens Campground
Gulf Islands National Seashore


If you haven’t read the beginning of our very full and fun Friday, you can do so HERE.  This post will make more sense if you do.



Our hike around the point turns into a beach cleanup walk.




In about 7 miles, We ultimately fill 4 bags of trash walking from the bay side around to the Gulf side of the island.  Some of the plastic is buried in sand and is a struggle to remove.  We find that the most numerous pieces of trash are of course cigarette butts and surprisingly plastic straws.


It does start sprinkling and the wind picks up considerably.  But no heavy rain.




When we reach the fort on the bay side, there are two fishing piers. On a normal day, this would mean many more people

Despite this large sign reminding of the tons of litter people dump in the oceans daily and the effects of plastic in particular upon sea life, it’s clear the the density of trash increases in this vicinity.  The sign indicates the we can help by putting all trash in trash cans. Says it clearly in the little box at the bottom.  It’s the first line.  Click the picture and read it yourself.

But we have seen no trashcans anywhere along or near any of the beach entries including the one right by this sign.  We have go up the stairs to the fort and across the parking lot to empty our bag into the dumpster so we can continue our collection.  I’m pretty disappointed about this.


The beach clean up leads me to the official beginning of the Florida Trail.




On our way back to the beach I see the sign for the beginning of the Florida Trail.  BINGO!   I’ve got it.  Pictures of the beginning and the end.  I’ve always had a fascination with and a desire to through hike the AT so all the National Trails are very exciting to me.  Unlike the Appalachian Trail or even the Pacific Crest, there are not tons of memoirs written about through hikes of this trail.  Actually only one that I know of.


Another friend seems to be doing well despite a disability.

As we approach the point where the Gulf and Bay meet and the location of the only rocks we see along the shore, we also see this footless Great Blue.  Amazing how nature can adapt.  Two fisherwomen have been giving handouts.  I’ll bet many folks fishing do.





As we reach the island’s point, we see the narrow entry into Pensacola Bay. 

Fort Pickens is on one coast and Fort McKee was on the other shore in the distance which is Perdido Key.  Together they could easily defend the entry to the Bay.  That is until the Civil War when the confederates too Fort McKee and the Union bombed it into oblivion to keep them from taking Fort Pickens.  Nature has taken care of the rubble.

The waves are now coming in on an angle as the Gulf waters flow into the bay.




With the increased wind, the waves are pretty rough but these two are riding them like cowboys and diving for dinner.  I think they are mergansers.  Anyone know for sure??





The Gulf beach is very wide and flat with small tidal pools.  Just a storybook looking beach with some of nature’s most beautiful patterns made by the waves in the wet sand.







At one point there is a lone palm on the shore.  I don’t believe I have seen one other palm here.  So it really stands out.



Soon,  we come to my very favorite section of the beach on either side of the point.  In a sharp curve, the dune comes nearly down to the water line which is sad since soon it will be taken by the sea but today is really lovely.   One of my buddies makes it an even more perfect sight.




He stays long enough for me to get a series of great shots of him which I won’t post here since there are already SO many pictures.  But then he goes on his way.



One more shot of the dunes from the other direction.  I just love this spot. It takes my breath away.  Looks like paradise to me.




The wind has really picked up and David is well armed as we approach the shore’s WWII defense systems.   That’s some gun pointing right at you as you walk by. 







We continue on down the beach.  The wind continues too.  The sea oats are seriously bending backwards as I find the boardwalk back to the campsite where 7 miles of trash pick up goes in the dumpster.







Later in the afternoon when the wind dies down we go over to the beach to read and relax.  My friend stops by to visit.  Well actually he comes walking down the beach, takes a look at me and keeps right on going.   He sure makes me smile!









It has turned out to be a fine day despite the dire predictions.  Yes it rained and yes the wind was pretty brutal but we have an excellent time anyway and feel good about leaving the beach a little cleaner than when we arrived.  It’s the least I can do for all the joy it gives me.  And I don’t want any of my friends to be hurt by plastic and other debris left around.

Sadly, there is no visible sunset.  The sun has been totally blocked out all day.

Tomorrow is our last day here.  So we’ll see what it brings.  I know David wants to go to the museum at the fort and to take the tour.  I’d like to see the exhibits on the natural history of the seashore and the information on the stay of Geronimo and the other Chiricahua Apaches in 1886.

The weatherman says THUNDER storms.  We’ll see.





  1. Wasn't the walk glorious!? We encountered trash as well, but didn't think to bring something with us to pick it up with. Your friend cracks me up :)

  2. Ft Pickens was awesome. Have read different books on Geronimo. Standing there just could not imagine what they thought of their captivity... and that place... it is beautiful, but that is not why they were there.. very sad chapter in US History...
    Once again love your pictures.... you guys are so wonderful to pick up litter!!

  3. Mother Nature giveth ... Mother Nature taketh away. That's the cycle. I see you met my 1-legged GBH friend. I spent several hours sitting with him late one afternoon. Despite his handicap, he was quite resourceful in getting his own meal from the bounty of the bay.

  4. Thank you for picking up trash on your 7 mile walk. It really hurts to see how unthinking and uncaring so many people can be. I belong to an AT mailing list and I know every now and then someone posts about doing the Florida Trail. Also, Whiteblaze.com has journals posted for just about every long distance trail in the country, and I would think Florida would be well represented. Haven't been to that site for a long while though.

  5. It is painful to see so much trash in such an amazingly beautiful place, or anywhere. Thank you picking it up. That was a long hike on sand. You both must have strong calf muscles.

  6. Lovely hike and you two made it even lovier for others by picking up all that trash!! Love all your GBH friends!! Wonder how he lost his foot??

  7. Your friend's pictures were amazing. I think he had to walk by to see if it really was you sitting on the beach. :c)

    When we lived on the beach years ago, we'd have occasional bay side beach clean up days. The beach would look good until the next high tide, it didn't seem like anything was done. Most of the trash was washed down from NYC and the Hudson River. Too often, there were hypodermic needles. Broke my heart to see so much trash.

    Kudos to you for picking up the trash and making a small, but important contribution to protecting the wildlife that suffers from it.

  8. Hope it doesn't rain too hard on your parade today. Enjoy your last day. I have a feeling you'll be back :)

  9. I've always been fascinated by trails, too, especially the AT. I didn't know about the Continental Divide Trail (2700 miles?) until I picked up those hitchhikers.

  10. Thanks for doing your part in cleaning up our wild places. It always amazes me the amount of trash that people carelessly discard.

  11. What a full day. We have had the same problem a number of times, finding trash lying about and absolutely no trash cans to be seen. Good on you two to take the time to clean up the beach.

    Love your pictures. That special spot of yours with the curve in the bay and the one of the bird flying are fantastic.


  12. That is a beautiful beach!!

  13. Unbelievable that they do not have trash cans so people are more likely to not use the beach as their trash can. I guess no one wants to be responsible and check on them. I am glad you did a good deed and collected some of those thoughtless people's ruffage. Gorgeous beach - sand swirls and blue/green waters. Love the pictures of your beach side companion!!

  14. Good on you for helping to clean up the beach. It is a beautiful beach.

  15. Those of us who treasure the beautiful places this country has to offer are always angered by those who are careless and abusive. When I used to walk Jack down to the nature center every day, I always took a bag for trash and extra "poop bags". This is not a huge place mind you, but the only respite in the area to get away from traffic and noise to a degree. Why would people who live here and use it, destroy it? I think it's a question I'll always ask myself. It's mostly an area that girl scouts and boy scouts and dog walkers use so why woul anyone not pick up after their dog, but you'd be amazed. I keep my eye on Jack's behind and even go off into areas covered by leaves, etc, to look for his poop! (I know, I'm odd) Children run and play and learn to love nature in this little piece of quiet. Stepping in poop doesn't endear them to it.

    There's a picnic area, too. Well, you carried your stuff in, folks, why not carry it out?

    Sherry, you could never post too many pictures. I love seeing them. You're getting better and better at photography.

  16. Kudos to you guys for picking up all that trash. It's a shame trash cans aren't provided, but that's still no excuse.

    Cute pics of your buddy walking by.

  17. The Gulf beaches just look so....inviting....and relaxing. I love the ocean, grew up on the Pacific, the Oregon Coast is beautiful, but it is wild and rough and cold and windy and....not.....relaxing. Which is why I have to get back to the Gulf. I'll remember the garbage bags.


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