Friday March 27, 2015
O’Leno State Park
High Springs, Florida
Because of the prediction of yet MORE rain, we decide to turn a longer hike we wanted to take into a shorter one by driving over to River Rise rather than walking over. Yes you can drive to River Rise but in my opinion it wouldn’t give you that same WOW feeling upon arrival.
In order to drive in, you must get the gate lock combination from the ranger’s station. The gate is left locked all the time although there is a low horse step over along the fence line which hikers could also use. River rise is used frequently by equestrians and there are signs indicating the rules for them at the gate. What a great way to see this park that would be.
We arrive, drive down the great old road and park just at hiking marker 23 which will leave us about 3/4 mile hike to the lake. This morning’s no rain window is smaller than usual. We set out on the trail but after we are out of sight of Ruby David thinks perhaps we should move her more over to the side in case any horses need to get by. I’m doubting anyone on a horse will come out with the rain predictions but it is still a considerate thing to do so we do. I took this picture of Ruby waiting for us before we moved her to the left. Nice parking spot though isn’t it? Sure wish they’d let Winnona Boondock here.
It’s another lovely trail through the woods where the birds are singing beautifully and I find lots of little things to enjoy.
I’m not good with these moth looking butterflies or butterfly looking moths so if you are, let me know who these two are.
There is no clear path visible from the trail for the turn to Black Lake so if you aren’t watching, you could miss it.
We decide to try to circumnavigate the lake although there is no clear path to do so. If it gets too sketchy, we’ll just turn around.
Ok now what about the swamp? There are some great cypress trees.
Doesn’t this one look like it’s Pooh’s House. I’m knocking on his door but he’s not answering of course since he’s back with Winnona. That’s my rain jacket around my waist ‘just in case’.
David swears the knees are taller than I am so he takes these pictures to prove his point.
Even with my hat on, this one wins the height contest.
We’re definitely in the land of the knees
Seeing the rings on this tree, I’d say a Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker lives in this neck of the woods.
Big trees around the shore of this lake. We think this lake should be called Cypress Rim Lake rather than Black.
Yes that’s a blue line on this white mushroom at my feet. I have never seen blue on a mushroom before and have no idea what these are.
We’re on the opposite side of the lake from the entry way so it’s too late to turn back now.
Wow, on this impromptu trail we are seeing things we have never seen before. You really have to keep your eyes open. David spots this Walnut Sphinx moth hanging low on the tree. He’s outstanding!
We’ve reached the far end of the lake and the swamp. Now we need to walk across that little land bridge and head back up to the trail.
But where is the trail? Lots of palmetto to push through in what we think is the right direction.
Thumbs up. David’s found it! Now that was some real trail blazing!
And sure enough it starts spitting rain and we put our raincoats on. Or at least I do.
The rain is just a brief shower and when we are almost back to Ruby, we see this spot of yellow off through the woods on the right.
I’m guessing it’s golden groundsel but I’m not sure. It isn’t mustard and doesn’t look like ragwort.
Whatever it is, it’s prolific and makes a lovely end to our little hike to Black Lake.
It’s a short day for us and when we return, sure enough it pours rain again. We’ve actually done a good job of getting outside before or between the rains that have been predicted for nearly every day during our last week at O’Leno.
We have a delicious spaghetti dinner after which I race walk the yellow trail and finish off my 10K steps. I make it back in time to watch some Sweet 16 NCAA Basketball. The ACC Conference has a lot of teams in it this year but they are falling by the wayside. Elite 8 starts tomorrow. This is the first year we have really had a consistent TV signal to watch the tournament. It’s fun, especially with popcorn!