Monday February 8, 2016 Most Recent Post:
Highlands Hammock State Park HAPPY BIRTHDAY CARRIE!! and Moving On to Highlands
Sebring Florida Kayaking the Myakka River
Over the week-end we’ve been watching an unusual number of little Scamp trailers come into the park along with some other 13-21’ models. Today we learn that we are in the middle of “Scamp Camp”. Apparently it happens here every year about this time.
The Scampers are a very friendly group and love to talk about their Scamps. They invite us to attend their open house on Wednesday and I think we will take them up on it just for fun. They have lots of activities planned. They gave us a schedule and told us to come on and join them. A really friendly bunch.
Given how much Flat Stanley gets around we were not suprised to see him with them. He’s grown quite a bit since the last time I saw him. He was in charge of the activities board and seems to be wearing his Scamp Camp badge with pride.
There are Scamps everywhere we look along with other “egg type” trailers, the Casita, the Escape and the Love Bug among them.
We are headed down the road on our way to hike the Big Oak Trail when we meet Josie and Craig who are here at Scamp Camp and tell us all about it. Craig is the one who gets us a schedule and tells us to join right in. I laugh saying we could put two of those 16’ Scamps in what now feels like a giant Winnona. We chat for a long time about the mods Craig has done and how they met each other after each of them was widowed. It really is a sweet story and we enjoy our time with them
In fact, we spend so long talking that it’s lunch time so we turn around and go back for lunch at the rig before heading out again on our hike.
We take the lovely campground road out to a nice boardwalk cut through to the main road where we cross over to find our first trailhead.
We plan to take the Wild Orange Grove Trail from behind what used to be the Hihlands Inn which had Wild Orange Ice Cream. Really would like to have a Wild Orange Milk Shake but alas it is not to be. And it wasn’t to be that we would take the Wild Orange Grove Trail over to the big Oak Trail either.
We reach the trail head and see a saw horse in the distance. We reach it and read the sign. Notice that David is on the back side of the sign. He says “It looks fine to me”.
So on we go and it does look fine.
And then at the bridge we see the water is almost up to the top.
We aren’t prepared for the muddy conditions.
David has on his sneakers and I have on my close toed oofos
so we turn around and go back to the rig for our hiking boots just in case we encounter more of the same. We decide we bike down to the Big Oak Trail rather than walk down the road. Our original intended route is outlined in yellow here but we had to cut off the wild orange part of it and start at the campground road with the Big Oak Trail.
For the third time we set out on this hike. This time on our bikes.
We definitely find big trees. These are some of the largest Live Oaks we’ve seen in any park in Florida.
We hike the Big Oak Trail circle around and then take the cut off to the Hickory Trail stopping to check out more big trees on the way.
David gets side tracked at several points on both the Big Oak and Hickory Trails. There are wild orange and grapefruit trees in the woods. Most are back a ways into the hammock but he sneaks in to see if there are any fruits on the ground that he might pick up. Most of the ones on the tree are out of reach.
The trees obviously do not want you climbing up to pick the fruit. Take a look at these thorns. WOW!
However, there is one orange hanging down where IF you can balance on a low branch and hold on around the thorns, you could grab it. Since I am lighter and becasue of yoga have a bit better banace, I volunteer to get this one for him hoping he’ll stop constantly scanning the tree tops for fruit.
Well that was a ridiculous thought on my part. He comes upon a grapefruit tree that some animal has gotten to first and torn all the fruits but one open and cleaned out most of them. But David finds that one to take with him now that he’s eaten his bitter orange.
We’re half way along the hikory trail. He’s still carrying his orange to eat back home he says.
There are big oaks on the Hickory Trail as well.
He lasts about a half an hour and I look back and he’s opened the grapefruit. He notices that it has a lot more and a lot bigger seeds than the ones in the grocery store. When he tries it, he says it’s also a lot sweeter than the dometic variety as well.
I’m not a grapefruit lover since I really don’t like sour or bitter tastes. I’m hesitant to try this one since David’s palate is very different from mine – he likes both beer and coffee for instance. But, I try a very small bite and he’s right. I wouldn’t call it sweet but it is definitely the sweetest grapefruit I’ve ever tasted and if it were served to me on a plate where I wouldn’t have the juice running down my arm, I would eat it. These wild fruits are really juicy. Perhaps it’s this year with all the rain or perhaps it’s just the wildness of the fruits themselves.
Back to the Big Trees I thought we’d come to see. How do these oaks continue to live when their entire inside is burned out? What amazing trees!
We have to cross the park road to continue on the Hickory Trail to meet up with the Fern Garden Trail.
The Fern Garden Trail too has a boardwalk.
All this rain has been great for the ferns.
Off the boardwalk we cut up to the Richard Lieber Trail and find more big trees. Not sure how one trail got to be called the Big Oak Trail when there seem to be Big Oaks on every trail. Guess that’s what you find in an area that has been protected for a long time even prior to its becoming a park.
Although it may not seem like it, we actually don’t stop to take a picture of every single Big Tree we come upon.
Back on the Fern Garden Trail boardwalk, before we turn back, I want to go out to one little spot that is a favorite of mine.
It’s a dead end that not everyone finds. Early in the morning, it is a sweet spot with benches on either end of the T.
We stay for a while, enjoying the quiet, the swamp waters, the tiny flowers and no bugs. Even with all the rains and all the water, it seems either the cold temperatures or the increase in the mosquito fish – gotta love them – have kept the biters at bay. It’s a magical spot.
We retrace our steps back along the fern path, back along the boardwalk, back along the hickory trail, back along the Big Oak Trail to the bikes.
Good thing we had all day to just wander around and get a number of false starts before our lovely hike in the beautiful Highland Hammock. We couldn’t do any of this if we didn’t have Winnona waiting for us to return and willing to take us anywhere we have a mind to go.
What a great life!