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

Henry David Thoreau

Wet to Dry Trail

Saturday April 2, 2016                                                       Most Recent Posts:
Wekiwa Springs State Park                                                    Early Morning Kayak Up the Rock Spring Run
Apopka, Florida                                                                     Kayaking the WekiVA from the WekiWA

 

 

It’s Saturday so I’m not going out on the river today.  Even yesterday was too many people.  Instead I take an early morning hike over to the spring on what is known as the Wet to Dry Trail.  I’m walking it from Dry at the campground to Wet at the spring.  The dry section is the Long Leaf pine habitat that I’ve talked about in previous posts from Silver Springs.   This habitat once covered the entire southeast but is now rare with serious attempts at restoration which require fire.

The first section from the campground to the road has not been burned recently.  It is the home of white tailed deer and gopher tortoises although I don’t see either this morning.   I do see fledgling pines and big cones.

 

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Hard to imagine that this little tree will some day make these big cones.

 

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When I get to the park road, I find I’m not the only one wanting to cross over.   This fella had two girls he was constantly trying to impress.

 

 

The other side of the road shows that this dry trail is marked with both orange and white trail markers.  The white is the main park trail which is 13.5 miles long.  The orange is a 5.3 mile hike that I’m interested in hiking maybe tomorrow.  This section has obviously had a recent burn.

 

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But the ferns are jumping up all over the place.  In a month this area will look totally different.  So many plants respond very positively to fire.

 

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I’m getting closer to the “wet” part of the trail when I see the area is not burned.   The habitat here is different.  It is a hardwood hammock with bromeliads, reptiles and amphibians.

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Wetter still is the area requiring a boardwalk to hike through it.  I leave the sandy trail and walk further into the forest.

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The boardwalk takes me right to the spring which unfortunately is blocked by this totally ugly orange net fencing.  It appears a piece of the cement walkway has cracked and has yet to be repaired.

 

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I’m very surprised to see a swimmer out this early in the morning.   He and I are the only ones here.  The color of the spring water is just wonderful.

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At one point I can look down just to the edge of the boat launch in the far distance.  No one is on the water.

 

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Turns out there are two swimmers, a man and a woman and they appear to be swimming around and around the spring doing various strokes.  They are both very fine strong swimmers.  I really admire that ability.  I can swim but I could use some serious stroke evaluation.

 

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We all hear the thunder which is Florida’s serious warning that rain is imminent.   They get out of the water and I head back down the trail at a hustle since I have nothing to protect my camera.  

 

 

 

I make it back before the down pour.  David is up now.  Time for breakfast.

 

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Once it stops raining in the afternoon we both walk back down the same trail to the spring.  We don’t take our suits knowing that there will be more people there than we enjoy but it’s good to be outside and few people walk from the spring to the campground.  For reasons I don’t understand, most campers drive over.

 

Walking the campground road to the trail we come upon a mass of mistletoe that has apprently been blown out of the tree in the storm.   Too bad it isn’t Yuletide.

Wonder who will eat the berries?

 

 

 

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On the way we see things I didn’t see just this morning.

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The burned palmetto is already putting out its new “flowers”.  To look at that black you would think the plant would have to be dead.

 

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We both commented that the burned fronds remind us of Native American art.

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Along the boardwalk I spy jack in the pulpit.  This early spring ephemeral is common in the eastern mountains but I never expected to see it here.

 

 

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More interesting fungi at our feet.

 

 

As we expected, the crowds return after the rain.  They pour in down the hill from the parking lot.  We watch for a while and then head back.

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More interesting things on that same section of trail I have walked 4 times today.  Racking up the steps.

 

Many of the palmetto fronds are burned down only so far and then the green remains.  In time, the brown will fall off and a strange little green fan trimmed in yellow will remain.

 

Boy were we surprised to see such an attack of this grass.  Any entomologists out there who can tell us who these guys are?

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And even stranger a slightly different looking group all over this dead frond.

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Once we cross the road to the trail to the campground we see another gopher tortoise having lunch?  Dinner?  Maybe they just eat all the time.  It’s amazing that s/he doesn’t seem to care that we are standing right there watching those chomping jaws.

 

I can’t get a picture of the chewing action going on here but look at that tongue.

 

The rarest thing we’ve seen today is this.  I can imagine Alaskans see a lot of Florida plates among others since I’ve been hearing lots of RVers talking about going there.  But I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Alaska plate in Florida.  

Just goes to show you can walk a good trail many times in the course of one day and always see something new and even unusual.

 

26 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for commenting Flowergirl. It's always nice to know who is reading and traveling along with me.

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  2. Great post as usual... here in Melbourne Florida at Wickham Park there is a stand of the l longleaf pine... the covers most of the area that is used daily by people and consequently there is no brush around nothing to burn and I fear that this might be the last stand here ... I have seen some really giant pine cones unbelievable...

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    1. Donna, that's very sad about your long leaf. I think the trees there will continue but there won't be any new little pines without fire or planting. It's amazing to think that they once filled the eastern coastline and west to the piedmont for miles.

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  3. Just a guess, but those tiny grasshoppers look like new hatchlings (hence all together at the start of life) looking for a place to hide so as not to be breakfast to some small bird. Other than color, both species appear to be the same. Cool!

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  4. That's a lot of bugs in one place.

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    1. Hi Jan, That's how we noticed them. So many.

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  5. Must be spring if the turkeys are mating. Fire is healthy for a forest even if we don't like to see the char. The fungis indicate a healthy forest. I remember Jack-in-the-pulpit from IL and WI. Wonder if those are locusts.

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    Replies
    1. Yes fire is very healthy as I'm sure you try to tell everyone at the Grand Canyon. It's sad though in forests that do not regenerate so quickly as in Shenandoah National Park where a fire started by a careless camper has now reached 8000 acres and jumped across the Skyline Drive.

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  6. You got my curiosity up and I had to Google it. Looks like those are young eastern lubber grasshoppers.

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    1. Thanks for doing my homework for me. Looks like Florida naturalist Paula agrees with you. Always good to hear from you.

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  7. The grasshoppers are Eastern Lubber grasshoppers. The black ones are nymphs, and the brown looking ones have molted the black shells and are on their way to adulthood.

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    1. Thanks Paula I was hoping you would be reading as I figured you might know. I always look forward to your comments.

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  8. Great post and love the photos of the grasshopper:o)) As a kid we saw Jack-in-the Pulpits all the time. Now they seem to be a rare occurrence!!

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    1. I was very surprised to see them here. Somehow I never think of Florida as having the eastern ephemeral wildflowers. I wonder how many trillium I've missed?

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  9. What a beautiful landscape. The tortoise is quite a critter. We do see Jack In the Pulpits here, but I wonder if this area is around the northern limits for them.

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  10. Don't know about his partners, but the turkey impressed me :-) Seeing all that green emerging from the burn is such a great visual of rebirth. Even the art of the burned fronds is a gift when one takes the moment to see it. I love that the same path can share so many different attractions depending on the time, the weather, the direction, even the height - wonderful to see. Grasshoppers freak me out, and those little guys are really creepy looking. The tortoise makes up for them though, definitely a favorite!

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  11. The contrast between the dry and wet areas is striking. I think I would prefer the plant life of the wet, but they are both beautiful. I hope those bugs aren't the 17 year locusts! I hope to get in and out of NY before they migrate that far north.

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  12. Before I read all the comments I was thinking they were some kind of cricket. Glad there is a wealth of information from your commenters:)

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  13. Glad those grasshoppers are outside and not in my motorhome. I fight off enough bugs as it is! ;c)

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  14. I saw the same tom turkey and his ladies! I stopped for a few photos after class and was able to see some Sherman's fox squirrels, too.

    I'll be back in the park for class on Tuesday if you're still going to be there!

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  15. Such an amazing transition from the landscape of the long leaf pines to the lushness of the hardwood hammock. And the gorgeous spring, of course. Lovely photo of the jack-in-the-pulpit -- I've never seen it in Florida!

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  16. The green frond with yellow trimmings is such a beauty that came out of a fire and a great shot.
    Ewe...I get freaked out to see those many grasshoppers.

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  17. Just getting my blog reading caught up, I've enjoyed reading about all of your kayaking, little hard to find much water in the desert. Looks like you've been enjoying your winter. Alaska plates here are pretty regular, wonder how many VT plates we'll see there this summer.

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  18. Catching up with blog-land. Hope you guys are doing well.

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  19. Neat how life springs back from fire!! Beautiful. The water there is such a neat color...I, too, admire strong swimmers. Lovely walk for sure each time!

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