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

Henry David Thoreau

Airheads Hiking in the Rain

Monday March 23, 2015
O’Leno State Park
High Springs, Florida


Yes, I’m behind again but in one fell swoop I’ll get caught up right now.





Today is one of those stay home week-end days.  We let the Week-end Warriors have it.  I do go out in the morning and walk the River Trail and then the spur beyond the bridge.  I have a sweet secret spot that I like to go to where there is a place to sit and just be.  Well at least I think it’s secret since I’ve never found anyone there or near there when I’ve gone but that could be just serendipity.

Because the little town of High Springs is located near many parks, springs and rivers and it is a beautiful day, we think everyone will be outside on the water.  Therefore, we go to the only grocery store in town, Winn Dixie.  We are right, the crowds are thin at the grocery which grocery turns out to be much more than we expected of both Winn Dixie and High Springs.  We are able to get organic produce and many of the other things we had not thought we could pick up.  We are especially glad since we were hiking to River Rise on Thursday when High Springs Farmer’s Market occurs.  I stupidly assumed it would be on Saturday but didn’t check until Friday.   Note to self:  check markets the FIRST day you arrive.

We had thought we would spend a relaxing day sitting outside on our lovely patio reading but yesterday a motor home pulled in and they apparently keep all their windows closed and run their very very noisy fan 24/7.   It seems much louder on our side of their coach than it does on their patio side.   I just don’t get it.  The weather is perfect.  Open your windows, turn off your motors.  Listen to the birds.  Oh well……….

This evening we watch the other ACC teams who made it to the NCAA tournament and whose games were being broadcast on CBS which we can get here.  We don’t have cable so we had to listen to a great game that put UNC into the Sweet 16 since it was on one of the Turner stations.   Haven’t listened to basketball on the radio in a long time.  Those guys really do paint a picture of the game


SUNDAY March 22



This morning I walked both the yellow and green trails for a total of 12,151 steps.  I was going for the aerobics so I didn’t take a camera but there were some lovely spots along one section of the Green Trail so perhaps tomorrow we’ll go back and redo it and I’ll take the camera.

I get back in time to see the #2 Virginia Cavaliers play horribly and lose to the #7 Michigan State Spartans who are always a scrappy tough team. I think they are under rated every year.  Off the Spartans go to the Sweet 16.  Where they will join UNC and #1 Duke who beat #8 San Diego State handily.

I quit avoiding the facts and cancelled 3 of the parks we had hoped to visit before returning to Virginia.  We have to be back two weeks before originally planned so we won’t get to go to Blackwater River, Three Rivers or Suwannee River State Parks.



MONDAY  March 23

I go out early to walk the yellow trail before breakfast and stop by to talk to Beth Hill who is traveling in her Forest River Siesta with her Calico Cat Calli.  We have a nice discussion about her journey to traveling solo.

After breakfast David and I consider our options.  The warriors are gone.  What shall we do?  We know there is an 80% chance of rain today so we don’t do one of the other kayak paddles we wanted to do.  We know that the rain is predicted to start at 2:00 (60%) and increase to Thunderstorms by 3:00 (85%).   But we think we can get a hike in around the Paraner’s Branch  trail. 


We start out on the yellow trail which leads to the trail head for Paraner’s (aka Green from its green markers).  This will be a nice leisurely hike so I take my camera.  The first thing we notice right along the trail is a young American Fringe Tree in bloom.  The tassel like blooms are numerous and hang in showy clusters giving it an airy, delicate look. Those are the two pictures above.

Just beyond the Fringe Tree we spot an alligator slowly moseying down the Santa Fe River.  See him approaching the tree’s reflection?





We are perhaps 3/4 of a mile along.  What’s that in the water you ask?  We haven’t gone even a quarter of the way to the Green Trail Head when it starts to sprinkle.  It’s only a sprinkle, doesn’t last long.  Hmmm, raincoats are now a mile away.  The sprinkles stop.  We continue on.  It starts to sprinkle again.   We hang out under a tree and the rain doesn’t last long this time either.  The sun comes out.  That big faker.  On we go



We reach the Paraner’s Trail Head.  Not too far beyond on the right is Ogden Lake one of those hidden surprise lakes on the land bridge that rises and falls with the river.  Looking lovely today.  One of the many wonderful places on the trails in this park to sit and BE in the natural world.




And then…………..






We wait it out under a tree and when it lightens up we walk on thinking it’s another one of those little short rainy things and the sun will come out any minute.  It is and it does.  Too late for the raincoats and the camera case unless we scrap the hike and turn back now.

O’Leno State Park’s habitat is fire dependent and so they do regular prescribed burns.  We come on several sections of these at various points on the trail.  The never say die attitude of these little pine trees is nothing short of inspiring.

Notice the bit of blue sky.  Things are looking up.  Whew……





Although we have not been told this, many of the trails in the park, including this one, appear to be old roads left over from the days of the town.  

One reason I haven’t wanted to turn back yet is my desire to get a picture of some ephemeral Lilies I saw just off this section of the trail when I race walked it yesterday.   We’ve been keeping our eyes out and finally spot them.  Can you see them in the picture to the right?

They are a short distance off the trail in front of a towering Live Oak.  They are growing right up out of the ground with no leaves.  I’m guessing they are some sort of ephemeral and will disappear without a trace. But I can’t find any information on them.  I need a Florida Wildflower book obviously.  They are so pretty, just one little clump and a few singles out here all alone.  .  I think the rain drops enhance them.  They actually each look slightly different when you look at them closely and carefully.  While I take pictures of them, David goes over to visit the big tree.



UPDATE:  Thanks to Nancy Mills, I now know that these are Sephyr Lilies (aka Rein Lilies or Rain Lilies-pretty appropriate).  Clearly Google likes Nancy better. 



This one is my favorite.



Notice the size of David and the size of the tree.





Mission Accomplished!   We walk on.  Next stop is at a pond called New Sink.  Not sure how long ago “new” was.   We  foolishly approach the pond talking about the sun that disappeared AGAIN as the rain just started and seems to be picking up.  We scare off the alligator who was on the right bank.  We hear the big splash and I catch a quick picture of him as he swims across the pond and through the plants to the other side where he can have some peace and quiet.  Or maybe it wasn’t us, maybe it was the raindrops and he’s seeking shelter.  No shelter for us other than under the leaves of the trees.








I take a zoomed in picture so you can see the amount of rain. Getting pretty serious.  It increases.  Our clothes begin to get wet.  Our tree protection is failing us.





Originally, I had thought we would be able to stop at Paraner’s Branch, for which the green trail is named and spend some time on the lovely bench they have there. You know, quiet contemplative spot by the water.  Good for soothing the soul.  The rain has lightened up and we sit on the two ends of the bench since the middle is wet. For about two minutes,  I take some pictures.  More rain.  We go on. 







Our next stop at  Jim Sink  will be our last one. Enough rain.   I wonder who is Jim and why name a sink after him? 

We are half way around the 5 mile combination yellow/green trail.  The last half was muddy yesterday from the rain the day before so given the situation we decide to just turn around and walk back the way we have come and hope to beat any big thunderstorm that might be thinking about showing up.  They did mention thunderstorms, right?





All the way back it rains steadily.  Our clothes are getting damp.  We hustle along, taking no pictures, at the fastest clip David can go with his increasingly low hemoglobin and red blood counts. 



We move from the Green Trail to the yellow and when we reach a covered deck along the river on the yellow trail we stop to see if the now steady rain is going to let up any.  We still have at least a half mile or more up hill to get back to Winnona.







It does seem to lighten up some so we decide that David will keep the camera and the binoculars and since I can run, I will run back to Winnona and bring raincoats, an umbrella and Ruby for him and them to come back in.



Now you know what is going to happen don’t you?  I no sooner set out than the skies open up and I’m running through a downpour.  The rain is so hard and so fast that the trail fills with water and so do the roads.  No running in this.  I’m walking ankle deep in water.  The thunder is cracking.

By the time I get back to Winnona I am soaked to the skin.  I wring my clothes out when I take them off.   I wish I could have had a picture of what a drowned rat I looked like.  It was as if I had been pushed into a swimming pool fully clothed, shoes and all.

I get the raincoats and Ruby and drive to the day use parking lot at the trail head and walk back the trail where David has passed the time by taking pictures from under his shelter of just how hard it is raining.  LOL






He takes a picture of  the direction I went.    And lots of pictures of the rain.  Looks very pretty from where he sits.  Thank goodness it is in the mid 70’s.









Of course when I get out of the car in the parking lot is when I find I’ve forgotten the umbrella but at least I did bring his best raincoat.  And also of course, the rain has let up and is no longer pouring down.  Still, my new dry shorts get wet on the walk back to the car.

Here’s the cavalry come to the rescue.  I have his raincoat under my arm.  And of course, no umbrella.  Notice the oofos and quick dry shorts.  I learn quickly.  I just don’t seem to remember what I learn. Winking smile






When we get back we find that a river has been flowing from the road, down the drive to our site, over our patio mat and  collecting in a lake behind Winnona.  Is this waterfront property?  Could we turn the fire pit into a hot tub??




No damage appears to be done to persons, clothing, camera or binoculars.  The take home message is “be prepared”. 

The real question is why didn’t we take raincoats with us ‘just in case’. We know the weather people are just guessing.  But off we went merrily on our way. No raincoats, no camera bag, no binoculars case and no water. Can you say airheads? How many years have we been hiking? Spur of the moment isn’t working so well these days.

My Girl Scout Leader would be appalled.


  1. Looks like a great walk despite the rain. Of course, I cannot help recalling my mother telling me, when I returned from a hike thru our farm fields soaked to the skin, that some people are not smart enough to get out of the rain. I never really bought in to that:)

  2. I sure was relating to this post since we came from South Carolina back here to Texas in rain, rain, rain, rain! I looked and felt like a drowned rat/cat/marsupial for about a week of overnight stops. Hope sunny skies appear for you again tomorrow!

  3. Well, it might have been aggravating for you, Sherry, but it gave me a good laugh. I can just imagine David sitting there as you ran off in a downpour. I really can't believe that y'all didn't take your coats. Thanks for the laugh!!!

  4. Sometimes, to make life more interesting, you have to go for it and live life on the edge. Besides, think of how many times those weather guessers have been wrong. You would have missed out on a great adventure, even if it was a little soggy. ;c)

  5. I keep one of those grocery veggie bags folded in my camera strap. My camera will fit inside and stay dry, yet the strap gets wet. Great pics of a wet walk.

  6. That's a beautiful hike, but I wouldn't want to be slogging through it in a downpour. However, it does make for a fun story! Is your Girl Scout leader reading your blog? :-)

  7. It was a beautiful hike! And there that wonderful shelter was for you and David to take cover and watch a spring downpour! I love the smell of the Florida woods after a good rain fall.....and it looked like a perfect day and place for enjoying the gift of rain!

  8. This post just made me SMILE and LOL:o))) You were like to kids just out enjoying life!!! Something so fun about walking in the rain...it's only water;o)) Kind of like breaking the rules... I do think we do to much planning at times and we need to just go for it once in awhile!!! Heck of a way to get your clothes washed;-))

  9. I'm trying to muster some sympathy, I really am! But omg that was a very fun read :-) Anyone can hike that trail when it's dry...... The camera was a potential issue so I am glad that shelter was there for David to keep it dry - cute pics of the two of you. Love Sunday's Fringe tree and Monday's little lilys, both are so dainty for such a heavy jungle. Even at expanded size I could barely see the gator in the reflection, you must have great eyes or he was making some noise! We head out for NM this morning :-)))

  10. It's a good thing the temps are in the 70's when you get caught in a storm like that! I think the stress you are under lately is as good an excuse as any for forgetting the rain gear! Lovely photos of a crazy day.

  11. What a downpour. The lilies are particularly lovely, and those gators are magnificent to see.

  12. Thank goodness it was warm out at least for your "swim" back to get the car. If you had been prepared, you know it wouldn't have rained:) We are slow learners at times:) But it does look like a great hike despite the rain. I love those little flowers. How strange that there are no leaves! Great find, Sherry:)

  13. Sometimes it is fun to be caught in the rain.

  14. No harm, no foul. Except for the weather. I don't mind walking in a gentle rain if it's warm but the camera is a different story. Those lilies are a special little treat along this delightful trail. Nice to find a spot to just BE.

  15. I agree, you guys enjoy life, rain OR shine! I'm trying to get caught up on blogs, blogging, and laundry as our house guests just left this morning. Ahh, to be back to 'normal'!

  16. Here in Sacramento we could really use that rain! The lilies are so pretty - I used to see flowers and mushrooms appear for a day in North Carolina, and then be totally gone the next. Of course I would take my camera back the next day and find absolutely nothing!

  17. You got soaked! I love the lilies and the tree. The rain on the water is very pretty too. I like the selfie of you and Dad. Nice of you to run for the rescue only to forget the umbrella. Not a big deal...those raincoats look like just what you needed! Fun read!

  18. As long as it is warm and not windy, I am fine with a walk in the rain. I am 'drip dry' after all. One of Rachel Carson's favorite times to walk. It was not the first time we've been caught in the rain, and I hope it is not the last. ;)

  19. We've been finding a lot of organic produce at our Winn Dixie down here as well. It surprised me since the ones in Tampa are horrible.

    Glad you only got soaked and didn't get hit by lightning. I don't mind getting wet, but I sure hate for my camera to get rained on.

    I finally got some Oofos after your recommendation and really like them. I just ordered some for Al this morning.

  20. I find your story amusing. We had had similar situations before and boy are we wet. My only concern when that happens is the camera getting wet. Nevertheless that was a beautiful hike with or without raincoats.


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