I gotta go where it’s warm

I gotta go where it’s warm

Now that all the fun and excess of Christmas has passed, it was time to make a pilgrimage south to leave winter behind in favor of sunshine, outdoor fun, and hopefully a manatee sighting or two.  Since last years trip to The Suwannee River was such fun, we decided to try it again. This time with a little less canoeing given the pups less that enthusiastic reaction to it last time.  We left North Carolina with its cold rainy weather at 3am in hopes of arriving to the promised land of sunshine and warmth by lunch time.  The rain slowed us down a little bit but since I slept through most of that while Graham drove I didn’t mind much.  I took over driving around Savannah and we hit the Florida line around 10am.  We were excited to find temperatures in the 70’s and the rain gone.Welcome to Florida

After getting the required orange juice stop out of the way, we were back in the car headed for our activity of the day, hiking in the Ocala national forest.  Graham had requested for us to do some backpacking this trip, but given that we were going during hunting season and had the pups with us we had to resort to day-hiking.  I found it a little difficult to find information about hiking trails in Florida,but finally had some good luck with the Florida hikes site. We decided to try to hike the Yearling trail which was supposed to hike through the remains of a settlement on an island.  The hike was a 5.5 mile loop but we had the option of adding miles by accessing it from the Florida trail that ran by our campground rather than drive to the main entrance.  After being in the car for 10 hours we were all ready to stretch our legs on a hike.

The hike was mostly flat and sandy, through scrub pine forest, which was something we hadn’t hiked in before.  I normally hike in Chaco’s when it’s warm, but I would skip them if we ever did this again, because all the little shell fragments did a number on my feet ?.

Graham, Hugo, and Ellie on the Yearling trail in Ocala national forest

I was most excited to see all the historic homesites and farm ruins, but either we missed something on the hike or the forest guide had somewhat exaggerated the extent of the ruins.  The only thing we found that resembled anything historic was an old cow dip.  It was neat to see, and Hugo really wanted to go swimming, but it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.Hugo really wanted to go swimming in the Cow dip in Ocala national forest
Despite the lack of archeological features, the trail was beautiful and different from anything we have ever hiked in.  The terrain was easy and the miles went by very quickly.  There were also lots of unique trees, wildlife, and sink holes to keep you interested throughout the trail.  As someone who usually hikes in the mountains with abundant overlooks and waterfalls to keep you interested I thought I might find the scrub forest boring but it was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be.
Unique tree on the Yearling trail in Ocala national forest

After we finished our hike, we got settled for the night at our camp spot at juniper springs campground in the Ocala national forest.

Camping at Juniper Springs in Ocala national forest

 

A short rest was in order since we had been up since 3 am,  but once we got that out of the way we set about planning out next adventure, searching for manatees. . .

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