It's Thursday and therefore time for (are you ready?) the Photo Safari Report! Yay! And much like in the photo above, things went a little bit awry. So I'm calling this the Hike of Surprises and Misadventures.
It started out great! We went to Oscar Scherer State Park and arrived just ahead of the park rangers, who, very kindly let us in a little early. Oscar Scherer is a wonderful park with miles and miles of trails and always a lot to see! It was an overcast day so we weren't certain how good any photos would come out but on the other hand, it was nice to not be too hot.
We started out on a few of the near trails but quickly moved on to the trails that go further into the wilds. If lots of people are going to show up, the majority tend to stick to the shorter, closer routes and we like to find new and different things to see. We never know for sure where we are going to end up (never more true than this hike) but you gotta start somewhere, and we started in a familiar place
There were so many wonderful surprises. The birds! The Insects! The flowers! It seemed that there was something beautiful to photograph at every turn.
We hustled our bustles down the paths in an effort to get to the other side of the Legacy Trail (a very long and very popular bike trail). Once on the other side, we knew we would find a new and exciting adventures! We always do.
The sky was vast but dark with only a little sun breaking through here and there. But onwards we went. Because of the relative gloom, we could hear so many more birds than we could see. We saw all sorts of animal tracks as well. That's one of the many times when hiking with a former ranger comes in handy. She can identify all of those tracks. Very Cool. Unfortunately I didn't think to get a photo of any of the tracks. Sometimes, I'm not very bright.
We continued on through many different environments, from muddy, wet low spots, to open sandy scrubby areas to cool green tree-filled sections. Each one beautiful in it's own way.
And it was in a lovely tree-filled glade that the first mishap, errrr, ummm, happened. There we were walking along, remarking on how beautiful it was, snapping our photos, breathing in those amazing and complex fragrances when Joy pointed out a dragonfly just off trail. I approached quietly and then stopped to find the best spot for the shot. Here is the shot: Admittedly not one of my finest
And the reason that it was not very good is because before I could get it completely properly focused in, I was suddenly feeling intense ouchies on both legs. Naturally I looked down to find that, both shoes, both socks and both legs to the knees were covered in ants! Lots of ants! Biting Ants! Ouchie!
Because neither Joy nor I are the type of people who over-react, I calmly stepped back off the ant hill I clearly was standing on, I apologized to the ants and together Joy and I quick stepped our way back to a bench we had passed a very short time before. Once seated, I removed both socks and shoes. Joy worked at removing all insects from my shoes, I worked on my feet, legs and, eventually the socks. Those little critters were even inside my socks!
From the knees down I was covered in ants bits. Even though it hurt, I honestly cannot blame the ants. They were just protecting their home, after all, a giant had just stepped on it probably caving in the roof! Poor little ants. Once the socks and shoes were given the all-clear and I had removed all of them from my actual person, I put myself back together and we walked on, finding new and different trails over and over again.
We hiked for hours, always seeing something new, on trails we had never seen, and we were very pleased with ourselves and our adventure. But after a few more hours, we were beginning to tire and we were ready to head back. So we stopped and looked around and for the first time ever, neither of us had a clue which way took us back to our point of origin. Uhoh. We should have brought a map.
The trail at this point was very poorly marked and actually the trail itself was weird. Instead of walking on hard packed sand or grassy leaf-strewn ground or even mud, it was more like churned up fluffy stuff. What on earth was going on? So stood at a literal cross road and debated. As we discussed and wondered and hesitated, (and my ant bites continued to throb) lo and behold, in the distance we see, coming toward us, a very large piece of machinery. We waved him down and he kindly stopped for us.
It turns out that we were no longer on a regular hiking trail but instead a fire trail. Yikes! Our rescuer was a State Park Employee whose responsibilities go from Weeki Wachee (several hours north) to the Eveerglades (several hours south) and he was preparing this area for a controlled burn which was to take place the next day. What are the odds that we would all be in the same place at the same time? Turns out that guardian angels sometimes drive tractors!
He set us straight in short order and Joy and I headed in the proper direction. We are so grateful for his help or we might have chosen the wrong path and ended up 3 or 4 miles (at least!) further in the wrong direction! Yowza! As it was it took another hour and a half to get to a point where things looked familiar again.
So it was, quite the adventure indeed! Or misadventure perhaps. Naturally we continued to take photos all the way back. Here are a few:
Very Exciting! But next time, for sure, we will bring a map. And perhaps a compass. And maybe some water. And for sure, I will be more careful about stepping on ant hills!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.