I did not want to go for a walk. I knew I needed to go for a walk, after all it is friday, Frozen yogurt day. I had also had Panera for lunch. I needed to burn some calories. I needed to move for my joints. I needed to walk to help promote better sleep tonight. I decided I was going to go the the preserve but walk the trail on the other side. I had never walked this trail. Now this might not seem like a big deal. However I normally go with someone when I am doing a new trail. Someone who knows how to read trail maps better than me. I don’t think I read them too good.
This particular trail you park on one side of the road, cross the road and start the trail. However, it is right where the incline of a bridge starts. It’s just a short incline, then the trail. The key is….I would have to cross this again to get back to the car. So I cross the road. Get through the incline, and start on the trail. I am only a few minutes down the trail when a red shoulder hawk flies right in front of me. It then lands close by and starts to call very loudly. So I go check it out. There is a fence between me and him and I stop at the fence. He starts to fly off. I think.. it figures. But no….he could care less about me… There is a female hawk in a nearby tree.
Hey baby wanna make a nest with me?
So…do you come to this branch often?
The whole walk has been made. It was worth it just to see those two. I continue on the trail a bit. I come to a sign. Service entrance only. um… WHAT? So I go back to where I started. I found where the actual trail begins. It was actually a lot less obvious than what turned out to be the service trail. Like I said I don’t feel a whole lot of confidence on reading the trail map, so I am really aware of the markers. I orient myself to where the marker is and where it is indicated on the map. I figured out what my path would be and how i would loop it back around to the beginning. Okay maybe I got this. Off we go.
Its been a bit and here we are at the first marker we come to. The marker 23. Okay. So I am on the right path. I decide I have plenty of time so I want to walk down to the river and loop back. We come to the next marker, 22. So far so good. Markers 21, comes and goes. In much of Florida our woods and preserves have been invaded by invasive wild boar. They tear up the ground. I guess the trails are very convenient for them as they had torn up quite a bit of this one.
For extra fun there is a fresh layer of um dead oak leaves on the ground. This hides some of the little holes. This was turning out to be more of a hike than a walk. Well I will sure enjoy extra hot fudge on my Frozen yogurt. That is how this exercise thing works right?
Then there is a little path that veers off….do I follow that? I decide to just stay on the larger path and keep going. Now we come up to marker 18. I am starting to see that these markers are fairly accurate on where I think they should be as to where they appear on the map. This has not always been the case on trail maps. We come up to a marker…… it says eleven. How the hell did I get to eleven? I just want to get a look at the river and maybe sit a few minutes. I look at the map. I look back at the marker. Ooooohh not eleven.. That is a seventeen. The top of the seven was just hard to see. Ooooookkkaayy We are good. I follow the map and trail fairly well and even get down to the river. I wasn’t impressed with the view at first.
Then I am retracing my steps a bit which is also what the map indicates you have to do. I find a little beaten down path. It leads right out to the water. There is a slight incline but I really want a good view of the river so I am good for it.
Besides there is a tree right in the middle…I could always just use that to stop my fall right? I could get a little muddy but the water is right there so we are good right?
Lets just say it was worth that little incline.
I get back up the incline to the path and my knees and ankles are like…yeah don’t try that again okay? I start off taking the path that loops back. Marker nine. Check. Marker ten check. Marker eleven. Check. I keep on going. There are some birds calling that I don’t quite recognize and I file it away to go to the Audubon site to see if I can match them up. I came to the next Marker…..or so I thought. Turns out I went the wrong way and ended back at 15. I could have just followed that back. I was determined now though to finish the walk. So I turned around and back tracked and took the right path. Shortly there after I come to marker seven. Between Marker six and five there is a bench indicated and it looks like it looks at the river. So I am going to check it out.
Really was worth the little detour. I climbed over those logs a bit and there across the river, was an alligator. The alligator is in the second picture above on the shore. Really he looks like a log. The only difference is this particular log moves, and has teeth.
He really was a tiny alligator. I would have to say maybe four years old or so. When they are younger than four they have stripes. Anyway, it made the little detour worth while. So next marker was five and then four. At three there is another indication of a detour to see the river. So I took it.
So now I am confident on where I am at I explore some little off shoots. Then the worse part.
The incline back to the car. I get to the top of this and I really want to go down the little bit and see the river from the bridge.
It did not disappoint.
Hey maybe I can read a trail map pretty good. I do think there would be some market value in an app that tracks your gps on trail maps. Of course then the trail maps would have to be online as well. It would be something I would be interested in, for when I walk the trails by myself.
I like more landmarks than most trail maps put on there. Like you will pass a pile of old cement pilings…..or you will pass an abandoned tank of some sort here. Although how they would depict that on a map, I have no idea. They would probably label it what it was and I would be like well we passed a tank looking thing back there, I guess that’s what they mean. Maybe on the app that someone could create they could also let others add landmarks. Maybe they would use terms others would understand. These are the kinds of things I find myself thinking about on my walks by myself. Birds, trail map apps, pigs, and wanting to just see the river.
All pictures were taken by me with my Android Phone. The river is the Myakka River. This preserve is Sleeping Turtles North.