Saturday, October 26, 2013

I'm Back

My apologies to regular readers for not writing posts the past few weeks.   I have just completed some major life changes and am planning to make more.
Today I started the fine Florida fall weather with a hike.  A cold front had moved in and the temperatures were now several degrees lower.  It was 79 degrees after lunch, about 17 degrees cooler that it was here just last week.  I parked at Green Springs Park on the north side Lake Monroe in Volusia County, and hiked east along the paved East Central Rail Trail at the junction.  The Springs to Springs Trail goes to the west or left, and it follows the road up to the Interstate bridge where it suddenly ends.  While the extension/completion of both trails is still an unfunded dream, I prefer the idea of bicycling or walking towards the coast.  It was breezy and well shaded.  Trail traffic was very light, with only one runner, 3 maintenance tractors and 5 bicyclists the whole way out and back.

Green Springs!  And sulfurous.
My plan was to hike 5 miles, and I did so with a little more trail time to reach the Audubon site which is just past the 2.5 mile marker.  Being alone on the trail was pleasant and while I missed talking with my friend Walt, it was still a nice day to be out.  The sky was clear, with no clouds.  I could hear birds call and watched many small birds dart between trees.  Eagles and hawks circled the upper breezes.  That breeze was cool (for Florida), but not cold.  There was no threat of bad weather or impending doom, like I have hiked in during a good part of the year.  I had a good time.

The trail is mostly rural, with a touch of urban life.

Here it is more rural.  An eagle's nest is off to the right in the high trees.

All to myself.
My hiking time is still slow.  It took me 3 hours to hike 5.5 miles, with stopping to take pictures and eat a small snack.  I didn't sit on a bench anywhere for long; I was right back up and walking, really just enjoying being outdoors!

At the 1 mile marker is a new bicycle repair stand, a Dero Fixit.  This is the first outdoor model I have seen that is permanently mounted and has tools (attached with wires) with a pump.  It holds your bicycle up by the seat post so you can work on it.  It also has QR Code instructions for smart-phone users.  If you only carry a patch kit or a spare tube, most quick repairs can be completed with this setup.  I hope Volusia County adds more of these unique stands along their more popular bike-pedestrian trails and that other trail associations are made aware of the benefits of self-sufficiency for bicyclists.

In Florida, fall is in the color of the grasses and shrubs, not in the leaves like it is up north.

Here the fall seeds are ready.

My turnaround point.  The next photo is on the left side, about a quarter mile further.

I'll be back!
The day continued to be beautiful and clear and I walked along to my turnaround point at 2.5 miles.  Then I decided to continue a little longer to reach Audubon Park.  I walked back along the dirt road, enjoying the bird song and the first signs of fall foliage.  I plan to return for a better visit of the park soon.

Fall flowers in Florida.

These little fuzzy guys were all along the trail fences.  Is a cold winter ahead?

Back to Green Springs.  This is opposite the spring from the opening photo.

So much of Florida's wildlife is above ground, in the tree canopies.  Remember to look up when out. 
My return walk was a little more brisk, but just as peaceful as the trip on the way out.  It has been weeks since I hiked outdoors, the Florida temperatures were too high and the weather was too wet for me.  I'm glad fall is finally here with outdoor-friendlier weather.  I was glad for the silence of today's hike, with time to reflect on my life's recent changes.