Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Lime Sink Run Trail at Suwannee River State Park

'Twas the day before Christmas and so we decided to take a hike somewhere. St. Marks NWR was a bit far since we had waited until after noon to decide this. Suwannee River SP is only about 30 minutes away and we have only hiked there once on one trail so off we went to the park.

We decided to try the Lime Sink Run trail as it was the one designated as most "strenuous" and the one that took the most time (at only 30 minutes--lots of short trails there).

It was fantastic and is our new go-to hiking place. Once you veer off from the river and enter the woods, it's magical. Of course we had it to ourselves--it's been my experience over years of camping in state parks that very few people hike the trails. I'm not sure I have ever encountered another human on any state park trail. Of course this could have a lot to do with timing--I'm always there in the middle of the week when kids are in school and many hikers are at work. But I digress.

It's clear that the river at one time was high enough to run through this area. It's very hilly--much of it reminded me of the Eagle Trail at Three Rivers SP--and there is a deep eroded run of rocks and tree roots that has been carved by the water flow. Of course there is no water flow now.

But there are many pools of water deep in the woods. Some are as large as ponds, some are just large puddles. Some are clear, others are covered with algae. This was the first that we came to, a larger one with a clear surface.

During this hike we frightened off what we estimated to be about 100 wood ducks in total. Each time a pool would come into sight, the air would fill with wood ducks flying away. We got wise after about the second pool and tried to sneak up on them, but they invariably saw us before I could possibly get a photo.

Here's a very small puddle of water with green growth on the surface.

I was a bit surprised that we did not see any deer on our hike--maybe next time. There's not much green on the trees this time of year, but the woods near this trail still show some color, mostly from the saw palmettos.

Here's a view of where the water had once flowed through the woods but now only limestone rocks are exposed.

You may notice the strange coloration effect on that photo, with the bottom showing color and the top seeming almost black and white. I'd love to take credit for creating that in Photoshop but in fact it came out of the camera like that. I have been playing with the "dynamic range optimizer" function in the camera and had it turned up a bit, which may explain why it picked up the colors in the foreground and faded those in the background. The tree trunks are in fact mostly gray in color, which may also have fooled the camera. I don' t know how it happened, and only to that photo of all I took, but I kind of like it. Can't take credit for it, though.

We hope to get back soon. One plan is to take a lunch and settle near one of the ponds and be quiet and mostly still. We will still scare off the wood ducks when we arrive but eventually they would likely return. I'm sure deer and other woodland creatures come to those ponds for water, so patience might result in seeing them as well. And there could be worse ways to spend an afternoon...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Foggy Morning

Well, we had summer weather last week, but that came to an end over the weekend. It got colder and rained for most of Saturday night (great for the drought situation, though it's going to take a lot more than one night of rain to make any difference). The front yard was misty with fog on Sunday morning.

It was very cold and breezy today. So, while I finally have my #1 camera back, it's too cold to go paddling!! Maybe later in the week...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cedar Key, Florida

I was camping at Manatee Springs State Park near Chiefland and decided to take a day trip down to Cedar Key, an area I have long wanted to visit. I knew that one day wasn't going to suffice, but this would give me a chance to suss out the accommodation options for a longer stay.

I had lunch at Tony's Seafood Restaurant (very good!) and wandered the shops, picking up a few Christmas gifts along the way. This shiny tiled statue and mural are between shops near Tony's. Behind the wall is a large pink tiled fish statue.

Then I walked across the canal to the various shops and restaurants and lodging on the Gulf. I decided it would be appropriate to have a piece of key lime pie, so I went into a place that had a back deck looking over the water (called "Ann's Other Place"). I should mention that we are having unseasonably warm and wonderful weather with temps in the 80's with soft breezes, so it was a joy to sit out on the deck and have my pie. Here's what it looked like--the arrow points to where I was sitting. The small arrow on the right points to the kayakers that are mentioned further along in this post.

So while I am sitting there sipping on water and waiting for my pie, with my camera beside me, two dolphins go swimming by in the near distance! Very cool. First they passed from right to left

and then circled around and headed back to the right.

With a bit of over-cropping and over-enlarging, I discovered that the face of one could be made out in one photo.

Shortly after the dolphins left I saw these kayakers go by, probably heading to a nearby island that is a national wildlife refuge.

I lingered at Ann's for a while enjoying the view.

While I was walking along the road next to the Gulf checking out motels and inns for a future stay, I spotted this dilapidated boathouse/fishing shed, which looked somewhat picturesque. As I tend to do, I decided to make it (almost) black-and-white for posting here.

I hope to get back to Cedar Key again after the holidays to spend more time getting to know the area.