Sunday, December 8th, 2019
We got to catch a killer sunrise as we hiked out of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. It looked like something that belonged on a motivational poster. We walked by numerous, potential stealth sites as we walked through and along tall grasses, and underneath oak trees covered in Spanish moss. Some of the grasses were well over my head, and they attracted spiders which had me silk blazing as I proceeded along the trail. I also noticed the occasional large and vacant snail shell which I would dodge, just in case. I don’t know who was more startled, the hogs that woke up from their slumber as I walked by, or me who didn’t even realize that they were there until I heard them squeal loudly and storm through the brush next to me.
Eventually we’d exit the preserve and walk alongside a fence which kept us off of private property that appeared to be reserved for hunters. We were between the fence and the river at one point, and were excited to see two guys riding around on their airboat. We waved, then we took cover behind a bunch of trees. I wasn’t exactly sure why Frisbee drug me over there in a panic until I realized that one of the guys on the airboat was pointing his rifle directly at us!
We didn’t come out of hiding until a minute passed and we heard the airboat take off, disappearing in the marsh. I’m not sure if the guy was pointing his rifle at us because he thought it would be funny to scare us, or if he was just an irresponsible gun owner who was checking us out through his scope. Regardless, you should NEVER point your gun at another human being, that is unless you have every intention on using it! Not cool!
We continued to follow the fence line and ended up stumbling upon two otters that were either in the middle of a battle Royale or were just playing rough. One of the started running right at us, and I warned Frisbee (who was kneeling down using his phone at the time) to be careful. Otters are adorable, but they can be really, really mean! I’ve heard stories of them ganging up on gators.
Your cuteness doesn’t fool me, sir!
Next we’d see several horses. One of them must have been the one whose eyes turned red when one of our hallucinating comrades that we met last night approached it. No satanic equestrians here! All of them were friendly, curious, and wanted lots of nose scratches.
More animal sightings followed. While strolling under spider-like trees, we’d see a flock of cranes fly above us, a raccoon hiding in a palm tree, a startled flock of turkeys, and a tiny snake.
When we reached Starvation Slough WMA parking lot, we took our lunch break. We got to meet who we believed to be our gun-toting airboat riders who were loading their boat up on a trailer. I wasn’t 100% certain it was them, but I also wasn’t overly friendly when they waved at us during their exit just in case it was them. On a finer note, we also got to enjoy a water cache left by a guy suitably nicknamed “Water Boy”! Thanks buddy! Wherever you are!
When we left the comforts of the picnic table under a the shade of a pavilion, we began our hike on a road, which led to the Kissimmee River Oak Creek Public- Use Area. We walked by some curious cows in a field and after passing gators sun bathing on the sands of the river, we walked over bog bridges and straight into a bull! It was on the wrong side of the fence and was very stressed out when we appeared out of the blue. Frisbee yelled and clapped to keep it moving forward. You don’t want those things feeling cornered otherwise you’ll be in some trouble! We eventually got around him and our hike felt a little safer. We’d only see a couple armadillos and a boat laying in a nearby field. Then we treaded through the mud, and would wander under a labyrinth of palms before we realized that we had wandered a half mile off trail!
Once we got back on track, we’d take a short break at Chandler Ranch Road before walking by a large herd of “trapped” cows. They were fenced inside a teeny tiny area and when we walked by, they didn’t know where in the world to go. I got a chuckle as they ran back and forth in confusion, trying to get away from us, but also going no where.
We followed the fence line and struggled to walk over the lumpy land that had recently been plowed. I’d keep my spirits up by listening to the awkward and funny “screams” from the cows nearby. We’d shortly be back on flat earth and under the palms again, seeing deer and turkeys on the way. The temperature began to cool as the sun made its way towards the horizon.
The palm labyrinth would be enjoyable. The trail was raised and we’d snack on wild, sour oranges. I had never had, nor heard of sour oranges at the time, so I was confused when the orange I had peeled tasted more like a lemon. I was questioning my sanity. Do I not know the difference between an orange and a lemon anymore? Am I that out of touch with reality from being in nature for so long?
We hiked into the night and the trail began to get swampy. This had us worried. We absolutely did not want to be hiking through the swamp at night when predators like the alligator are most active. Fortunately we’d only be confronted with the glowing eyes of a night hawk that was perched on a bog bridge and the cow patties that were covering most of the ground at Micco Landing Campsite. We managed to find a small, dookie-free patch of ground to lay out our bivies for the night. We could hear the flow of traffic nearby. We were closer to the road than we thought we’d be!
28.0 miles (45.1 km)
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One thought on “Return to the Florida Trail: Chapter 18”
Not cool! Illegal and stupid of that hunter.
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