My hiking usually ranges between the Marshall Swamp Trail Head to the east and the Land Bridge Trail Head or Marion Oaks on the west. This stretch gives me plenty of good hiking and is diverse enough to keep it interesting.
Recently I ventured outside this comfort zone. Although, it is not the first time I have done so. I hiked east of the Marshall Swamp where the Florida Trail crosses highway 40.
I noticed that on the north side of 40, there was a warning sign that the trial was closed due to hazardous conditions. As adventurous as I tend to be, I decided to save the forbidden trail for a different day and hiked south and west from 40 toward the Marshall Swamp.
This part of the trail appeared to be a bit wilder than the areas I am used to hiking. There was an abundance of saw palms and brush. Even though this is not a swampy area, it appears very swamp like.
The trail had recently been cleared. It appeared the trail elves had gone through and cut the saw palm and other under brush back. I know how quickly the trail can be over grown and if we get any rain it will have to be cleared again.
The trail wanders paralleling highway 40 for a while then heads away from the road. It is a nice hike, level with a slightly rolling trail. There are a couple of places where you have to step over some water or a small gulley where there may have been water when the season was wetter.
Now that I have expanded my range, I will be back and explore more of the Florida Trail as it makes its way through the Ocala National Forest.
I grew up in the north west corner of New Jersey and believe it or not there were bears there. That part of Jersey is now having a bear problem similar to ours in Florida. Both are becoming densely populated and the bears just do not have anywhere to hide.
The trail never looks the same. That is one of the things I love about hiking. I can hike a part of the Florida Trail one week and if I hike it again a week or two weeks later, it looks different.
Each hike is a new experience. It may be the time of day or the angle of the sun, but the trail always looks new.
There are always new things to see. Sometimes tress have fallen or have been cut up and removed. The trees may have lost leaves or there may be more leaves than last time.
Something as simple as different ground cover can make the trail new. Even a change in temperature makes a difference.
I do not believe I am the only hiker who notices and enjoys these changes. Others that hike have shared similar feelings and experiences. Nature just has a way of continually surprising us. And if we are aware enough to recognize these surprises, then we can truly enjoy them and enjoy the outdoors.
If you have not experience the constant changing of the trail, then you need to get our and hike.
As the picture indicates – you have choices when you hike.
Sometimes too many choices. When I am hiking there are times I do not want to think. I am on the trail to keep from thinking. I am on the trail to just enjoy and let all my thoughts go to enjoying the walk.
So it is easiest to just walk and let my feet make the decision.
Unlike the poet Robert Frost when confronted with a choice of which road or path to take – he said:
“Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.”
I know whichever path I decide on – I will and have been back to take the other path. Neither is The Road Not Taken.
May you enjoy the outdoors and May You Hike in Peace.