Nature Walks – Welaka State Forest
The weather report for today (Sunday) was for severe thunderstorms in the afternoon and into the evening, so yesterday… after doing my own weather report by looking out the window and seeing blue skies… I decided to go on another bout of hiking in nearby Welaka State Forest.
By Pacific Northwest standards, this forest isn’t anything that you would be likely to spend much time in during the summer, but by Florida standards, it’s green and semi-wild, even if it’s a “working” forest. For those of you unfamiliar with foresting terms, that means that at least a portion of the forest gets cut down periodically. In other words, it’s a pine plantation. Still, the forest is home to a large population of wild creatures, none of which I saw on my long hike yesterday. Too many people had passed through and disturbed the creatures, such as bobcat, turkeys, and deer (I saw tracks in the soft sandy soil) who fled to the relative safety of the thick scrub on either side of the forest tracks (roads).
A group of hikers were gathering at the parking lot when I pulled up, but I wasn’t in the mood for company so I grabbed my pack and headed out. I only got a glimpse of them later on in the day and managed to enjoy the forest mostly on my own, a feat in itself so near a population center like St. Augustine.
I took off without a map this time, using my memory and followed a long loop towards John’s Landing and then Orange Point, both “primitive” campsites located on the St. Johns River, a large brackish estuary that drains a good portion of north central Florida. The forest was quiet, the light breezes fresh and the sun warm. The temperatures climbed up into the low ‘80’s but I guess I have managed to acclimate quite a bit compared to how I felt when hiking last summer.
I returned back to the trail head and after looking at a real map, I decided to venture towards Mud Springs without moving my car. I would move my own feet instead. So, I took off up Eagle Nest Track and followed another shorter loop to the springs. Just as I was hauling in, I saw a bit of bright color retreating off along the forest road – it was the group of which I spoke earlier beginning their return trip to their cars. I would have caught up with them, but by this time, I had already hiked nearly five miles and needed to rest my feet, drink some water and eat a bite of food, so I let them go.
The trails are marked, sometimes, with blotches of color on tree trunks, but not at every junction, so I ended up getting slightly confused at one point, going the wrong way only to notice that I was approaching the highway instead of marching parallel to it, so I backtracked and found the correct return route. Life is like that. Sometimes things just don’t work out, so try something else until it clicks. I followed the route back to the car without incident, passing by a family who were mesmerized by the stinky blue waters of tiny Sulphur Springs. Unlike me, they had driven in on a nice big truck. I still had a half mile to go, so kept on walking. The other cars were gone when I arrived.
I drove back to Crescent City and Highway 17, following now a familiar route back to Seville and State Route 305 going towards Bunnell. Instead of heading directly towards Bunnell, I took a side trip to Haw Creek Preserve, another Flagler County Park, located on the edge of a sluggish forest stream that eventually drains into nearby Lake Crescent. The park has a boat ramp, picnic grounds and a long boardwalk over the marsh, which was very dry, filled with the whispering dry leaves of palms, sweet gum and red maple. The boardwalk had several viewing platforms of the dark stream, which was incidentally covered with a thick layer of what looked like duckweed. The gentle current would make good canoeing or kayaking, but I’m not sure if the duckweed would be an impediment to progress or not.
Having completed this little jaunt, I notched over six miles of hiking and was very tired as a result. Still, it felt good… to get some fresh air and exercise and to accomplish finding yet another walking opportunity close to home. Mind you, this park was way out in nowheresville, off of county roads lined with beautiful cabbage (literally) patches and peas. Still, I remembered the directions that I had read a couple of times and successfully negotiated the route without a hitch, from memory.
The quiet and peace of the winter landscape in Florida is in direct contrast to the divisiveness I have noted in the media. I can’t listen to more than a couple of seconds of MSM reporting when I have to turn it off, the lies and manipulation is so blatant. I am not a political person. I regard the political system of the United States as highly corrupt and stage-managed by entities behind the scenes. Whatever you think about the POTUS, present or past, these men have been puppets of powers unseen. To think that simply putting your man (or woman) in Washington will change things is to be completely naïve. Change comes from within every individual. We’ve had enough divisiveness; time to work on ourselves, take responsibility and discontinue trying to create that knight in shining armor that is going to save us. As we used to say in the 1970’s, “Act locally; think globally”. Take it further and begin to act like a citizen of the Galaxy. Feel compassion for all life everywhere, no matter what form it takes. It is all a part of the One, Source energy in manifestation.
Is it any wonder that sensitive folks like me are completely turned off by the news and now even social media? I have started to actively hide posts, unfollow and block individuals on Facebook who continue to post divisive posts. As I have done with my blog, I will determine what I want to see on my page, not others. And right now, I would prefer some peace and quiet. The election is over. Give the new president a chance to prove himself. Move into a place of neutral observation as much as possible. This is just a moment in the ever present Now. There is much that has not yet been revealed even yet, so brace yourself, as the show isn’t over yet.
On a personal note, I woke up this morning with a continuation of the headache from the day before. Having slept for nearly ten hours and still feeling somewhat fatigued after my “labors” of the previous day, I would note that there is some intense energy descending upon our little planet. Those who have not prepared will be much discomfited. Those who have prepared, need to keep their inner balance and neutrality as much as humanly possible. This is not to say, “don’t feel!” but to stress the importance of viewing all that enters your screen of experience with compassion. Your feelings and intuition will guide you well if you give them a chance.
Peace and blessings,
Photo Credits: Welaka State Forest, Haw Creek Preserve
All Rights Reserved, Eliza Ayres, www.bluedragonjournal.com