|Standing outside the car, head tilted slightly back,
I took in a deep,
deep breath and slowly let the air out. 53 degrees, cool, crisp,
slightly overcast. One glorious day for a hike.
The Fourth Annual Easter/Passover hike was held at the Citrus
the Withlacoochee State Forest near Inverness. It was a point
point eight mile hike though various terrains and natural environments.
There were twenty six of us from the Florida Trail Association
and Acewalkers Racewalking Club. Two clubs with positive energy.
all, a respect for health, nature and being. Thanks to my friend,
John Bangos from the FTA, for helping out being the sweep and
being the lead.
The hike started on the western side of the 40 mile Citrus Trail
Loop. We hiked on a sandy road for 3/4 mile to get to the actual
footpath and then headed south. The trail with the orange blazes
the trees is one of the FTAs maintained trails throughout the
Florida. We would hike up hill and down. Through pine forest and
palmetto patches. Giant pine cones scattered the ground and pine
needles softened our foot steps. Over limestone rocks and gnarled
tree roots. But always it was over an easy and well maintained
The sunshine emerged during the later part of the hike and many
jackets ended up in hikers' knapsacks or tied around waists.
There were areas where the controlled burns from months earlier
the lower part of the pines' bark charred. The ground was cleared
open with only light brown from pine needles on the ground and
green stems of new brush starting to grow - just as nature would
a natural fire had cleared out the undergrowth making way for
spring growth. No glittering, dashing, kaleidoscope of colors,
comforting hues of nature's beauty.
The last 3/4 mile brought us to Dames Caves. An area with several
small caves/sinkholes. Enough to pique the curiosity. Thus when
came to the largest of the caves and there was a steep rocky entrance
to it, the climb down had to be made. Those up above could see
spirited ones down below though the large opening above. When
down, one of the hikers had a flashlight. There were just three
there at that time. We got down on our hands and knees and crawled
through a small opening. Surprisingly, to me at least, was that
ended up in a large underground room. Without the flashlight,
would not have been discovered. With the flashlight off, the room
the blackness of eternity. Only by turning our heads in the direction
of the small opening we had crawled through were we able to use
visual sense. Heads turned away from that opening, and only darkness,
After the hike many of us headed to CiCi's Pizza Buffet with
can eat pizza, pasta, salad and desert. The manager gave our group
discount of free drinks. All for less than $5.00 including tax.
What a day! What a glorious day!