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A taste of Ocala, a trip report
Viewing posts 1 to 32 of 32 messages posted.
So last weekend I had a backpacking trip planned for my Scouts to Apalachicola National forest. At our Thursday night meeting and pack check (mind you we leave on Friday) a scout whose father was supposed to drive shows up at the meeting with his pack and another pack that we loaned to his father.
Kid: My dad doesn't need this.
Me: Oh, did he get his own pack?
Kid: No, he decided not to go.
Me: So is he still driving?
Me: Did you try to call me to let me know? I never got that message.
Kid: No, he didn't call.
Me: Great, how thoughtful. Now I'm 3 seatbelts short.
So now the night before we leave some inconsiderate SOB leaves 10 kids swinging in the wind. Luckily by the end of the meeting another parent whose son isn't going and just aged out of Boy Scouts allows us to borrow his explorer to get these guys to the trailhead. In the process of this we decided to change the trip plan to Ocala so we would be closer to home should something happen with an unfamiliar car.
So Friday night we arrive at Buckman Lock get the cars shuttled and start hiking about 9:30pm. The night was clear and starry, the moon had not yet risen and mist was rising off of the cross Florida Barge Canal. We followed the canal for about 5 miles with several stops to adjust packs as only 2 of the boys had ever backpacked before. Myself and the 2 older guys hiked without lights and let our eyes adjust to the darkness. The inexperienced guys couldn't grasp that concept and frequently blinded us with their 747 landing beacon flashlights. We pulled ahead of them and kept the distance open to minimize the blinding factor. Eventually we made camp beside the water about midnight. It was a little buggy but I just laid out my bag and mat under a spreading oak next to the water and crashed out.
The next morning we got up late broke camp and headed on down the trail. Our first big break of the day was at Rodman Dam campground. Piped water and flush toilets.
New guys: Hey using the bathrooms here is cheating?
Older guys: What!?! It's a requirement to use a flush toilet whenever you find one on the trail.
New guys: What?! Really? (looking at me for confirmation)
Me: Heck yeah! Porcelin is our friend.
Older guys: ~shaking heads~ Newbies.
We left the campground behind and eventually made it to the causeway over Rodman Dam. The banks of Rodman reservoir wer choked with water hyacinth. Too bad they weren't blooming. We stopped at the dam and checked out all the people fishing at the spillway.
Before too long we hit Penner Ponds. The blue blaze trail just ends at a t interection where someone has kindly remove the sign from it's post. We went left and found some choked up ponds and had lunch. The water had so much biologic matter that it clogged my PUR filer element BLACK. And that was with a coffee filter. The area was criss-crossed with atv trails and I didn't see a decent stop to camp.
We headed back to the trail and before too long we reached the southern blue blaze to Penner Ponds. Nice area to camp but it was right on a forest service road that was getting a lot of use. I'm sure a better spot could be found but it require more scouting than I had time for.
We headed down the trail and before too long we came across a 3 ft Eastern Diamondback rattler. We checked him out, he checked us out and we both went our separate ways. One of the newest boys decided to get a picture so he drops to his knees two feet from the snake and crouches to eye level. I think I threw him almost six feet when I grabbed him away from the snake. Thank God the snake wasn't facing him at the time. My heart was in my throat and I think I had the jitters for the next two miles. We had a nice chat on the value of keeping your distance.
The day was dragging on some of the smaller guys so we took some weight off of their packs and they did much better. After another two hours we reached my cat at Lake Delancy Campground and decided to camp there. 14 miles total hiked.
First off there is no water there and the lakeshore is choked with more water hyacinth. Dead filter too remember? I loaded up the water containers and drove out to Salt Springs to get water. On the way back I stopped and got all the guys sodas for a treat. We had a discussion on the difference between wants and needs and the we all shared what we had learned on this trip and what we would do differently next time.
Next time I'm not sharing a tent with Jimmy. He farts too much.
Me: Well, there's this guy named Artex...
We hit Micky Ds on the way home.
The weather was perfect and only slightly buggy. The guys learned a lot and they had a great time.”
“Hmmm somehow I left an extra 1 in the title on the troop page. Gotta fix that.”
“Cool pics and report!
Kids are such a blast to take camping.”
“Dude those pictures are why people need to see what backpacking is all about way to go dude!
“I can just see 6'-6" Mike throwing a 12 year old like a rag doll to get him away from the snake. The conversation 2 days later goes like this:
Kids Mom: Why did you throw litte Billy about 15 feet on the hiking trip:
HPM: He was 2 feet away from a poisonous snake in an immobile position and we were 10 miles from the nearest road.
Mom: But did you have to throw him.
HPM: Would you prefer that he be bitten and spend a week on anti-venom
Mom: But you were rough
HPM: But I saved his life
Mom: But, But,....
Continue ad nauseum”
“So HPM, which cat was waiting for you?”
“I'll gladly put up with that conversation if it keeps someone from getting bit.”
“looks like you had a lot of fun :) you didnt lose any of the munchkins did ya?”
I only tossed him 15 feet!
“I loved that trip report. Glad to see that I am not the only one who has kids with parents that love surprising you, kids that do things without thinking (therefore keeping you MENTALLY AWAKE at all times) and who just in general keep you hopping from one thing to the other. No matter how easy any certain outting seems to be planned when it comes to scouts, I always come home exhausted...”
Nope, I have never lost a kid. Got close a couple of times and almost lost myself once or twice though.
Treebeard we have a saying:
"It's ALWAYS an adventure."”
“I came within about half a step of stepping on a copperhead while at Sipsey about 2 years ago. I was in a very brushy area and didn't see him until right on top of the snake. It really shook me up for an hour or so.”
“What other poisonous things do we have to be on the lookout for in Feb?
Sorry to hear about the rocky start, but from the nice trip report, it sounds like all ended well.”
“Like Daniel Boone said: I've never been lost, but I have been turned around for 2 or 3 days.”
“You said it, HPM! The thing with the parents frustrates me more than anything. Some just can't get it through their heads that Scouting and Daycare are two different things...”
“Snakes are the biggest concern. Most noteably Diamondbacks, Corals and cottonmouths. Cottonmouths are kinda rare in Ocala and Corals are not aggressive.
Ticks and chiggers will be active but nowhere near like they are in spring. On this trip I removed a tick from my scalp but I didn't see any others at any point.
Ocala does have black bears but they are very afraid of humans and keep their distance. Bear bagging usually isn't necessary.”
“Keyword being "usually" not necessary.”
“Usually not necessary = always advisable.”
“Thanks for sharing the pics !”
“Oh as far as the rocky start thats kind of a standard thing with volunteer lead youth activities. As long as the boys have a good time and learn something lasting out of it then it's worth it all.
Treebeard there isn't much you can do about that except educate them. I personally have no use for most of the parents I meet. We are lucky in that we do have a great group of parents but the "droppers" just increase the workload for those of us who do care. On this trip I was trying to cultivate a few new parents(AKA never do anything but their kids are always there) to help so the 'ole standbys could take a break. It didn't work.”
“Hey! No fair doing a shakedown hike before the shakedown hike!
Very nice report and pics!”
“But I didn't mean to.
“Couple of weekends ago here in the Sierra Madre, I was high up on San Gabriel Peak looking down on an entire Boy Scout troop on a plateau below. About 20 altogether and in full uniform. The thing was they had an American Flag, a Boy Scout flag, and they gathered in formation after they finished up throwing rocks over some ridge, for fun. They couldn't see me, but I could see them through the zoom on my camera.
While in formation, they soon after awakened the mountains in some of the most touching, and fitting, bugle / trumpet music imaginable. It was quite a site to see and thing to hear. It was a thing of honor and those guys were tight.
On the way down, I caught up with the troop, looked the scoutmaster in the eye and gave him a, 'well done.' He took the compliment in confidence.
It was a superb example of what the Boy Scouts represent.”
“What Tango said! Now you're gonna be bored. But selfishly - now we'll have better campsites.
I don't think I'm brining the PUR hiker to Ocala from now on. Going forward I plan to prefilter through a bandana and then use Polar Pure.”
“Cool reports and pics HPM!!! Look forward to meeting you and hiking Ocala NF with you soon. (bring your gas mask)”
“Nice report HPM. Looks like a good troop.”
“Great Report HPM...whet's the appetite a bit for February, wouldn't you say??
Counting the days...err..months I mean! ;-)
And another thing...
“So, HPM, does Mr. Torres have a Mrs. Torres? If not, you better invite him on the Ocala reunion hike....
“Mr. Torres is divorced and works in the Merchant Marine. Currently he is working on developing his six-pack abs.
~HPM, finder of lost loves.”
“Nice pics and trip report HPM! Don't worry about that deadbeat dad, paybacks are a b#$%!@
So Boy Scouts really do smile ?!? You must be an awesome Troopleader cause I've never seen a smiling Boy Scout on the trail!”
“Sure they smile. They smile more when taking a break though.”
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