This is the Florida I really like. On my only off day in Orlando, not counting the day I flew in, I went out to Lake Kissimmee State Park in search of their 13 miles of trails. Luckily, not one of them had a TRAIL CLOSED sign at the trailhead.
Kissimmee is a 5900+ acre park with an incredible variety of terrain: From forest to floodplain and flatwoods to hammock, Kissimmee had it all.
At the trailhead was a fishing hole that had a lot of attention. Mostly parents with kids were fishing from raised platforms. It wasn’t hard to see why they were fishing from above the shoreline: I immediately spotted two alligators floating offshore, with only the top of their heads out of the water. I could see fish everywhere, practically begging just below the water’s surface. I was told they were Florida Largemouth Bass, although they looked like a bunch of pet carp.
I didn’t hang out long enough to see one caught. I had just spent the past several days immersed in a sea of humanity, with a second round coming the next day, so I was looking for solitude on the trails. I found it too. The only company I had once I left the trailhead was several deer that I hiked past.
It was an absolutely beautiful day, with temps in the low 70’s F, not a cloud in the sky, and I had those 13 miles of trail to hike.
This remnant of Florida fascinates me. I honestly love hiking through the flatwoods and hammocks. It’s so different from what is in Alaska. It’s also kind of enjoyable to be hiking in a t-shirt in March and without mukluks.
They very recently had a controlled burn in the park, and one of the trails went right through one of the burns. The scent of burnt vegetation hung in the air. The burn was so recent, that I would occasionally walk through a pocket of air where I could smell the heat itself. I’m not sure if it was a hot pocket or just an area where the sun beat down in such a way as to amplify the scent, but it was intense.
Last week, I had a 10 day business trip down under, as in the Lower 48. Orlando was Part One of the excursion. I landed at their airport at 5:30 am. Since I was not going to be allowed to check into the hotel until 3pm, I had some time to kill. After breakfast, I picked up a few things that I forgot to bring and then searched for a park with a trail to hike.
I picked one out and headed down the highway. This was my first time to Orlando, and after spending the past 12 hours traveling, I just wasn’t in the mood for the intense traffic. It’s pretty nasty in Orlando. Shout out to I-4!
After arriving at the park, I walked about a bit then came across the trailhead:
There were three trails, and a TRAIL CLOSED sign at the start of each trail. An hour fighting traffic to go twenty miles, and the trails are closed. I was not impressed. There was no explanation. I’m not overly familiar with trails being closed. In Fairbanks, it’s usually because the trail is going through an active wildfire zone, and in Anchorage I remember warning signs highly discouraging of the use of a trail due to a grizzly killed moose carcass just down wind a bit, and one never knows when that grizzly will return to chow down some more. I was hoping to at least find a sign saying “Trail Closed due to Alligator Eating Wayward Tourist”, but there was no such sign, and I started to assume it was probably due to the trail getting a bit muddy, or something equally hazardous.
In the end, I found what I thought was a small hardly used trail along a creek, but eventually I was told off by a woman in a canoe who said that I was not on an official trail and I needed to go back.
I almost told her to go soak herself, but in the end, I just pointed to the opposite shore, and asked, “Is that an alligator?” Then I walked back to the car.
The Federal Government has designated the Chilkoot as a national historic trail. Gaining fame during the Klondike Goldrush, the Chilkoot was a major thoroughfare into the interior of the Yukon and Alaska. Prior to that, the trail was a major route for the Native population for a millennia.
Currently, the Chilkoot is closed due to major trail damage from flooding this past autumn. A series of atmospheric rivers pummeled the area, The Taiya River reached flood stage on five different occasions during a two month period last fall, eroding banks and dislodging bridges along a large section of the trail, that follows the river.
There is hope that the trail will be open at some point this summer. The complete trail to Bennett Lake has not been open due to Canadian restrictions since the start of the Corvid pandemic. There is also hope that those restrictions will also be lifted for the upcoming hiking season.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park was established on this date in 1972. As I’ve said before on here, GMNP is one of my favorite National Parks. My trip there, which involved some serious dirt roading in a ’73 Beetle, was completely spur of the moment and unplanned. I brought back a Bug full of memories when I found this gem in Texas.
Wrangell, Alaska is hosting their annual Bearfest on July 27-31. It is a celebration of all things Bear. Everything from symposiums to art and photography workshops; as well as hikes and a marathon. Wrangell, Alaska is the place to be for all Bear Lovers. There will also be some salmon tasting, of course.
Wrangell is located in Southeast Alaska in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, and sits at the mouth of the Stikine River. The population of Wrangell Island was 2400 in 2000. Like the entire Southeast, Wrangell is a fishing paradise.
Wildlife in the Tongass include brown, black and the elusive glacier bear, as well as mountain goats, sitka black tailed deer, wolves and bald eagles. Orcas and humpback whales are often seen swimming the straits.
Alaska Airlines services Wrangell daily, weather permitting. The (mostly decimated) Alaska Marine Highway System also services Wrangell, at least in theory.