Getting Lost in Style

Wow, what a nice day for June!! Usually June in S. Florida is hot and humid. Today was sunny, breezy and low humidity. Almost felt a little like fall. No matter how much writing I have to do, I just can’t sit inside on days like this!!

Due to my recent travels, my mountain bike had been shed bound for a few weeks. It was time for a ride!

Jonathan Dickinson state park has plenty of mountain bike trails ranging from novice to expert. I was looking for a different experience though. Having just hiked in Colorado and Arizona, I wanted to explore the unknown sections of the park. The places where others don’t normally go.

At the end of the dirt road for the youth camp is a gate to a fire road. Not accessible via my SUV, but easy for my mountain bike. I really enjoy my bike because I can go almost anywhere quietly and with little trace.

I headed down the dirt fire road into the slash pine landscape and into the unknown. Hawks and Swallow tail kites glided overhead on the breeze. The Swallow Tail kites are easily recognizable by their large split tail. Another hawk circled noisily above letting every animal within earshot that I’m headed their way.

I’ve gone East, or so I think, and decide to follow the power line road West back to the education center.  As I stop to adjust my backpack, a doe sauntered over to me. It appeared she was going to walk right up to me. At the last second, she bounded off through the green saw palmettos with her large white tail held high. Of course, my camera was inside my backpack.

I resumed peddling and encountered bridges, the north section of Kitching Creek, and traversed different landscapes; wide open spaces dotted with green, saw palmettos, wetlands with dark, brown mud, and thick shady forests.  The best part; I didn’t see anyone! All I heard was the wind blowing through the trees and the birds that flew over. Thank god for the breeze! Otherwise it’d been brutally hot.

I  circled back onto the power line road which is wider and more civilized. I was treated her to a primitive bathroom and a working well. The well water felt refreshing on my arms and face, just don’t drink it.

I expectantly drain the last drops from my hydration pack so it’s time to make my way back to civilization.  I find a road that has beautiful yellow and purple flowers and tall green grass. It looks like the road hasn’t been used in ages. That’s good and not so good.

I continue on my trek but I fail to find any signs of civilization. Everywhere I turn, looks the same; trees and saw palmetto. My compass says I’m heading south which is the right direction. Finally, I break out my phone and pull up a map. Wow! I managed to pedal to the far west side of the park. A few more miles and I’d be at the interstate. Ok, no wonder I didn’t see anyone.

I turned around and searched for a well-used road or any signs of civilization. The scenery continued to be peaceful. Even though I’m a bit lost, I’m still enjoying the new scenery and seeing vistas that haven’t been touched in ages. You should always enjoy being lost because you’ll probably never be there again:)

At points I did get concerned about where I was, but I realized that I’m not hopelessly lost (yet) and could call for help me if I absolutely needed it.

Surprisingly, the maps on my phone are very accurate for dirt roads and I finally found a trail across the creek and to the parking area. Course it’s not all without frustration.  I reached an intersection and finally some signs.

The “signs were wooden arrows on each road; 1 is blue, 1 is red. That’s it; no words, just brightly colored arrows. I’m used to the orange markings on the trees to designate the trail, but these brightly colored arrows at intersections are an annoying mystery.

Further down, I reach another intersection; this one has yellow arrows and red arrows, one on each road. Is this some cruel joke!!

Seriously, how hard is it to put up a sign that says “exit-this way”!!!

I kept going the way I thought I should and 10 minutes later joyfully rolled into the parking lot.

I made it!! The adventure was well worth it and I did what I intended to do; see the unknown parts of the park and areas that most people don’t see. Next time, I’m bringing more water and maybe a map. Be prepared, what a concept…..

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