Monday, January 31, 2011

Where The Peaks Have No Name

My new fitness regime took a quantum leap yesterday. It was breezy and cool, the dogs didn't need to go for a run, having had a good workout the day before, so I decided it was time to do a little mountain climbing. The mountains I had in mind are conveniently located next to the house.. The Little Florida Mountains, also known as the North Florida Mountains. My initial target was the nearest peak to the house.. the same one I took last Winter. This time, however, I didn't plan on the bushwhacking route I took then. I could see there was a little bit gentler incline to take. What I found was even better: trails! Since I was starting from inside the boundaries of the Rockhound State Park, there were lots of trails.. maybe not all the way to the peak, but most of the way.

So I was making good time when I decided it was time to go more vertical. Problem was, I intially wanted to go vertical into a dead end. The back-track cost me almost 20 minutes, and a painful slip and fall into a dead prickly pear cactus patch. These are not things you want stuck in you.

As it turned out, I still made it to the peak in 75 minutes from the time I left the house. That's it down there:

On another day, I would have negotiated a descent, and plunked myself down in front of the Pro Bowl with a beer. This day I still felt fresh and saw a higher peak that wouldn't take long to get to. I set off.

But not at the pace I had set on the first pitch. I had no intention of exhausting myself when I still had a long downhill to negotiate. I had thought, from the house, that the peak I was going to was the highest on in the Little Floridas, and when I got to the top, and saw all the rock cairns other hikers had erected, I was sure. That was, until I looked to the west and saw that the next hill over was noticeably higher. I had some more uphill walking to do, and set off immediately. It was close.

When I saw the yucca stalk protruding from a rock cairn, and a Bud bottle stuck on the top, I knew I'd made it. I could go no higher in the Little Floridas. When I found the jar with the register (above), I was sure. I looked down at the state park campground far below, set up the camera to take some self portraints, got out of the wind and took a nap!

The day had gone better than I ever could have imagined. It was time to head home. I chose to hike down to the jeep trail that intersects the top of the range and headed toward home. My only mistake was choosing a descent route that was way too scarily steep and loose. No more falls, but it was very time consuming. I arrived home about 5 hours after departure, and according to my GPS, had negotiated 4 miles and 1450 feet of elevation change, give or take. I took a long, hot bath in Epsom salts, and I'm ready to do it again!

Having gone as high as possible in the Little Floridas, I guess it's time to start planning the next 2000 feet. The "Big" Floridas.

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