Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ghost Orchid Hunting 2014

Last Sunday, my dad and I randomly decided to take a drive out to the same spot as last year to look for ghost orchids.  We knew it was going to be a lot drier than last year but were shocked that it was completely dry except for a few puddles!  We were in the hammock about 10 minutes before I spotted this first ghost orchid of the day!  

I found it by looking on the same trees as last year that I had marked in my GPS.  I did notice, though, that it is much easier to find them by searching for the roots on the trees and then seeing if there is a bloom attached rather than searching for the flower to begin with.  We kept wandering around the hammock searching for more.  I heard some voices nearby and since we were in a "secret" location, we kept very quiet.  The silence was broken when I near screamed from realizing my foot was inches from a very angry Cottonmouth.

I jumped away and my dad just kept asking, "How did you even see it??"  It was just perfectly camouflaged.  I've had so many close encounters with snakes now that I'm very seriously going to purchase a pair of snake boots for expeditions like this one.  I finally calmed down and we were wandering further into the hammock when a man snuck up behind me and starting chanting fake Native American noises and saying "You may not enter!".  I quickly realized it was a hiking buddy of mine out there with 2 others from our group!  Five sets of eyes are better than two so collectively we started finding a ton of ghost orchids.  We found a lot of doubles and a lot of them were low to the ground to make for fantastic photographs!

After searching and finding so many, we decided to head out after some last pictures.  Our friends stayed behind and continued searching for ghost orchids and other rare flora.

Dad and me in front of an old growth cypress

                                                             Dingy star orchid

Monday, June 2, 2014

Gear Review: Macabi Skirt

I just posted my review of the Macabi Skirt on Trailspace.  You can read it here.

You can read more about the skirt or purchase one at Macabi's website.  Yes, they even make one for men.  Here are some pics of me wearing the skirt:

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Moccasin Marsh, Wonder Dome, Thunder Dome and Bonus Dome Hike

This morning I joined 12 other hikers at the Oasis Visitor Center to explore a few cypress domes along the Florida Trail.  Because our rainy season hasn't quite arrived yet, the trail was surprisingly bone dry!  It was a nice change even if it was extremely hot.  We left the visitor center around 8 AM and hiked 3 miles north along the Florida trail.

We stopped to look at some oak toads, Eastern Meadow Larks, and various grasshoppers.  We veered off the trail near the beginning of the blue loop and headed into Moccasin Marsh.  Because there was no water, there were also no moccasins this time.  All of these domes were named by my friend Christopher so you won't exactly be able to find them on a map.  

Testing out the panoramic feature on my new phone

We explored this small dome quickly then moved on to Wonder Dome.  Usually the center of this dome is filled with at least 3 feet of water but today this one was also completely dry.  We took a break in the middle of the dome and enjoyed some snacks.

After 30 minutes, we moved on to cross a prairie to explore Thunder Dome.  This one was also free of water except for a tiny mud puddle in the very center.  We sat around the puddle on some logs and took photos.

We were about to head back to the trail when Christopher spotted a 4th cypress dome he hadn't explored yet.  We voted to check it out real quick.  That one had the most sawgrass and we even saw a 3 foot Water Moccasin!  We headed back to the trail and took a quick break to hydrate.  The 3 miles back to the cars were quick since the trail was dry but it was extremely hot out (in the low 90s).  Overall, it was an easy 7.7 mile hike today.

Burnt parts of the trail