Gainesville Ramblings

This is a blog, and thus it barely qualifies as writing, let alone formal writing, so I'd not let it bother you.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Walk in the Rain

I decided to go on a little hike today as it’s been a while since I've put on my hiking boots and followed a trail to its end. Unfortunately, it wasn't a good day for being outdoors. It rained off and on for most of the afternoon, but I figured I could chance it. It looked like the main storm had passed, it was just going to be drizzling and overcast for the rest of the afternoon. That's my favorite weather.

I always enjoy cloudy days, though I'm not really sure why. It’s not that I'm a depressive who is only happy when it rains. I just feel happier to be outside when it’s overcast and drizzling ever so slightly. So I went to Paynes Prairie, ready to tackle a new trail. I went to the Visitor Center to get a map, and asked the ranger there about how to get to Alachua Sink.

It ends up Alachua Sink is all the way back in Gainesville, with the trail to it most likely flooded and filled with hungry alligators. I don't know, but I suddenly had an urge to buy some of those flood overalls and a big stick and try to tackle the trail. Maybe some other day. Instead I took the Cone's Dike trail, which is supposed to be 8.25 miles roundtrip, so maybe a 3 or 4 hour trek.

The trail goes right through the marshland, so you get some spectacular views of the Alachua Savannah (yes, that's what it’s officially called). About a mile or so down the trail, I turned a corner and there was a deer sitting right in the middle of the path about 500 yards in front of me. From a distance, it looked like a fawn as it was small and I thought I saw some white spots on its side. But it was all alone (unusual for a fawn) and acting very strangely, running around in circles, shaking its head violently. Thinking it might be hurt or caught in something, I started walking very slowly and quietly in an effort to get closer to it.

About two hundred yards away, there was suddenly a giant crash of thunder. I turned around, and saw a wall of water coming down the path. "Shit," I thought. I turned around again in time to see the deer dive into the marsh. At this point, I decided to cut my losses and head back to my car. Little known fact: If all you’re wearing is a cotton t-shirt, and it starts raining, you'll probably be warmer if you take that shirt off. It certainly made my walk back more enjoyable, especially when I wrapped it around my head to keep the bugs and water out of my face.

The walk back was frightening at times. The thunder was almost deafening, so I'm pretty sure some of the lightning bolts struck fairly close to me. I also discovered that while having waterproof boots are a great thing most of the time, when it’s raining and you're wearing shorts, the water will instead flow into the boot. And as its waterproof, pretty soon any space not taken up by your foot is filled with liquid. If I had had to hike pretty far, it would have been very uncomfortable. Luckily I was pretty close to my destination when it really started becoming a problem.

I'll definitely have to check out that trail again, as it seemed like it would be pretty a pretty nice hike. And I need to start planning that camping/canoeing trip for a few weekends from now. More details on that later.

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