TUESDAY NOV 20 – Taking a different tack, I talk Betty Loomis and Ginny Detzner into a 7.5-mile “half-back” hike from Buckhead Ridge to Okeechobee, and what a delight. We arrive at dawn to find a not-locked-up portalet at the trail access point. Hooray!
Walking through tall, dewy grass, past monarch butterflies sleeping on waving strands, we watch the sun seep across Indian Prairie, catching the moonvine and settling it aglow.
Going against the flow of “traditional” hikers, we meet many friends as we walk opposite of their route. There is a bicycle camper at Indian Prairie, and it’s such a perfect campsite, at the base of a palm grove on the edge of the prairie. There are aster and painted leaf in bloom, and as we approach the long, dangerous highway bridge over the Kissimmee River, a rainbow forms. We dawdle at Okee-tantie, seeking flush toilets at the marina and buying early morning ice cream. Then it’s onto the paved dike, where birds are in abundance – sandhill cranes browsing, glossy egrets roaming, ibis picking through the grass, and the miraculous swoop of a caracara just a few feet in front of our faces. We arrive weary but fulfilled, a morning well spent.