As I start today’s hike at Seminole State Forest, I recall hiking here almost one year ago. It was our first Valentine’s Day together, and when I asked Sandy what she would like to do, her response was “take me for a Valentine’s Day Hike.” Which I did! An overnight backpacking trip with me cooking a meal over the fire ring.
One year later, after 525 miles on the Appalachian Trail, and a couple of hundred more miles all around Florida, our hiking together has been a life-changing and wonderful experience. Now here I am out trying to hike the Florida Trail on my own. Even if right now, because of injuries, it’s just a series of day trips.
Even though the Florida Trail runs within a few miles of home, I’d never been on this particular piece of the trail. That changed this morning when Sandy dropped me off along SR 46 west of the Wekiva River.
Knowing that most of the day was going to be either a road walk or shared bike path, I enjoyed the view of the river and the “short” walk in Lower Wekiva Preserve. Once I crossed SR 46, the real woods were behind me.
The Seminole Wekiva Trail starts after a road walk up Lake Markham Road. On one side there’s a nice natural buffer between you and the road. But along the other side there are the back yards of monstrous homes, hidden inside many gated communities.
In one yard I was surprised by three adult deers. They were enjoying the day grazing in a nicely maintained yard. After a half a dozen others came by, you could see that they weren’t concerned by us being there. I guess even the deer feel safer living in a gated neighborhood. I’m afraid that they were the last big natural thing of the day.
Asphalt, concrete side walks, and more asphalt: that was the song of the day. If you must hike in the urban jungle, access to food and services is a good thing. For lunch, I walked in to a new, McDonalds, fifty feet from the trail, right across from a Publix grocery and liquor store. If I was willing to go just a little farther, I could take in a movie, or buy a fine cigar.
Not far after passing McD’s, I came to the big, showy pedestrian bridge over I-4. Standing there high above the mass of speeding cars, I felt a little “special,” knowing that this multi-million dollar bridge was built for just us hikers and bikers.
When Sandy picked me up later in the day, I was tired of walking in the urban mass, but happy knowing that while out today I crossed the 100 mile mark. Other than with Sandy last year, I had never hiked this far in a single month.