When I woke up, it was again quite cold, which should serve as a reminder that I'm not in South Florida anymore. It was a magical morning with the early light slanting through the leafy branches above and the trail passing over twenty small bridges and boardwalks. I loved seeing the cypress trees again and the small palms growing along the stream banks were nice as well. You can see the eighth largest cypress tree in Florida if you take the side trail on the long boardwalk.
After the junction with the SR 100, I was walking along a shady, sandy railroad bed. The lovely forest started again at Etonia Creek where the path skirts the side of a ravine. A fifteen yard blue-blaze leads to a bench high above the confluence of the creek and Falling Branch. I stayed a few moments to listen to the faint sound of flowing water and the rustling of leaves stirred by the gentle breeze.
A mile further on gave me good reason for a much longer pause---Iron Bridge Shelter, which was nestled in the woods to the left of the trail just past a stream crossing. It's not quite as nice as The Rice Creek Hilton, but the loft wasn't bad. I did some bird watching as I leaned back in the chair on the porch. The best I saw were a brilliant red cardinal flitting around in the bushes and a red-crested woodpecker with black and white striped wings tapping on tree trunks. I also heard squirrels playing in the leaves on the tin roof. It was hard to pull myself away from such an idyllic setting, but after lingering longer than I should have, I forced myself to don my pack and carry on.
Upon reaching the kiosk at Holloway Road, the landscape changes rapidly to scrub and tufts of grass. Tinsley Camp is not too far from this dry patch, located just a step or two of the trail. You can't miss the sign with the tent emblem. It's a relatively poor campsite though suitable enough for one night, plus it's the only one available for the time and mileage I was willing to put in today. I reckon I'll just put my feet up and give them a good rest.
Along Rice Creek
A Little Swamp
Iron Bridge Shelter