From Black Water Swamps to White Sandy Beaches

From Black Water Swamps to White Sandy Beaches

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pinhook Campsite to Port Leon Campsite---March 24th

It was very warm and sticky at Pinhook Campsite. The kind of night where you just lie sweating inside your tent waiting for it to cool down or for the humidity to somehow decrease. In the morning, I still felt rested despite lying awake for hours before drifting off. Leaving camp, we continued on a well-graded forest road before turning off into the woods. At times the ground became wet and spongy causing us to slow our pace. Eventually we emerged on the Ring Levee and saw "The Bend", a glimpse of the Gulf's ocean waters beyond vast salt marshes, the coastline of Florida bending south and carrying on to the west. Atop the levee an onshore breeze was blowing, cooling us off and bringing the pleasant smell of the sea. At the west end of Ring Levee there is a stark division in habitats. On the right is brackish water supporting a variety of marsh grasses and on the left is a shallow freshwater lake chock full of lillypads and alligators. Once on Main Levee, a narrow freshwater canal runs along the right. We were walking along keeping an eye out for gators, when suddenly the reeds on both sides made quite a stir as gators went crashing through them to reach the safety of the open water. It's hard to say who was startled more, them or us. I can tell you my heart was beating faster. We could see the head of the one sticking out above the surface of the lake and judging from that, he looked like a big boy.
At Stony Bayou Pool we spotted widgeons, coots, herons and other water fowl. Very nice viewing, which took our minds off the walk. At East River Pool we saw three white-tailed deer leaping in water near the shore making their escape onto the River Levee.
It was nearly a mile on the blue blaze to reach the visitors center. A lot of construction going on paid for with money from the federal stimulus, at least that's what the sign stated. The center was a very nice building, no arguing that. We dropped our packs next to the benches on the back observation platform, drank our fill of water from the water cooler (Thanks Culligan Man!), then sat down and had a bite to eat. We were entertained by the hummingbirds that zoomed up to the feeder, hovered, drank the nectar and zoomed off again. A green anole "gigolo" was working the area near the statue of a great heron. Puffing out his red throat and bouncing up and down, he was able to attract three females in the very short time we were watching him. I think next Halloween I should dress up as a green anole lizard. Ha!
Inside the lobby, we checked out the winning pictures from the photo contest that were on display. Some of them were absolutely stunning. The images on the postcards I had selected were not nearly as colorful or compelling. Before leaving, we made sure to fill up our water bladders with that cool, clear bottled water.
On the road to Port Leon it was apparent that my hiker hunger is growing. Feeling ravenous, a good town meal will not go unwanted. Our campsite was in a small stand of oak and pine just off the road. With hours to go before nightfall, I had plenty of time to read. I'm half-way through "The Prairie", the final book in the leather-stocking tales by James Fenimore Cooper.

The Pinhook River
Yesterday Evening on Pinhook River Bridge
On the Fringe---Marsh and Palm
Gator Lake
Lizard Lover

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