Jan 21, 2015

In Memoriam: My Dad

While other fathers took their sons hiking in the woods, or fishing in streams, and for an elite few – golfing at the country club – my father found a unique way of combining all three.

Tributary flows upstream

He’d roll the car to a stop on an undesignated shoulder of twisty country road. Then he’d cut off the engine. The “official” entrance of Winters Run country club was just over the rise, and, more importantly for my father – out of sight.

Two doors down, my friend’s father was an “official” member of the club, spent weekends there, donned its cleated shoe, khaki pant, and collared shirt attire, and strode the well manicured grounds in wide motions – tee after tee after tee after tee – refining the fine art of the golf swing.

My father had me switch into my old sneakers and further directed me to “hug the tree line” on our clandestine caper to where I was not quite sure – but as sons do, I followed him anyway – until we reached it: a crooked run of rapids with the same name as the country club, on the other bank of which flapped the flag on the green of the 16th hole.

“Some balls make it in that hole,” my father reasoned out loud, “but more make it into the stream.” (So that’s why he had me carry in a telescopic retractable ball scoop!)  

Main stem downstream

First we scooped out what balls we could from the waters edge. Next we tip toe our way out on the rocks, and eventually into the shallows itself. The icy water soaked through my sneakers (it was fall).

We bagged a good many, enough for me anyhow.

But my father could not leave well enough alone. “Down there,” he said, pointing into a hole behind the riffle. “That’s where they all are!”

He was right – it was the mother load.

And it was also an ending I knew all too well.

Either a rock gave way or a patch of algae slipped him up: All I heard was a big “SPLASH!”

(But he got those golf balls. And it was the mother load.)

As funny as it is in retrospect, not only did we not laugh in the moment, we simultaneously, instinctively, (and silently) agreed, on the spot, as he emerged from Winters Run – in a silent “father-son” code – that yes, he did fall in the water, but no, he never got “wet.”

That was important to my father. Who is a good son not to oblige?

Father and son

He had me play the 17th and 18th holes on our way back – as he watched in his sloshing wet sneakers – under the cover of shortened light of the dying fall days. Thirty years later I still think about that water hole. That’s the hydrologist in me … and the son, (but not the golfer)!

Rest in Peace, Dad.  I love you and I will miss you.  Thank you for everything.

Jan 20, 2015

Florida Trail gets shortened

Disregard everything I've said:

Loop Road is no longer the southern terminus of the Florida Trail.

Six miles north
to the new southern
terminus (Oasis VC)

It's been relocated 6 miles north to Oasis Visitor Center

Technically that makes this section just a trail.

I've always liked no name trails better anyhow.

"No place from here but up!"

That's one way to look at hiking north
on the Florida Trail from its southern terminus
at Loop Road

Jan 19, 2015

Follow the blue blaze

Looking north on the Florida Trail
(not too far from Loop Road)

Jan 18, 2015

Don't forget to sign in!

Out west there were often sign-in boxes at the top of many mountains.

Upon ascension I felt obligated (even honored) to sign my name.

In the case of the my recent visit to the southern terminus of the Florida Trail, I was only hiking in a few hundred yards. For that reason I had no similar impulse to sign the book.

However I was curious to look at the book to see who had.

The sign in book has seen better days.

Moisture and mildew had rendered the pages unreadable.

This could call for water-resistant Write-In-The-Rain notebook.

Either that or an moisture proof case.

Three decades ago

Johnny Yates next to pump
at abandoned gas station.
Published by Joe Rimkus Jr.
Miami Herald Staff
March 17, 1982

Jan 17, 2015

Pinecrest pumps

Old gas station
as seen in Pinecrest

Talking local Florida history
with long-time resident Dave

Into the deep

Here's a walk into the center of a dome

January 15, 2015

Jan 15, 2015

Roots still submerged

Center of this dome
is a solid one foot deep

January 15, 2015

Water retreats deep into cypress

Here's another paradox of the swamp:

Pinelands are the driest place in the swamp, but it isn't until they become shallowly flooded that the we know the wet season has peaked.  Similarly during the spring, it isn't until the usually lowest-lying and deepest-watered centers of the domes turn dry that they driest part of the drought has arrived.

Pond apple roots are still submerged (for now),
but in recent years they've been more visible
compared to a wetter period in the 1990s

How far are we from that condition?

Away from canals, water depths among the pond apple trees (often found in the center hole of the cypress domes) is still a good foot deep.  But it's not a matter of if, but when and how long.  Everyone once in while (i.e. most recently in 2010), we have a year where the pond apple hold water all year round, but usually we can count on them to go dry at some point in the spring. The importance of water in the pond apple is that it serves as an indicator that the swamps natural fire breaks (i.e. sloughs, strands, and marsh) are still holding water.

How long do the pond apple hold water?

The annual average since 1992 has been about 10.5 months.

Jan 14, 2015

Seasonal shift in center of dome

e are currently somewhere in between
the above two extremes

Jan 13, 2015

Marl chip

Marl is still a little moist,
But crusty on top