And one more little adventure from my Florida trip a year ago. I already wrote about a scenic trail in Big Cypress National Preserve, but believe it or not, South Florida has a few more trails that prove that hiking on a flat terrain can be exciting, and here is one of them: Gator Hook trail. Maybe it’s for the better that Florida is not known for hiking, so you can often find the trail all to yourself… and enjoy it ‘as nature intended’, in the buff – as several of us did, lead by Dave from Florida Great Outdoors group.
We started off early in the morning,
but by the time we arrived the sun was already pretty high, and it was obvious we’d have a hot day ahead.
However, there was still dew all over the palm leaves
and the cypresses.
We were ready to disrobe right away, but then we heard cars approaching the trailhead, and soon a pretty big group of people arrived. Luckily, they didn’t go far, just to the nearest cypress dome (that is a grove of cypress trees around the swamp waterhole).
Afterwards, we had the trail to ourselves again.
It was quite dry (for a swamp),
but a few puddles were scattered here and there.
One of them hosted a water moccasin, which was a lot calmer than the ones we saw 2 years ago.
This time I was a lot luckier capturing another local reptile – Carolina anole, while he was flashing his brightly colored throat fan.
Besides this unidentified monster everything went quiet,
and we enjoyed the tranquility of the place.
We also paid attention to the local plants and were hoping to see a blooming orchid.
Some plants were rather typical for a tropical rainforest, like this strangler fig, reminding that South Florida is a tiny outcrop of the tropics in the continental US.
This palm seemed to attempt a similar take-over of another tree, though without strangling roots, it would probably end up just growing next to it.
There were also quite a few fern species,
and the one below had leaves reminiscent of snake skin.
Typically for this part of the world, many trees were covered by bromeliads.
Some were blooming,
others were already releasing their airborne fruit.
… and they provided a cozy habitat for grasshoppers.
We also saw a beautiful blue iris,
I wish I could capture its sweet smell in the photograph too!
Then we found orchids with their fruits already dry and open, so I though it could be too late to see any with flowers…
But then we saw quite a few blooming ones!
Not quite as spectacular as the orchids sold commercially, but it was exciting to see them in the wild. (I think this is a dingy flowered star orchid).
Not sure what kind of plant is this one below, but its tiny flowers were very pretty too.
And hanging on it, there was another interesting encounter – a semi-transparent spider. What a way to blend in with the environment!
So did we feel very connected to the natural environment during our naked hike!