A December Hike Through Wekiwa Springs 13-Mile White-Loop

How do you remember a walk in the woods? With months past now, I had reflected on this winter outing because of the sunlight illuminating the golden, brown and red hues of dry brush and weeds. On this morning, it hadn’t mattered how near or far this location. More important was the immersion into adult introspection contrasting with childish titillation.

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Traveling the first mile of the artery feeding the majority of park trails, a wooden marker had signaled a break in the path. Turning left and moving across a paved road, my friend and I had encountered a campground. At the edge of this encampment of vehicles was a small row of wooden benches converging into a theater like area. Much to our amusement, we had found a lady’s discarded top nearby on the ground. Wasting no time for a photo-op, I had stretched the garment across my chest for minutes of grins.

During the second portion of the hike, we had walked through crisp foliage underneath a green canopy of pine needles. The gray dry sandy trail had eventually transformed into a dark brown. With each advancing step, our feet had slipped further into the watery mud. Despite the diminishing quality of the surroundings, our spirits had coasted along on the power of puns and innuendo. This had continued until encountering a small black constrictor. Collecting snapshots of the peaceful reptile, we had completed two-thirds of the white trail loop.

The final leg of our morning journey was characterized by curiosity regarding walking sticks and bees. The walking sticks insects had seemed eerily out of place. They were easy bait for any predator hungry for a meal; however, pairings of these insects had slowly crawled unabated from any lizard or bird. Next, just past a worn wooden hold for horses, a hoard of bees had hovered in the air. Almost out of sight, the droning sound of the bees had recalled a recent news story. A story in which a father and son were stung by a hoard ending up in the local hospital. With this thought echoing a similar childhood experience for my friend, we had expeditiously cleared the last portion of the hike.

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That small adventure navigating through nature had epitomized a moment of personal freedom and liberty. An adventure that had deferred adult responsibility. With fall coming around again, I had looked forward to not only cooling weather but, the smile of an earnest friend.

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Wekiva Springs State Park

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A Sunday Morning at Wekiva Springs @ Apopka, Florida

For my many journeys into the Wekiva Basin, I hadn’t the opportunity to take underwater footage around the spring head until now. This quick video had embodied the sanctity of the spring head on a Sunday morning on July 18th, 2014. The story behind this visit was being turned away the previous day. The important secret for Wekiva Springs State Park most of the year, especially during weekdays, more so in the winter months, visitor traffic was light; however, on hot summer weekends, I had recommended getting there early, between 7 AM – 8 AM.


If you hadn’t known, Wekiva Springs was a 1st magnitude spring. Meaning the spring head had pushed out a tremendous amount of water, roughly 100 cubic feet per second. Another fact regarding the State of Florida, it was home to the most fresh water springs in the world. If you were interested learning more about other similarly classified state springs hop over to Apalacheehills.com’s List of First-Magnitude Springs in Florida. If already a visitor to Wekiva, I had recommended hitting these other 1st magnitude springs in Florida like Silver, Rainbow, Wakulla, Ichetucknee, Blue, Troy, Silver Glen, Weeki Wachee and Alexander. With summer 2014 drawing to close, I had simply thought to say “Jump in the water!”

Read More:
Basins: Middle St. John’s River: Wekiva River (sjrwmd.com)
Hydrology (Wikipedia)

 

What’s inside me? A water world of swimming and scuba lessons

Returning today from a scuba lesson from Florida’s Alexander Springs in Ocala National Forest, I had pondered a question by a fellow classmate, ”Why challenge yourself with learning both things so close to together?” I had responded, “To expand possibilities.” Inside my mind, I had thought different motivations exist. With my 42nd birthday this December, how much time was left for my sight, muscles, joints, heart, or brain to carry out the maximum potential of certain experiences? No one knows when life had played your last card. Maybe, it was the competitive nature of keeping up with a friend younger than myself. Maybe, it was just fun or another avenue for cardio. For the most part, ego had provided the motivation for a journey back into water.

With swimming, I had never learned really how to swim confidently without fins, mask or snorkel as a child in the Bahamas. This bad precedent, a decision of my own, I had never revisited until this year. As a Navy brat, I had lived most of my life within an hour or less from the ocean. After returning stateside from Andros Island, Bahamas to the murky delta waters of the St. John’s River and Jacksonville Beaches, I had lost an inspiration to adventure out to the shore. The contrasting experience, in my opinion, was insurmountable. This October, with recent wear and tear on my ankles and knees from jogging, I had figured, “What a good time to switch horses for cardio!” The past two months, I had rotated to swims at my pool, the gym, fresh water springs, and the ocean. Steadily, I had improved but, elderly men and women left me in their wake leisurely. Part of the frustration of learning swimming was expending too much energy on keeping my head above water and engaging appendages full throttle. Reflecting on weight training from my 20s to now, this activity was counterintuitive. Swimming was not about power but, graceful breathing. This past Monday, I had finally gotten to 16 laps in the gym pool. This Friday, I had finally achieved an uninterrupted lap around the perimeter of Wekiva Springs swimming area. Both events had underscored the value of swimming as a good substitute for running and learning something new!

That second point had brought me to Scuba lessons. A friend had floated the suggestion of getting certified. I had figured why not add another dimension to adventures for the upcoming year; however, the past couple of weeks, I had stressed myself out with budgeting money, time, and health to work through tomorrow, my final day of a Padi Scuba class. During training, an instructor had rightfully told me, “Relax underwater.”  I had translated that into “don’t freak out man.” Easy to say, if failing was a familiar refrain. My instructor, Bob, had gladfully provided support to make this endeavor, fun and fulfilling. If you hadn’t understood his memory imprinting with certain repetitive tasks, perhaps you might be missing the point in the real world.

With final day of class tomorrow, I had aimed to “freak out” less, relax and the enjoy the submersion into the waters around Rainbow Springs State Park. Epiphanies had never come when you expect them but, with effort lies opportunity. In that potential, I had asked the question to try to find, “What’s inside me? What’s inside you?”

For Scuba lessons:

In Central Florida, I had recommended checking out Paul and Bob at Seminole Scuba. For more information, www.seminolescuba.com Address: 3869 Lake Emma Rd, Lake Mary, FL 32746 Phone:(407) 333-8856

For swimming:

Checkout,  Wekiva Springs State Park – Apopka, Florida, or if too cold, La Fitness’s heated saltwater pool in Winter Park, Florida

Read More:
Alexander Springs – Ocala National Forest – Florida (GarzaFX)
Rainbow Springs State Park -Dunnellon, Florida (GarzaFX)
Wekiva Springs State Park – Apopka, Florida (GarzaFX)

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