We tacked on a couple of extra days on the tail end of a business trip to Jacksonville last week so that I could complete my 50 trail miles in Florida.
I chose a section of the foot-travel-only Florida Trail in the Ocala National Forest which showcases a unique habitat: the sand pine scrub forest. This is the largest remaining tract of this particular habitat, most of which has been destroyed by development. This stretch of FT was the first section to be cut and blazed back in the 60s.
With a surface of sand, pine needles, and/or leaves, the trail was flat (duh), smooth, and "no-excuses" runable! It was also extremely well marked. The Juniper Prairie Wilderness was my favorite section.
"Prairies" here take on a different meaning.
At times the trail felt very tropical, at times more north woodsy...
Hopkins Prairie was the largest, and I was treated to sightings of 8 sand hill cranes (also 6 deer, 3 black snakes, lots of birdies, and ick: TICKS).
Saw a few species of flowers I'd never seen before. Palmetto everywhere...
The Ocala has numerous natural springs and shallow lakes. At the end of the first hot, humid day I appreciated a dip into 72-degree Juniper Springs. Aah...BLISS!
With temps in the upper 80s and high humidity, taking 2 days to complete all 50 miles made for a more enjoyable, laid back experience. Chris crewed me again (yes, I am a very lucky woman) and was able to meet me every 5-8 miles. It was still hot and humid enough that I ran with a bladder full of water.
After a quick sponge bath, I am done... and about to be attacked by a clump of Spanish moss!