• Shannon

Enchanted Forest Sanctuary

Since my last post I’ve struggled to keep up with a very long To Do List. I managed to pass my Personal Trainer Certification exam, began studying for my Fitness Nutrition Specialist certification, launched my fitness website, re-vamped this blog, got the kids back in school, rescued a few cats and got myself back on a hiking trail. There was some other stuff in there, but those were the highlights.

I’ve had some sciatic issues which have kept me out of the gym for a week, so I’ve gone outside for my cardio. This has been good for me. Some of my best thinking is done on a trail. The two areas I hiked recently did not allow dogs, so they had to stay behind. One of these areas is the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary. Covering 470 acres, the sanctuary is home to an abundance of plant and animal life. The network of trails winds through the sanctuary and around and over the historic Addison/Ellis Canal. What was once the historic Hernandez-Capron Trail linking forts in St. Augustine and Fort Pierce runs through this area. You can almost feel the Florida history here. They have a wonderful Education Center there and events are held year round. The whole family enjoys their Earth Day and Fall festivals.

I’ve hiked here many times. It’s close, the trails are short and when you’re desperate to feel like you’re enveloped in the woods, it will do. Despite the fact that you can hear the cars on the road nearby, you still feel as if you’re immersed deep in the woods at several points along the trail system. The lower lying areas have boardwalks and there are a few bridges crossing over the canal. There are spots with covered benches and the like, but my favorite parts of the trail are the ones that have none of these. I prefer my trails as wild as possible.

Tree cover is plentiful out there. Lizards and other small creatures scurry off the trail as you pass, and every so often you might do a double take upon hearing a rustling in a nearby shrub. The more exposed scrub areas are where I’ve seen tortoises. Gopher tortoises inhabit the area, and it’s rare not to see one on an outing there. Their burrows are everywhere and care must be taken not to step in one. There are also deer and bobcat but I’ve yet to see them on any of my visits. Like the alligators, I’m sure they’re watching.

Gopher Tortoise seen along the trail

Time For Reflection

As I followed the winding trail I was reminded of my attempted section hike of the Appalachian Trail a few years ago. I was about 70 pounds heavier, my pack weighed way too much and I ended up leaving the trail early. I’d vowed to return the following year but I ended up having more surgeries and here we are, about 3 years having gone by.

I don’t know how to explain the pull of the trail. I know many folks know exactly what I mean. It’s like a deep ache. I feel like I need to be out there. So with cooler weather approaching, I’m making my hike list. Although I’m used to working out a lot, I need to train for the mountains. Lifting and climbing a mountain are not exactly the same things. I remember climbing Springer Mountain and thinking “What the hell have I done?” It was a tough section of trail. To date it is the hardest hike I have ever done. I am in much better shape now, but training for elevation is a little tricky when you are from Florida. Swimming, cycling, running, stair machines–all these with a loaded pack are helpful when training for elevation. Even though Springer Mountain is only just shy of 4,000 feet, it may as well have been 10,000 to this girl from the flat east coast of Florida. I was ill-prepared.

Gear Changes

I am thinking of switching from a hammock system to a tent, mainly due to my back and sciatic issues, which can be made worse by the rounding of the back in the hammock. I would be very interested to hear from others who have switched from a hammock to a tent for this reason, and how it worked out.

I registered for an upcoming class (foraging) at REI, so watch our social media for details on that. It’s sure to be a fun time! While there I need to look into a new pack. I parted with my Osprey Exos 58 so I’m researching my next one. So with all of these things, the cooler weather approaching and my hiking calendar filling up, I’m feeling a bit more myself. I’m ready to get out there. The mountains have been calling for quite a long time.

#Floridahistory #florida #trails #featured #HernandezCapronTrail #AddisonEllisCanal #EnchantedForestSanctuary #floridatrails #hike #gophertortoise #floridahikes #hiking

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