Soon after emerging from the bridge, the boardwalk empties into a shaded parking lot where a broad-winged hawk was sitting on a low-hanging branch. He did not flinch as I approached holding my camera; however, when I lifted it to snap a picture, he went airborne in the beat of an eye and vanished into the trees.
And when I made it to the trail on the opposite side of the parking lot, I saw a pair of wood ducks swimming in a creek. That would seem to be the perfect place to take a picture, because shouldn’t water slow a creature down? However -- there’s that word again -- when they saw me they managed to go from floating to flying with stunning speed.
With that, I decided to forge ahead and forget about trying to photograph the animals. A minute later I arrived at a live oak with thick, green resurrection ferns growing on its trunk. Knowing that our area’s resurrections had been brown just a week or two before, I interpreted this as a sign of impending spring:
Back on December 6th I wrote about an intersection of trails “from which the Main Trail turns south; the Heartbreak Ridge Trail goes east; and an unnamed side trail goes north…” As I passed the ferns two Saturdays ago, I was walking on the Main Trail and heading for that intersection, eager to check out the Heartbreak Ridge since I skipped it on my prior visit.
After travelling east through pine flatwoods, the Main Trail arrives at the intersection a half-mile from the parking lot, at a spot where the forest abruptly switches from a dry one dominated by softwoods to a damp one dominated by hardwoods. The mucky earth is scoured by the wallows of wild boars:
This forest becomes so dense you could be standing next to a large animal and not see it:
That morning, it was very obvious that some of its sights were early signs of spring:
If you hike the Heartbreak Ridge Trail, you will notice that the sign describes it as “extremely difficult.” This being
Approximately five minutes after stepping onto the Heartbreak Ridge Trail you reach an unsigned intersection with another trail. Continuing straight, the Heartbreak Ridge crosses one of its two wooden footbridges before shifting its direction southward:
It took me twenty minutes to hike the entirety of the Heartbreak Ridge. It ends by emptying onto another trail, which I can only assume is the Main Trail because there was no sign to identify it.
I would have kept going to determine whether this “new” trail was indeed the Main Trail, but I had promised to be home at an early hour, so I turned around and made my way back through the morning mist, listening to the insistent chatter of squirrels -- one of whom was kind enough to alleviate my earlier frustration by allowing me to take his picture: