Fog wrapped itself around the forest shortly before seven a.m. on Saturday. After a two-month absence, I was happy to be back in Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve and checking out some trails I skipped during prior visits.
I stepped onto the Main Trail from the same trailhead mentioned in my November 29th post, and within seconds the scenery inverted the message of that old saying about missing the forest for the trees. This forest was foggy, all right, but now that I was seeing it up close, fog became the last thing I noticed. Instead I was struck by all the little things that usually get overlooked, like contours on bark and dew drops on leaves:
There were signs that spring is knocking on our door. While many of the deciduous trees remained leafless, some were sporting bright green leaf buds, and new maple leaves were especially abundant. A scattering of shed blossoms on the ground revealed that the Carolina jessamine, a tree-faring vine, has already completed its yearly bloom:
A few minutes from the trailhead I came to a T intersection and turned left, onto a side trail that my November 29th post described as going “south to points that are unknown to me.” On this day I was going to find out what those points are.
A chorus of birdsong lightened the mood as the trail traveled downhill into a glade. Although I am not typically given to thoughts of fantasy, the word “enchanting” is what came to mind when I saw the look of its emerald hue in the fog-softened light. Having heard Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” the night before, I thought of that song’s allusions to Tolkien and lyrics about “days of old when magic filled the air.”
About two-tenths of a mile after turning onto this trail I arrived at the
I opted to go right and head in the opposite direction from the road. A plump red cardinal flitted around a riverside bush and my attempts to photograph him were not successful. Fortunately, the trail’s faint route proved to be a good photo subject in its own right, with water to its left and open woods to its right:
Eventually it petered out among a cluster of cypress knees. Navigation-wise, it would have been easy to keep walking since all the trail was doing was following the river; however, knowing this area is home to large numbers of alligators and cottonmouths, I did an about face after going only 50 or so steps beyond the blazed path.
After all, this was not the only trail I wanted to explore that morning. And with that in mind, I started heading east…