Tag Archives: hiking

First Day Hike – the New Year means more hiking

The New Year started with a good first day hike

The first day of 2017 found me crossing the state on Highway 60 east of Lake Wales before reaching the Turnpike. While driving east, I noticed the familiar brown colored sign indicating another Great Florida Birding Trail location was around the corner. It was getting a late in the morning but I still decided to checkout the property. I was hoping to take a couple of quick photos before getting back on the road. The place looked interesting and the map on the information board indicated a couple of short trails. There was a trail leading to a campsite and another ending in an observation deck over a wetland. When water is near, things can get very interesting quickly.

A French company ran a logging operation around here a century ago

The site was named SUMICA. It stands for Societe Universelle Mining Industrie, Commerce et Agriculture which is the French company that had timber rights to the land. The town of SUMICA was established in 1917 and logging operations went on for 10 years. After logging was no longer viable, the town was abandoned in 1927. The hiking trail follows an old railroad bed raised above the surrounding wet prairies. The hike started on a wide open trail. Halfway into the trail, a canopy of trees turned the landscape into a great looking trail that I have not seen in South Florida before. Maybe it was the unseasonal warm temperatures or the bright sunlight of the late morning but there were not many birds around. Definitely a place that I want to explore again.

Hiking trail to the east. Campsite trail to the west.

Hiking trail to the east. Campsite trail to the west.

Trail starts open and wide.

Trail starts open and wide.

Tree canopy provides shade for the next half mile.

Tree canopy provides shade for the next half mile.

The end of the trail invites more explopration.

The end of the trail invites more exploration but the brush gets thick.

An observation deck is located at the end of the hiking trail.

An observation deck over a wetland is located at the end of the hiking trail.

I was not ready for these sandhill cranes flying over while I was trying to capture a landscape image.

I was not ready for these sandhill cranes flying over while I was trying to capture a landscape image.

Hiking in Florida’s natural areas during the dry season

It was a long hot summer but hiking weather is finally here

Hiking season is finally here. It was a long hot summer with record breaking temperatures. We also had to scramble and prepare for a late season storm in October. We were lucky that hurricane Matthew turned north over the Gulfstream instead of landing on our shore. Cooler drier weather has moved in and hopefully will remain until late in the Spring season.  The lower humidity, cooler temperatures, and higher winds will keep the mosquitos and other biting insects under control.  These are ideal conditions for exploring some of our nature preserves and going out on hikes. In spite of receiving no rain for over a month now, water levels remain high in some areas so I will have to return later to explore these trails.

The annual bird migrations are under way

Migratory birds are arriving every day. These birds as well as other local residents are putting up quite a show. The images below were captured during a few hours late one afternoon. The location is considered part of the Northeast Everglades Natural Area. The best areas are always surrounded by water. Some of the species you can expect to see include the Anhinga, Limpkin, and Ibis. I have found a few Red Belly Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) but they have avoided stepping under the good light so I could photograph them. Always assume there are alligators in these canals and lagoons. Look carefully along the shoreline of any body of water. Do not get too close. Gators can be faster than you think when crawling on dry land.


red belly woodpecker melanerpes carolinus hiking Florida

Red belly woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) are notorious for never facing the good light


observation deck sunset watch hiking Florida

This observation deck is a great location for watching sunsets. I will have to return on a good stormy day with dramatic skies.


american white ibis black wing tips hiking Florida

Black wing tips on an Ibis (Eudocimus albus) are only seen while flying


greater yellowlegs hiking Florida

This greater yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) was digging for food in a shallow lagoon


loop trail sign hiking Florida

The water level was still high so I will return later in the Winter to explore.


american white ibis hiking Florida

Birds were becoming more active as the sun was setting


Anhinga anhinga hiking Florida

I was able to get very close to this Anhinga


alligator Florida hiking

Gators are always watching you

Fire in the hills around the Cazorla Natural Park

Cazorla is located in the province of Jaén, Spain

The city of Cazorla is located in the province of Jaén, Spain. Cazorla is the base for visits to the Natural Park of Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. The park is the largest protected area in Spain. It was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve. There are many rivers and canyons here. A few rivers are born here including the Guadalquivir. The park is also home to an large number of plant and animal species. They also produce some of the finest Olive Oil in the world around here. After learning all of this, I knew I had to visit. I always like to combine cities and nature when I travel.
After a visit to the tourist office for a general orientation and map, I decided to start with a short easy hike not far from where I was staying near Plaza Santa Maria. As I was walking across the Plaza I saw everybody looking up at the hills above town. It turned out to be a brush fire that was spreading quickly with the stiff breeze. Forest fires have become a problem with changing weather patterns recently and are a serious threat to the park. I had my camera in the backpack and started to take photos. It is hard to believe that only a few meters above all this water, a fire could start. My hike got delayed with all the excitement. Once I got under way, I could not go far as the sun went down quickly behind some mountains. I will try to do the route again in a couple of days.

El area protegida mas grande de España

La ciudad de Cazorla se encuentra en la provincia de Jaén en España. Cazorla es la base para visitas al Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas. El parque es el area protegida mas grande de España y fue declarado reserve de la biosfera por UNESCO. Muchos ríos nacen aquí incluyendo el Guadalquivir. El parque contiene muchas especies de flora y fauna. Por esta zona producen uno de los mejores aceites de Oliva en el mundo. Luego de conocer todos estos datos, yo sabia que tenia que visitar el parque. Siempre me gusta combinar visitas a ciudades con caminatas por la naturaleza.
Luego de orientarme y conseguir un mapa en la oficina de turismo, decidí comenzar con un sendero corto que salía desde el mismo pueblo cerca de la Plaza Santa María. Al caminar por la Plaza, me fijé que todo el mundo miraba hacia el monte. Resultó ser un fuego forestal no muy grande pero que parecía crecer rapidamente con un viento fuerte. Los incendios forestales se han vuelto un problema para el parque con el cambio climático. Esta vez cargaba con mi camara en la mochila y comencé a tomar fotos. Es dificil creer que a solo unos metros mas abajo de este incendio corre un río. Mi caminata se demoró un poco con todo el show. El sol se ocultaba rápidamente detrás de un monte y no pude terminar el sendero. Intentaré terminar el sendero en unos días.


Fire retardant sprayed by plane


The first helicopter on the scene with water bucket


A second helicopter also sprayed water


A small waterfall on the Cerezuelo river close to town

Day trip to the Priorat wine region of Southern Catalunya

Walking in The Priorat wine region

The Priorat region is close to Barcelona and Tarragona and is one of the best regions for wine in Spain. My friends at The Spain Scoop recently published my story on a day trip that I took while visiting Southern Catalunya.
Go check it out!

Here are a couple more photos from the tour which was expertly guided by Txell from El Brogit Guiatges. El Brogit Guiatges is a small local ecotourism guide service that offers activities in the mountains of Southern Catalunya. I would highly recommend their services. This is the kind of business I like to support when I travel.

You can click here to continue reading the story at The Spain Scoop.

You can click here to explore your hiking options at El Brogit Guiatges.


Caminando entre uvas en el Priorat

La region del Priorat se encuentra en la provincia de Tarragona no muy lejos al sur de Barcelona . Es una de las mejores regiones de vino en España. Mis amigos en The Spain Scoop recientemente publicaron un relato de mi excursión por estos viñedos del sur de Catalunya. Siguan el enlace que está muy bueno.

Aquí les dejo un par de imágenes más de la región. Nuestra guía nos llevó por toda la región y pudimos recorrer mucho combinando coche con un poco de senderismo.
Contratamos a Txell de El Brogit Guiatges através de su sitio web. El Brogit Guiatges es una pequeña empresa local especializada en turismo ecológico en las montañas del sur de Catalunya. Les recomiendo sus servicios de excursiones. Este es el tipo de empresa que me gusta patrocinar cuando viajo.

Pueden continuar con el relato aquí en The Spain Scoop.

Pueden explorar las opciones de senderismo aquí en El Brogit Guiatges.


The Cellar Coop in Falset.

The Cellar Coop in Falset. Founded in 1919, the modernist style Bodega was designed by architect Cèsar Martinell which trained under Gaudí.

Carthusian monastery ruins at the Cartoixa de Escaladei

Carthusian monastery ruins at the Cartoixa de Escaladei

Spanish Civil War Observatory over the  Ebro River.

Spanish Civil War Observatory over the Ebro River.

Agrobotiga in Vilella Baixa

Agrobotiga in Vilella Baixa

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