I just returned from one of my organized hikes in Torreya State Park in Northwest Florida. Torreya is one on my favorite places to hike.
The rumor is that the Apalachicola River Basin is the site of the original garden of Eden because of the diversity of plant life. Among the diversity of plants in the park is the Torreya Tree. The Torreya only grows in three places world wide. I have heard that the Eden proponents contend that the Torreya Tree is also known as gopher wood and was instrumental in the construction of Noah's Ark. Another part of the story is a biblical passage that describes the convergence of three rivers. In this area we have the Flint and Chattahoochee converging to form the Apalachicola River. While hiking at Torreya one may indeed be walking in the footsteps of Adam and Eve.
I don’t know about the biblical possibilities but I will testify that Torreya is a little piece of heaven on earth. There is a scad over 14 miles of trail in the park to explore and three primitive camp sites scattered about. One can mix and match the hikes for distance between camp sites. The trails consist of two 7 mile loop trails and a short trail/hike from Weeping Ridge to the Weeping Ridge Falls. Much of the original 7 mile Torreya Trail parallels the Chattahoochee River. As I said in a previous TR on the area, if you look at a topographic map it looks as if God may have reached down and pinched the earth in the area to give it terrain.
Spring is in bloom in Torreya
Regardless of the rumors I did find the serpent. This grass snake was laying across the trail and I think I startled one of my hiking partners when I stuck out my arm and said excitedly “Snake!” He came back even more excitedly, frightened wise and exclaimed “Where!!!” I was afraid for a moment that I was going to have to hike back to the cars to get my hiking partner as he was more than a little startled.
Rusty said that he would never have seen the snake as it was camouflaged well. I spotted two snakes on this trip and was told by another hiker of a location where several moccasins had been sunning themselves the day before. On Sunday I hiked down to the location amongst the rocks but they did not make an appearance for me on this date. I did get to see a black racer for a brief moment before he flowed away like liquid mercury into the undergrowth.
I don’t like to hotspot camp sites but if you have only one night in the park, Rock Bluff is the place to be. The site is on a bluff high above the Apalachicola River and offers some of the best, most scenic views in the park.
View of my tent at the Rock Bluff site on a previous trip
This weekend’s hike was another of the group hikes that I have been organizing of late. This weekend we had five hikers in our party with four of us staying for the overnighter. I made the call on this location to offer opportunities for beginners to get involved as the backpack portion was roughly one mile in with an additional 7 miles of hiking after camp was set up to complete the loop. What I got was a group of seasoned hiker with a wealth of experience among the group.
My Sleeping Quarters
Linda is an AT veteran, having completed nearly 80% of the AT during her thru-hike attempt. Her attempt was cut short when Achilles tendonitis issues forced her off of the trail for recovery...in an attempt to complete the hike before winter caught her she moved to Katadhin and hiked southbound to move away from the oncoming winter. At last she was driven from the trail as winter set in. She returns from time to time to try to finish the section she missed and has nearly completed the whole thing. Linda has hiked in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and others and has recently returned from a trip to Bali.
Mike is a forum member and has hiked many areas in the country including Alaska, RMNP among other places and his greatest passion is the Smoky Mountains. He is currently planning a hike in Scotland. Mike owns the place where I captured the turtle hatching photos from last year.
Joe is a tinkerer and builds his own stoves and likes to experiment with them. Joe is one of my kayak and hiking partners and is retired. Joe has hiked locally and in the Appalachians and is a wealth of knowledge on many hiking locals and equipment.
It is an incredible experience to sit around a campfire and listen to the stories that are toss about when the four of us get together.
Torreya made just the right back drop for our weekend trek.
Unusual Tree Growth
I believe this is known as a Luna Moth
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