Thursday, December 18, 2014

Backpack trip: Concession Stand Camp Green Swamp

The Florida Trail would take us to a camping adventure
I had an opportunity to travel to the Green Swamp wilderness west track to do an overnight back country backpacking trip. There is a group of us that have a FaceBook group page and it was organized by Nick. I was hoping to have all of us hike to the campsite as a group but it was not to be. Kevin and Teri were doing something that day, and Nick was feeding the homeless. I did not even know that Rob was going to make it but it would be well after dark before he could make it. No problem. Rob is retired Army and teaches ROTC. He thrives in the woods at night

The beauty of the sand pine forest along the Florida Trail
I was not to believe the beauty I was witnessing. The topography changed from cypress swamp to this sand pine forest. This December day was cool, dry, and had a clear blue sky. It was the perfect day to be doing this. The temps tonight would get into the forties out here and I was prepared with layers of sweat shirts. Hopefully, we will have a raging fire and that will keep us warm.

My gear
After a couple hours, there was a problem. I was entering a hilly area (there are hills in Florida) and still no damn sight of the camp sign. I did not think I was lost because the orange blazes were still on the trees. I found it hard to believe I had not walked far enough. The sun was setting and I was getting ready to spend the night out here. I had yet to run into anyone from the group. This just underscores that people should not take theses things lightly. If you are a group, then be one. If for no other reason then safety. I could have gotten into trouble and nobody would have known it.
This was the spot I had picked and the fire wood
What I did not know was I was only 100 feet from the trail sign. I just did not have it in me to keep going without being sure I was headed in the right direction. I pulled out my new T-MOBILE phone to see if it got reception out here and it did. I got a hold of Kevin. The entire gang was at the trail head and the sun was setting. Great. This was not really how I was thinking it was going to be. I wanted to have time to relax at camp during the daylight.
The sun was setting
I finally heard Nick's call and he found me. This is when I learned that camp was just on the other side of the bushes and Teri and Kevin were already there. Wow! I had done it but did not know it. I was glad to see another human being.
Getting our campfire going
Kevin had already found some firewood and Nick used his fire starter to get it going. It was getting dark and we had a lot to do. We stacked wood like crazy. It was going to be cold tonight folks and we were going to need it. Plus, I just like a good campfire.
Teri was with Kevin but they were going to have leave soon.
I was glad Kevin and Teri made it. I just really wish they could have stayed the night. It was going to be crystal clear and I know they are UFO investigators. In fact, the go to conventions all over the country.
There was also a meteor shower tonight with no moon and cold skies. The absolute perfect combination. I don't know what anyone could want. I did not know about the meteor shower. It happens every year on this date as the earth moves through the remnants of a comet of long ago. Next year I will be better prepared.

Sunset from the camp

There was a lake to the west of the camp and another pond in the back. This was a nice backdrop for the setting sun on such a clear winter night in Florida. It was a lot of hard work to get out here but there was no place else I would have rather been. The camp was in a natural valley within the hills. It felt cozy. Simply fantastic. 

Kevin and Teri had to go and we said our goodbyes. But before they left, something was calling back to Teri. It sounded like and owl. There is a theory that Bigfoot copies the sounds of nature. Could it have been Bigfoot last night? Wow!
Our campfire after dark
It was so cold we really did not do any exploring that night, which we always do. Rob found the camp but that was only after Nick went got him after he missed the FT sign in the dark.

We got a special treat that night. Not only did we hear two very loud coyote kills in the darkness but the Geminid meteor shower was tonight. There would be about 120 shooting stars and hour lasting all night. I have an ap on phone that is for star gazing and it will at least line you up with the constilations and planets. I was facing due east and that was were all the action was coming from...the consitlation Gemini.
It was a sight to see

In the morning we cooked breakfast and "highbrow coffee." It was wonderful. We did find the trail sign that was my nemeses yesterday. It was cold when we climbed out of our sleeping bags but as the sun came up we ended up in short sleeves.
Nick and Rob
I will find this sign next time
We went down to the lake next to the camp and it was perfect for photography. The leaves had fallen off the Cypress trees and the visibility was excellent. When you live in Florida year round, you really look forward to this time of year when you can get out and go to these places.
A nice view of the swamps

This is the morning campfire that we made breakfast on. We boiled water and I cooked hot dogs. Nick bid sausage and bacon. It was so cold last night we did not need ice.

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