Last year I found a really cool lost bridge in Richloam that turned out to be Old State Road 50. Today I went out looking for another one I had heard about that was supposed to be nearby. I followed the directions I was given and realized I had been there before. I had been backpacking that section with my buddy Andy a few hours before the State of Florida Division of Forestry fire bombed us. That is a story for another time though. I have also been there four wheeling in my Range Rover. I found where the bridge was supposed to have been, but there was no bridge. It is just a river crossing where jacked up 4×4 trucks go to play now. The road name is the only thing left designating that there was once a bridge there. The road is named Pole Bridge Road.
That was disappointing, but since I was in the woods I was going to explore. Last week Andy and I canoed, or better phrased, dragged a canoe down the Little Withlacoochee River
down river from U.S. 301 because there wasn’t enough water. Ironically, there was too much water up river for me to explore all the trails by dual sport. I will push my luck a little more when I have someone with me, but getting a stuck bike out of deep mud alone is quite the chore that I do not want to do again. I learned my lesson.
The Little Withlacoochee River is formed by the watershed of the Richloam State Forest. The land is swamp land. Sometimes the trail disappears under shallow water and sometimes the trail becomes the river and there is no longer a trail. The trick is determining when water can be crossed and when it can’t. Today, I was conservative in my exploits.
I know the area was logged out at one time, but there is still a considerable amount of old growth cypress trees that have huge girth and tower over the canopy. There were many times I got deep into the swamp and then out of caution stopped the bike and went deeper on foot following the tufts of high ground that would support me but not the bike. It is amazing how quickly I could get enveloped by the deep swamp. No sounds of people. No sounds of traffic. I could hear the splash of something big just out of sight. I could hear the swoosh of a heron taking off in flight. The sun was barely visible through the thick tree canopy and reflected green off of the plant life of the swamp. I find that places like this are where I am most at peace. There is a stillness that exists here where I can find my thoughts, where I can let the stress of life go.
Then I saw things I wanted to photograph. I saw the ripple of the creek over the rocks and the solitude of the scene. I raised the viewfinder to my eye and pressed the shutter release. Nothing happened. NO CARD INSERTED displayed across the camera screen. In my rush to get out I left my 32 GB memory card still in my computer. I had my 8 GB, but that was full. There I was in the woods trying to determine which photos were not worth keeping based on the small screen on the back of the camera. I hope I made the right decisions.
I caught a few photos while I was out there today, just not as many as I wanted to. I had an owl swoop down in front of me and fly ten feet in front for about fifty feet or so and then arc up to a tree branch. I stopped just past him and we watched each other for a while. I frantically erased photos to catch a few shots of him before he flew away.
I took another trail that dead ended into the swamp except for a thin trail that was just narrow enough to walk. So I did. What I didn’t do was stay quiet enough. I spooked up three huge deer, but I was not quick enough with the camera.
Many trails dead end into impassable waterways. I am still amazed at where the DR can take me. It will never win any races. It will never win any beauty contests, but it is a dependable and capable machine.
In the meantime, keep the rubber side down. It works better that way.