The trail looked like the home of Swamp Thing and I expected to see some gators and snakes, but as it often is in Florida, the most menacing thing I saw were a mosquitoes.
This part of the trip allowed me to gain a new appreciation for Florida’s unique beauty. It was peaceful, it was shady, it was challenging and it was like nothing I’d ever ridden before. Unfortunately, the swap trail shot me out on a dusty road within the park and the second half of the journey would be after about 2 miles on the hot road.
This road bisected a typical Florida “desert” (more on that later). I am man enough to say, that at this stage of the game, my decision making went downhill rather quickly for I had the opportunity to take a shortcut back to the car. However, I had just finish the fun part of the ride and hoped the second portion would be just as exhilarating. That hope outweighed the fact that I was out of water and getting a sunburn.
So I ride on the dirt road for a long while stopping briefly to look at the map and get a few bug bites. At one point I had to forge a stream, which was about a foot deep and probably 60 feet wide. I finally got to the place where I thought I’d pick the trail back up and get out of the punishing sun. However, the map was unhelpful and I found myself sitting on my bike taking a break trying to decide if I should just complete the loop on the road, or search for the trail.
There is no water around, so I’m able to rest a little longer than usual because there were no bugs. By now, I’ve got the elastic of my shirt over my ears with the rest of my shirt flopped on my back kind of Lawrence of Arabia-esk to protect my ears from burning off. Completely unrepentantly, I look up and see this man walking towards me about 50 feet away. He’s got on dark jeans, a long sleeve sweater and a black ball cap. So I talk with this guy a little bit and couldn’t quite decide if he was legit or not. Anyway, I tell him I’m looking for the path that loops back around to the parking lot and he doesn’t seem to think it exists. He says I just want to take the road back. Well low and behold we both happen to see trail blazes going off in the direction I would expect them to go. The strange guy assures me that I don’t want to go that way but that I want to take the road back. Oh yeah, and he didn’t have any water, only Pepsi. What do I do? I wait till he walks around the corner and I take the path following the blazes.