Sunday, December 29, 2013

Snake Bight Bike Ride

Yesterday when we were at the Visitor Center the Ranger told us about a great bike ride down the Snake Bight Trail (a hiking trail that is open to bikes) to a view of the Florida Bay.  (A bight is bay within a bay) It was only 2 miles from the park road to the Snake Bight overlook so we’d planned to make a loop with the Rowdy Bend trail which was also open to bikes.   We also decided to ride from the campground to give us more miles – it would be about 16 miles round trip. 

Before we left I applied 100% Deet bug repellent to my shoes, pants and shirt! 

The portion on the road was rather boring and over 1/2 of it was what we rode last night.  I was excited about getting off the main road and seeing more of the park.  The trail description had said that the trail went by a canal and you could see alligators and birds and all sorts of stuff.

We reached the parking area and turned off the road and saw that there was a gate across the trail so we got off our bikes to walk them around the gate and instantly the mosquitoes attacked.  It was almost a swarm.  I was swatting left and right.  Dad was frantically trying to get the bug spray out of his backpack. I hadn’t brought any because I felt I’d applied more than enough before I left!  Guess not.  As Dad is spraying himself down again I looked at my leg there were about 10 mosquitoes all biting me on the same place!  He handed me the spray and I sprayed them directly and they died!  I was now coated with Deet – it was even dripping off my helmet! 

Once we got moving though, the mosquitoes weren’t a problem.  Unless you stopped moving, in which case you were fair game and got eaten alive. 

The problem once we were moving was the spider webs.  I was in front and every few feet I’d hit a web and scream!  When you are riding a bike you can’t swat at the webs once you hit them or you wreck your bike!  Especially on an “off road” trail where there are roots and logs and all sorts of stuff on the ground!

The trail at first was wide and smooth and soon it became overgrown with sawgrass and the trail was narrow and harder to navigate.   It was in here where we decided that we weren’t going to try Rowdy Bend – the Ranger had told us that it was probably overgrown and if the “cleared” trail was a mess then that one probably was worse. 

Soon the sawgrass thinned and the trail opened up…into a mud flat!  Slippery, thick, hard to ride through mud.  Luckily this section was only a few feet long before we hit the boardwalk at the end of the trail. 

It was low tide and we could see a bunch of birds!







We applied more Deet before we headed back! The ride back went fast and soon we were back at the road, with only a few more mosquito bites.   Despite the bugs, it was a pretty trail…we didn’t get very many pictures because if you stopped you risked your life!

P1080621P1080622P1080625   The canal  was neat looking and I’m sure there were interesting things in it, but there was no way to look and ride and you couldn’t stop.  I have no idea how anyone hikes that trail!

On our way back to the campground we stopped at the Marina where Mom had seen the crocodile yesterday to see if we could see it.  Sure enough, he/she was hanging out just where Mom had said.  I didn’t get a very good picture.

P1140809We were about a 1/2 mile from the campground when it started to rain.   The rain continued for over an hour!  This worked for us though… I had chores to do so I could be ready to leave and I needed another shower to wash off the Deet (when I did wash my hair the Deet flowed right off my head and into my eyes!  I rinsed it out quickly but, seriously…how much Deet does one need?  And, despite being covered in Deet, I’m *still* covered with bites! ugh!).  We got kicked out of the campground at 12:15 (checkout was 12) and made our way back to Homestead. 

I saw this sign on the way and and had to get a picture of it on the way out…

P1140812Elevation: 3 ft!  WOW.  Such a difference from this summer in Colorado when we were over 12K ft! 

On the way out we had to make one last stop at Robert is Here!  One last Key Lime Milkshake fix! YUM!  While we were in line we were chatting with the person behind us – he’d moved to Homestead about a year ago from Frederick, MD.  He’d graduated from West Springfield!

After milkshakes it was time to head to Big Cypress to Midway campground.  Tomorrow we are biking Shark Valley.  Along US 41 there’s a canal and there were tons of birds and probably alligators – very distracting to try and drive and look at the birds and try and distinguish logs from alligators.  I missed the turn to the campground and went to the Visitor Center where they have several alligators hanging out so got some pictures.  Also walked maybe a 1/4 mile on the Florida National Scenic Trail!

Edited to add: When I went to bed I surveyed the mosquito bite situation – I had over 20 bites on my upper arms and lower legs, then on the backs of each of my thighs there was a solid section of wall to wall bites – you can’t distinguish one from another!  They go from mid-thigh to  where I was sitting on my bike seat.  Then there’s a line of more bug bites right along my waist on my back!  It reminds me of something that might happen to someone in a Carl Hiaasen book!   And it makes me wonder just how many mosquito bites a person can sustain before it becomes a big issue!

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