Monday, February 1, 2016

From Buckman Lock into Ocala National Forest

This is Arthur, the chief lock-keeper at Buckman Lock.  The guide book mentions his employee, Joe Lock, but he was bemused to see that the book didn't mention him.  Retired from thirty-seven years of building houses, Arthur seems to really enjoy his job and meeting the hikers that come through his demesne.

"Key West or Bust" - Day 103

My first order of business on this dreary morning was crossing Buckman Lock.  I had given Arthur a heads-up last night when I got permission from him to leave a car on the north side overnight.  So when I showed up on the south side at first light, he was waiting, called out "Are you ready to come across" even before I got to the push-button at the fence.

The big lock gates swung shut and Arthur accompanied me across, gave me a basic lesson in the operation of the lock, and wished me well on my trek.

Next came a four mile walk beside the Cross-Florida Barge Canal.  I went down and walked the shoreline for a bit.  Never did see a barge.

At the far end of this section is Rodman Dam where the canal opens into Lake Oklawaha.  The lake looked ten miles wide and ten inches deep.  It was full of stumps. 

Fisherman were there in abundance, and a company of resident vultures were hanging around waiting for their spoils.

On the far side of Rodman Dam is the trailhead at the north entrance to the huge expanse of Ocala National Forest.  The trailhead parking lot was nothing but ripped up soft sand, so I dared not use it.  I parked on the grassy berm of the dam where the trail leaves the road and headed in.

The trail through this part of the forest was pleasant walking in the woods--not much to show, not much to see, because it's 'green tunnel' walking.  But then it opened up and I found myself walking the park-like setting of a dry longleaf pine savanna.  A few scattered live oaks provided focal points.

As the pictures show, it was foggy and misty most of the day.  Rain had been forecast, and it finally came, falling steadily for the last two hours of my nineteen mile day.  The trusty Go-Lite umbrella got me through warm and dry, and I settled into the confines of my two-ton steel tent for the night and enjoyed the pattering on the roof.  Tomorrow it's into the heart of Ocala NF.

Here's a map of the day's wanderings with links to more photos.

Buckman Lock, Rodman Dam, Ocala NF at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Florida

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