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PUrgatory on Earth: Bridge from Purgatory to Melons

From: gordyhawkins
Sent on: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 9:49 AM

We met at the McDonald's in Belleview.  Three of the eight showed.  Not a problem, a very comfortable threesome.  We were fixin' to face our fate, to purge our souls of the malfeasance we created in the past year through thought, word, and deed. That was the agenda. The purgatory on earth catharsis. 
But the weather conditions on the day of the hike came through without late July conditions. The storms that were to deluge us must have thought we were on London time.  There was some heat, some humidity, and some mosquitoes and ticks,  but all in all we were only on the outer fringes of purgatory.  Not a bad deal.
We drove to the Marjorie Harris Carr Trailhead to leave a vehicle and then drove to our starting point seven miles to the west.  The route starts out flat through a copse of young pines.  Within half a mile we entered the world of the Florida Greenway and descended into the ditch and history of the Cross Florida Barge Canal.  From the 1820s, there were dreams of creating a water route across Florida, especially when the Erie Canal showed such promise.  Throughout the years, the Corps of Engineers had actually created 28 possible routes including Georgia, Lake Okeechobee, Apalachicola and on  to the Gulf.  The final route was in 1932 to be from Jacksonville to the Gulf of Mexico near Yankeetown, with significant alterations to the St Johns, Ocklawaha and Withlacoochee Rivers.  There were two periods of time when construction was done:[masked] and 1964 -1971.  And this construction  ended up inadvertently creating the possibility for this  wonderful hiking trail.
This part of the Florida Greenway is actually part of the western corridor of the Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST). It is covered with reddish-brown pine needles.  There are ups and downs and hills that are great for awakening your quadriceps.  It is shaded almost the whole way with sunlight creeping through the tree branches and checkering the ground.  Limestone blocks are periodically visible.  There are a few concrete platforms that remain on the ground from years past when construction was underway.  You cross under a bridge with a road above and several miles later cross the Marjorie Harris Carr Land Bridge over I-75.  Through a fence opening between concrete walls, you are able to look down on the traffic.  There are trees and shrubs planted on this bridge. After crossing the bridge we took a blue diversion route and walked through an oak forest with some gigantic trees and overhangs.  This trail eventually merges with the Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) at the Marjorie Harris Carr Trailhead, our destination.  The blue route added an extra mile so the final mileage was 8.2.
A great day to be out on Florida trails.  A great day to absorb nature.  A great day to enjoy the company of others who love the outdoors.  And a great day to enjoy cool, seedless watermelon, tasty with the juice dripping down the chin.

And we are Patty, Thom, and Gordy


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