Bur marigolds and alligators

I think late November and early December is the most beautiful time at Circle B Bar Reserve.

A few of the critters. I thought I had found a 2 headed gator but just realized they were just passing by.

Traffic jam on the trails. Some of the trails are heavily populated but there are also some quieter ones as well that you can walk to be alone,

A beautiful start to the day.

SkyWatch Friday

Mueller State Park

We stopped at the Visitor’s Center before hitting a trail.  View from the parking lot at the center above.

The Visitor’s Center above looked like what you would expect from a Colorado park.

A few of the critters at the top of a trail.  I see yellow-bellied sapsuckers in Florida in the winter but this was the first one I had seen in his summer breeding colors. NOW I know why they call it a “yellow-bellied” sapsucker.

Heading down the trail, we only walked for about an hour. It was late in the afternoon and we didn’t want to drive back to Colorado Springs in the dark.  There’s over 55 miles of trails here. All have stations to sign in and out when you are hiking the specific trail.  It is bear country. The visitor center had a sign that one of the trails was closed for the day due to a bear on the trail that morning.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Staying the Same and Changing at the same time

From the parking lot at Circle B Bar Reserve. The reserve had only been open a few days since Hurricane Irma had hit when I made the trip over to walk the trails. It was closed for almost 6 weeks after the hurricane due to so much damage on the trails.  The most popular trail is still closed since part of the trail was washed out (they don’t want people wading in the swamp with the alligators, go figure!). The one thing I noticed immediately was the lack of leaves on most of the trees around the parking lot. The wind stripped them all away. The above trees were full of green leaves before Irma. It made parts of the park look like the dead of winter even though the weather had still been in the 80’s.

There was still a lot of moss in some of the trees as the sun was coming up over Heron Hideout Trail.

The big dead trees along Marsh Rabbit Run trail were still standing.

Looking across the marsh, I knew it was going to be a perfect morning out.

The trails had downed trees all long the way. It must have taken them a while to move all of those fallen trees off the trail.  The moss still covered the ones that were still standing.

People who come here often complain about the amount of people who now come to the park, especially after the video of the alligator crossing the trial.  It is a free public park after all. If you can get here early in the morning, it’s still a magical place. I like to walk the trails when it’s very quiet. As the big families are heading in right before lunch, I’m heading home for lunch so it works out.

SkyWatch Friday

Here comes the sun

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I knew it was going to be a good morning when I walked out on the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve at 8am and this was the view.

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I had not been out here since May so it was great to get out and walk around without it being terribly hot.

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The trails were quiet except for the birds making noise. The limpkins and phoebes were loud. It felt like a lot more moss had grown on trees.

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A very large bee hive right on the trail.

I only had my 300mm lens with me so all of these were taken with my Iphone.  That bee hive was so close that I would have only gotten an inch of it with my longer lens.  I’m looking forward to lots of long walks here this winter.

SkyWatch Friday

Fall throwback

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In 2010 Brett and I went to Atlanta in early November to celebrate his 50th birthday with his family. The weather was perfect and the leaves were at their fall peak colors. We spent a day hiking Amicalola Falls in north Georgia. We took his niece and nephew with us and hiked the main trail and then up the 600+ stairs to get to the top of the falls. We made a lot of stops along the way to take pictures. Nathaniel was taking a break on the stairs and taking pictures of the water. After having a snack and walking around the top of the falls, we headed back down. The color of the leaves were amazing and I look back on this day with awe. Not only for the leaves but did we really climb all those stairs?  It would probably be a little harder to do 6 years later. Since Brett’s family moved down here we rarely get to Atlanta. I think I need to plan a trip next fall to re-climb those stairs.

Take a camera photo tour of Marsh Rabbit Run trail.

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Views from the intersection of Marsh Rabbit Run Trail and Heron Hideout Trail.

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Looking down the channels from the blind.

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Views from the end of Marsh Rabbit run trail. This was Wading Bird Way trail. The yellow sign says “Do NOT bother the gators, or any other wildlife.” It also says that if an alligator is sleeping on the trail, to turn around and go back the other way (lots of other trails to take instead). You are not to try and wake him up and get him to move or try and step over him. It was a quiet morning in early March. I was the only one on the trail.

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Heading back on Marsh Rabbit Run trail, you can see the raised dirt trail with water on both sides. There’s gators in that water so you have to watch where you’re going in case one of them walks up on the trail.

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The trees along the trail are full of moss.

A view of one small section of Circle B Bar Reserve  in Lakeland Florida. This was early in the morning. By 10am the trails are usually full of people.

Take a camera phone tour of the “Bar”

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Driving down the winding road to get to the parking lot at Circle B Bar Reserve.

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These were all taken on Alligator Alley trail. At one end of the trail, you can see across Lake Hancock. The sun peaked out a few times but most of the morning was cloudy.

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At the main intersection. If I go left it takes me to Eagles Roost trail and away from the water. If I go straight, I head down Marsh Rabbit Run trail. It’s a long trail with water on both sides. At the end of that trail, you end up on Wading Bird Way trail. If I go right, walking along Heron Hideout trail, you come back to the main parking area. Or, I could turn around and go back down Alligator Alley. I usually end up walking between 5 and 7 miles in the morning.

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Standing on Heron Hideout trail, I was looking south towards the other end of the park.

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Another view of the main intersection.  “All trails lead back to here.” Or at least the most traveled ones do. There are a few other trails in the park that are away from any water.

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Heading back to the parking area and the Nature Center. The dark clouds were moving in and the second I got in my car it started to rain. I’m not sure how I ended with so many pictures and not many people in them. When I first got there at 8am there were just a few people there. When I left right before noon, there were tons of people coming in and several boy scout troops heading out to the trails. It’s worth getting up early to get my walk in before the crowds. All of these were taken with my Iphone.  I hope you enjoyed a tiny peek at one of my favorite places to walk.

A quick video of one of the marshes.  The tree swallows were whizzing by me very quickly.

SkyWatch Friday