Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is one of Florida’s oldest state parks. It was developed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. You can read more about the CCC here: https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/civilian-conservation-corps. They helped build many of Florida’s state parks from 1933 through the beginning of World War II.
Are you wanting to take a hike with me, but you’re not sure what kind of hikes I offer? Let me take a few moments to sum it up and help clarify what’s available. I offer two free hikes per month, in addition to private hikes on an appointment only basis.
What’s the difference between a guided hike and a photo walk?
As a Florida Master Naturalist, my main goal is to get people out in nature and to help them appreciate all the awesomeness Florida has to offer. On guided hikes, we stop a lot to talk about various plants and animals we see along the way. These hikes are typically 2-5 miles long. Questions are encouraged. It’s always fun when there are other experts on these hikes to point out things I might miss. Guided hikes always take place on the 3rd Sunday of each month and are free of charge. https://rhphotoadventures.com/free-monthly-hikes/
If you’re looking to get your camera out and find some beautiful wildflowers, reptiles, or birds to shoot, these walks are for you. Whether you have a professional DSLR or just the camera on your phone, these walks are designed to encourage photographers to get together and enjoy nature. We’ll stop often, whenever anybody sees something they’d like to grab a photo of. These walks are generally shorter, 1-3 miles. They are held on the first Saturday of each month and are also free of charge. https://rhphotoadventures.com/photo-walks/
Private Guided Hikes
A perfect adventure for your out of town guests, these hikes are just for you and your guests, up to ten people. As a private, personalized hike, you can choose the pace and the direction you would like to go – photo walk or guided hike. You can also choose from several parks and preserves to find just the ecosystem system you’re looking for. These hikes cost $99.99 for up to three hours of hiking. More information can be found here: https://rhphotoadventures.com/private-guided-hikes/
How can you help support the continuation of these hikes?
I attend various art shows around Florida throughout the year to sell prints. These prints are also available online in a wide variety of formats (wall art, photo mugs, calendars, etc.) at https://prints.rhphotoadventures.com/. I would love to just be able to offer free hikes all the time just to get people out there in nature, unfortunately that doesn’t help pay the bills. 🙂 So to help offset costs and pay for my time, I offer the private hikes and photo prints. I appreciate your support very much! I couldn’t do what I do without it! If you’re looking for a print of a specific plant or animal, I just might have it available so please feel free to ask. I also take commissions if you need me to go find a certain photo to meet your decorating needs.
As always, thank you for exploring with me and I look forward to seeing you on the trails!
August brought a grand adventure along the Appalachian Trail. I’ve always wanted to hike all 2190 miles of the trail at once, but alas, I still have all these grown up responsibilities that prevent me from running off on a six or seven month long adventure. So I’ve decided to hike the trail in sections. This section took me through Hot Springs, NC up to Erwin, Tennessee, after which I skipped Virginia so I could complete the whole state of Maryland.
I’ve been back for two days, and I’m already planning my next section. But for this upcoming winter season I’ll switch gears and work on completing the Florida Trail bit by bit.
There’s so much fun stuff coming up! I’m working on something very exciting for December – a winter camp for adults! It’s like summer camp, but it’s only for grown-ups and you’re invited! We’ll have various speakers and presenters teaching us about all things camping and Florida nature. We’ll also have s’mores, chili, and banana boats (oh yum!). We’ll have three hikes to show you the various types of hikes I offer, one photo walk, a guided interpretive hike, and just a regular hike. The dates are December 8-11 and the cost is $40. Thursday will be a low key day with no activities planned, so if you can only make it for the weekend, that’s okay! Sign up on Facebook here: https://fb.me/e/1DhJ9zr3o Or on Meetup here: https://www.meetup.com/rh-photo-adventures/events/287337924/
Join me on October 29th in Clay Gully at Myakka State Park for this precursor to our two day backpacking trip in Early November. You’ll learn the basics of backpacking from equipment to sleeping tips and everything between. This class is appropriate for both adults and teenagers. This class and the upcoming backpacking trip are independent events and you can do one or both. Keep an eye out for the trip to be announced. There will be a limit of 8 attendees on that trip. There is no fee for this class and you don’t have to bring anything but your curiosity and a bottle of water. https://www.meetup.com/rh-photo-adventures/events/287121915/
Since I’m getting this out to you a little late this month, our first Saturday photo walk has come and gone. My friends Joni and Annmarie were kind enough to lead that hike for me as I was stuck in Ohio with Covid. We have our regular third Sunday hike coming up:
September 18th 9:00am – Guided Hike at Bird Rookery Swamp in Naples
October 1st 9:00am – First Saturday Photo Walk at Myakka State Park in Sarasota
Premium hikes will start back up October – March, dates and locations to be announced. These paid hikes help me to be able to continue offering the free hikes and your support is greatly appreciated! The cost is only $10 per participant. If there are any locations you’ve been hoping to see featured, feel free to reach out and I’ll see what I can do!
See you on the trails!
Ah, summertime in Florida. It’s funny because I accidentally typed “simmertime” and realized that’s not really all that far off. We are all simmering here. It’s hot! As promised, hikes have continued and you all have not disappointed with your dedication to showing up, despite the heat! We’ve been hiking just about every week at Myakka State Park and will continue to do so, once I get back from my big trip.
What big trip, you ask? The Appalachian Trail! I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. I’ll be hiking a little over 140 miles this time around. I’ll be sure to update the blog with some photos once I return. The big goal is to section hike the entire trail, all 2,190 miles of it! It might take me a few years, but I’ll get it done. 🙂 Unfortunately, since I’ll be gone the entire month of August, there will be no guided hikes with RH Photo Adventures until September.
(I’m posting this newsletter a bit early because somehow I managed to forget July altogether and you were newsletterless. My apologies! Since I’ll be leaving soon, I wanted to get this out to you before then.)
Thanks to amazing friends, I have the first tiny section of the Appalachian Trail done. This was just enough to get a little taste of the trail, an appetizer, an aperitif, a tidbit.
There are so many YouTubers and Instagram personalities out there that romanticize backpacking and long distance hiking. I’m here to tell you, sometimes it’s ugly, mean, and downright painful. It is not all beautiful mountains and sunshiny wildflowers. I’m from Florida. You know what we don’t have here? Hills. Our highest “mountain” stands at 345 feet on Britton Hill. Three hundred and forty-five. That’s barely an ant hill. I did some hiking in the Colorado Rockies. Those are mountains. What I experienced in Georgia was mild compared to the 14,000 feet of elevation out west, but it was still pretty brutal for this flat lander.
The weather is getting hot. If you live here, you’re quite well aware of that fact. I recently wrote a blog post on the fun things we Floridians have to deal with as summer draws near. You can read all about that here: https://rhphotoadventures.com/2022/05/05/summertime-florida-hiking/.
Guided Hikes and Photo Walks
As the weather starts to heat up, I considered canceling all of my hikes until November, but then I decided I would miss you guys too much and I just can’t do that! So I will continue offering three hikes per month. Two of these are free, and one is paid. If more than twenty people sign up for one of the free hikes, I’ll offer two at the same location. And if more than ten sign up for a premium hike, I’ll offer two of those as well.
Our Premium Guided Hike for May is at Myakka River State Park. I like to prepare my hikers with a visual of what they might see on our hikes by pre-hiking our route within a week of the planned hike. This gives me an opportunity to see what’s blooming and to learn about anything I might not be aware of so I have more interesting information to share. Here’s a gallery of what I saw on my pre-hike this month.
It always amazes me how many different flowers are blooming each time I visit a familiar, local to me place like the Babcock Webb Wildlife Management Area. Here’s a sampling of what I saw today in just a small area of the park.
It’s getting hot out there. Hiking in Florida in the summertime can be a dangerous idea if you’re not prepared. There are so many elements that seem as though they’re out to get you. It’s alligator mating season from April through June. Lovebugs abound in April and October, though they’re just annoying and not dangerous. Yellow flies start becoming super annoying around the middle of May, and their bites hurt! Mosquitos are quite wide awake now and they’ll want to have a snack on your blood when you hike in shady, damp areas. Okay, actually they’ll want to snack on you no matter where you hike in summer in Florida. Noseeums swarm and attack with their teeny tiny blood sucking mouths in any area close to the shore, particularly at dawn and dusk. We have mad thunderstorms just about every afternoon. We have truly earned the title of Lightning Capital of the World. All of that, and I haven’t even mentioned the risk of sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
April showers are bringing the May flowers for sure. You may have noticed the coreopsis blooms beginning across the state. These flowers bloom in great abundance in pine flat woods, but they can be found just about anywhere. Florida has twelve native species of coreopsis, and they are all Florida’s state wildflower. Myakka state park has huge blooms of coreopsis in late spring every year. Be sure to go check them out. If you’re lucky, you’ll see deer traipsing through the wildflowers.