Come one come all to a weekend 15 mile hike-and-hang on the Richloam South leg of the FT and Blue Blaze trail in the Withalacoochee Forest, near Webster, Florida, March 11-13, 2011.
So, here is what we have. Richloam South Trail--a combination of Orange Blazed FT and Blue Blazed connectors. This a car door to car door trip--a full circle of about 15 miles all told. The terrain is flat, but varied in foliage. Some open areas and lots of gardens, hammocks, pine stands, and edges of ponds. The most southern area can be swampy in rains. Rarely used sand roads crisscross throughout. Sometimes there are off roaders on them, but no gatherings scheduled for that weekend. There is a small spur off to the Withalacoochee River that I suspect we will want to take to see the river and refill our bottles. Water is in the from of a pump at the parking lot (bring a filter, but I will have mine), the Withalacoochee itself, and a small clear creek that I think is called the Devil's Creek (inauspicious name, true). Most of these are first day water sources. Second day's hike is dryer so stock up when we can.
We will be heading at least 7 miles to the Sat night hang which is nice stand of “Tree Strap Killer” pines. The next day has a similar distance finishing the circle back to the cars.
The party will convene at 10am on Sat March 12 at the Richloam Fire Tower. An advance party will be encamped a mile or so north on the Blue Blaze trail. Feel free to come join us or make your own way.
The trail head parking lot is the Richloam Fire Tower. This is on the right (south/west side) of Richloam Clay Sink Road. Take I-75 to Route 50 Cortez Blvd. Head east (left if heading south on I-75, right if heading north on I-75) and on past Rt 301. Soon you will be in the Wilderness Management Area, and you will know it. Look for the poorly marked Richloam Clay Sink Road, heading south on the right. Take this to the trail head at the Richloam Fire Tower on Richloam Clay Sink Road. The Fire Tower area has a mowed grass parking, a sign-in booth and info board, and filterable water via a water pump.
The trail head is a Blue Blaze that takes you southward to the Orange Blaze Florida Trail. That Blue Blaze/FT trail head is on the Richloam Clay Skink Rd about .2 miles back on the road you will have just driven down to get to the Fire Tower parking area.
I have posted the best map I can find of the trail It is hand drawn and black and white, but it you look at it closely, all you need to know is there. Note though, that road names vary unpredictably. Note also that there are a few more small tracks in the woods than this map shows. This map just shows the main ones and the names match for those match well. Our trip will be counter clockwise, beginning at the Fire Tower, heading north west to the Blue Blaze/FT trail head, from there to the FT trail head (at the T), and then heading south on the FT towards what the map calls Goat Road. From there we just finish the circle we began.
Some people will convene on Friday with a plan to head northward on the Blue Blaze trail and spend the night somewhere on that trail. Then, we will head back to the main parking area, reload on water, and set off having joined with the Sat morning arrivals. The trails are clear and we will be encamped both nights along that trail. If anyone misses the 10am meet up, no worries--follow the map, and you will find the main party along the way. Sunday means finishing the circle and arriving back at the cars. There a few ways back in varying distance if people want a shorter way.
As always, everyone should feel free to move at their own pace as they see fit. Richloam is a "Ridicule Free Zone" on issues of hiking speed. Take your time and smell the palmettos (just be sure no one pee'd on them recently though). If you feel confident with your map skills, bolt off as you wish. I will make sure that I am keeping a doable pace so that anyone less map savvy will have a "native" (Brooklyn-born) trail guide. I may want to do a bit of trail maintenance along the way--there were a few turns that needed work when I was last there. One in particular just at the southern intersection of the FT was a real bother (the blazed tree was burned and palmettos blocked the path. Maybe Islander will whip out that RAT of his and show us what bush whacking looks like!)
One more time, this is a hike and not a car camp. We will be in the bush, so pack and carry accordingly. Bring your fave trail meals and be ready to share. I have new Excalibur dehydrator--yay--so I am dreaming up odd things to dry out! Suggestions? We will use a local fire pit near our camp and have a flame to sit by. Pretty sure if Zuki comes along we can just sit back and watch his fire management skills! I am hoping to have a new chopper by then to play with. Other things to note: Bear bags? Yes! Extra water? yes, bring it! Kids? You bet! If they are good for the miles, this is a nice place for kids. Cellphone? Coverage is not bad--we might even be able to use them to stay in touch on the go if needed (I am an earbud hiker anyway). Hiking Poles? Recommended. The ground is rooty in places and I love to knock down Banana Spider webs with my Leki “Spider Busters.”
Let me know your interest so I can keep the lost growing. There is no cost or preregistration associated with this event. But I will accept all donations to my More Gear For Me fund. See you soon!
Links to Maps: