We met Sherry and David earlier in the week, after months of reading each other’s blogs and finally finding ourselves in close enough proximity to connect. We first met at the Owl Taproom for happy hour in Apalachicola and had such a great time together that we met up again a couple of days later for a bike tour of the town. Knowing that we share a love of hiking, nature, birding, and photography, we invited them to join us on our wildflower expedition.
Our daylong journey began in Eastpoint, paralleled the Gulf on scenic Highway 98 for a few miles, and then with a sharp left turn, we cruised onto Highway 65, a gorgeous byway that winds through miles of untouched forest. This is a road I’ve traveled many times with my family, heading to Wright’s Lake for picnics, blueberry picking, fishing, and swimming. It’s been at least 30 years since my last visit, and I was delighted to discover that the lake is even more beautiful than I remembered.
We spent a fabulous day, first hiking the three-mile trail around the lake, discovering fuzzy leaved lady’s lupine, tiny woods violets, and Red-headed Woodpeckers. We were thrilled to find a few yellow trumpet pitcher plants, and hiked out into the savannah to get a better look. (All the time I was thinking, “Oh great—perfect recipe for ticks.” Just last week I woke in the middle of the night, scratching and thinking, “Hmm…I don’t remember that mole…” and on closer inspection, found a tiny embedded tick. Ugh.)
While enjoying our picnic lunch, some fellow hikers we met advised us to travel further up Highway 65 for more sightings of pitcher plants. And so we did. And it was incredible. Enormous stands of the dazzling yellow plants undulated across the savannah; at the same moment, Sherry and I both exclaimed, “It looks like a field of daffodils!” We scrambled out of the truck, picking our way carefully through mud, wiry grasses, and charcoaled stumps of slash pines to get closer to the pitchers. To our delight, we not only found hundreds of pitcher plants, but also the carnivorous tiny brilliant red sundew, exquisite fuchsia-colored wild orchids, and a large stand of the delicate Osceola’s plume. The recent prescribed burn evidently stimulated a fantastic growth of wildflowers.
It was a magical day, made all the better by sharing it with friends who were just as thrilled as we were by our discoveries.[portfolio_slideshow]