Florida Day Five: Farewell To The Everglades. A Final Hike On The Old Ingraham Highway Trail
It was my last day in Florida City, and the Everglades.. I decided to hike The Old Ingraham Highway Trail in the Everglades National Park again. It was my first hike on my trip to Florida this year and it was the hike on which I encountered the most wildlife. I hoped it would be again. As usual I left early, before sunrise and saw the newly waning gibbous moon setting over a bean field in the western sky on my 15 minute drive to the trail.
This time I parked about a mile from the entrance gate to the Old Ingraham Highway Trail a short distance off the road to the Royal Palm Visitor Center . It was partly cloudy and a mild 70 degrees when I arrived. The sun rose shortly after I set out on my hike.
I decided to walk to the entrance gate since there are large areas of wetlands along the trail and I have seen many wading birds in these wetlands. However, I didn’t see a one on this hike.
The only birds on this first part of the trail were the noisy catbirds. They were everywhere.
I walked along the first mile of the trail in the early morning light,
and came across some of the wildflowers I saw on my previous hike on Saturday. There where the delicate Rose of Plymouth flowers,
the bristling bull thistle, this one with an insect who may have spent the night,
and this one I didn’t see before a Peruvian primrose.
I walked to gate at the entrance to the Old Ingraham Highway Trail.
Here I found some black vultures hanging around. I think they wait for cars to park. For some reason they are attracted to the dark rubber tires and plastics on a car and attack it with there sharp beaks.
I continued on my quite and peaceful hike. The sounds of the birds echoed over the vast expanses of marshes and wetlands on both sides of the trail. Like my last hike I was the only human out here.
I saw some wading birds here, including a lot of great egrets flying over the marshes.
There are a lot of cypress trees on the first part of the trail.
And many of the wading birds like the great egrets and
wood storks, like to perch in their branches.
These birds perched in the cypress trees make great photo opportunities, especially on overcast days.
The remains of the Old Ingraham Highway are visible on many parts of the trail,
however in others, like where it crosses the hammock where I saw the beautiful red-shouldered hawk on my previous hike, it is overgrown with vegetation.
The usual wildflower were seen here on the hammock, the pretty blue dawn flower,
many more bull thistles, these being visited by some green fly like insects,
and this beggarticks being visited by a butterfly.
It was a warm morning and saw a few dragonflies darting along the trail, some landing and allowing me to capture an image.
I love seeing and photographing this delicate insects and the intricate details of there wings,
After crossing over the hammock, the remains of the old highway could be seen again.
I hoped to see some of the coots, herons or alligators in the the old canal along the highway but there were none on this hike. The only birds I saw were the common northern cardinals,
turkey vultures that flew overhead and,
this elusive white-eyed vireo. It took a while just to capture this image.
I hiked out to the flooded area in low spot on the trail. I had not been able to get beyond this point on my hikes last year and my previous hike on Saturday because of the flooding. This time it was! It was still wet and muddy but I managed to get through without getting eaten by an alligator.
I was now free to hike the remaining 6 1/2 miles of the Old Ingraham Highway trail. But, unfortunately, I was leaving and had to check out of my hotel by noon. So I had to begin my 3 1/2 mile hike back.
It was an uneventful walk back. There wasn’t much wildlife activity. At first the skies cleared as I walked through the vast wetlands of the Everglades.
Then, as I approached my vehicle, clouds moved in.
I saw one last bird, an anhinga drying it’s wings in the reeds.
It saw me and quickly flew off. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs of some of the birds I saw on my hike. Florida Day Five Everglades morning hike birds. February 16 2022.
I ended my 7 mile hike, my last in the Everglades this year, and looked forward to returning and exploring more of the trails here next year. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my hike on the Old Ingraham Highway Trail. Florida Day Five Everglades morning hike February 16 2022.
I drove back to my hotel, checked out, and took a leisurely 30 minute drive to Key Largo where I would stay the next three days. Of course, the first thing I did was have lunch. If you follow my blog you know I like to eat. I stopped at a local favorite, Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, and had a bowl of conch chowder and
a grilled yellow fin tuna salad for lunch. It was delicious.
After lunch I checked into the beautiful Bar Harbor and Coconut Bay Resort.
This is my third stay at this resort and I love it. I spent the rest of the afternoon roaming the beautiful gardens and relaxing by the bay.
I was hoping to watch another spectacular Florida sunset but the sun didn’t cooperate. It was cloudy.
So, of course, I went to eat again. My old favorite restaurant across from the resort was closed so, after a few unsuccessful attempts to find a place without a long line I ate at the Italian Food Company and had another delicious meal, minestrone soup and,
pasta with pesto sauce. I was full. I worked on my photos and blog and retired early, looking forward to explore a new trail in this beautiful sub-tropical paradise.
Florida is a golden word…The very name Florida carried the message of warmth and ease and comfort. It was irresistible. John Steinbeck