Florida Day Four: Everglades National Park: Back On The Old Ingraham Highway After The Rains, Almost

Florida Day Four: Everglades National Park: Back On The Old Ingraham Highway After The Rains, Almost

Florida Day 4 Everades Royal Palm Old Ingraham afternoon (7 of 50)
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The rains  finally ended on Saturday afternoon during my stay in Florida City, almost.  I was  here on my visit to the Everglades and I decided to drive back out to the Royal Palm Visitor Center and hike on the nearby Old Ingraham Highway again. I hiked here earlier in the day as noted in my previous blog. There were still storm clouds in the sky when I arrived at the trail near the Royal Palm Visitor Center  around 4 p.m. The forecast still called for a chance of a thunderstorm.

I started my hike on the  trail, and although the sun broke through the clouds I was still  keeping an eye on them.

The sun warmed it up and it was hot so I didn’t expect to see a lot of wildlife or bird activity until it cooled off later in the afternoon. I did see this little blue heron  in the marsh.

It quickly flew off when I approached  and continued wading and searching for food at a safer distance from me.

I walked along the marsh which  was created during the remedial construction last year. It was nice to see the native pickerelweed and

arrowhead flowers returning to the waters of the newly created marshes. 

I also saw some white peacock butterflies,

and dozens of Halloween pennant dragonflies along the trail.

I was only out about a quarter mile when  I stopped in my tracks when I saw this  huge alligator stretched out on the side of the trail.

I was debating whether it would be safe to try and walk past the sleeping alligator. However I didn’t have to decide.

A vehicle with a couple of birders drove out on the trail (you can drive out for a mile until it it is gated) and scared the alligator into the murky waters.

However my walk on the trail ended for another reason. The storm clouds darkened and threatened rain. I walked back to my vehicle  just as a quick shower began. I took shelter in my vehicle. It didn’t last long,  but their were still dark clouds in the sky.   I decided  to stay close to my vehicle and I walked out to the trail to  the nearby Hidden Lake.

Hidden Lake is a 3 acre freshwater lake which I understand is great for bass fishing. However many sings along the lake warn of consuming to many of the fish because of  heavy metal poisoning. Sad.

The trail was a bit muddy from the recent rains, but it is a nice walk through a very different Florida Everglades habitat. It is part of the Royal palm hardwood hammock.

Here I found  my first ripe cocoplums on my many visits to Florida. These native shrubs grow on all of the trails I hike. I often see the flowers and small fruits. I know they are edible but have never found ripe ones, until this hike. I am sorry for this poor photo of ones covered in spider webs. It was the only one I took and didn’t realize it until I edited the photo. However, there were many  nice ripe ones,

And I tried them.  They were tasty. They were  somewhat dry, like teaberries we have back home in Pennsylvania, but with a unique flavor.   I liked them and look forward to eating more on my hikes in Florida. 

I also find and eat many edible  species of  wild mushrooms back home. I found these nearby   and had no clue what species they were, and I wasn’t going to taste them. They did look pretty. 

I also saw a lot of dragonflies near the lake , but they weren’t the Halloween pennant dragonflies that were everywhere along the old Ingraham Highway Trail.   Here the Needham’s skimmer were the most common , I saw dozens of them,

and I also saw a  few eastern pondhawk dragonflies,  common in my home state of Pennsylvania.

I also saw this critter a Florida liguus tree snail, it is a beautiful snail that was once sought after  for jewelry and is now endangered  because of loss of habitat and  are protected.

I walked to the environmental  center and campsite. Access is closed to the public so I  walked back to the Ingraham Highway Trail.

There were still some storm clouds in the skies but I decided to hike out on the trail anyway.

I hiked out a mile to a closed access  gate.  I  continued my hike. past the gate.  I was disappointed I wasn’t seeing more birds or wildlife.

After the gate the trail continues  open again  and continues through a marsh with cypress trees.

I love these trees  especially with their young green needle like leaves. I usually see them in the Winter when they are leafless.

In the cypress forest I finally saw some birds this wood stork,

and many boat tailed grackles and

 red winged blackbirds along the trail.

They skies began to clear  and the sun shine returned.  It was beautiful hiking in this vast wilderness alone.  I wish  I could have hiked until sunset, However, I had hiked over two miles, and it I had hike earlier  three earlier in the day, and I was hungry, so I decided to head back.

On the way back I saw a few more critters,  including a native fritillary butterfly,

and an invasive brown anole lizard.

I also saw this white eyed vireo  in a tree near the gate, they are very common in the Everglades,

and this American crow nearby on ground.

The storm clouds were gone  now replaced by fair weather cumulus clouds. It was a beautiful walk back to my vehicle.  I wish I could have walked until sunset. I thought of returning after getting something to eat, and watch the sunset,  in about an hour, it was now 6 :30  as I was finishing my hike. I also knew the moon was almost full and the trail would be a perfect place to watch a moonrise.

I saw too more birds wading in the marsh  as I ended my hike. a little blue heron and

this glossy ibis a first time sighting for me.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on  my hike. Florida  Day Four. Everglades Old Ingraham Highway birds March 23  2024.

I finished my hike and drove back to Florida City where I stopped for dinner at my favorite restaurant, The Farmers Market and again had my favorite meal the fried catfish, fried cabbage and mashed potatoes,

but this time starting with a house garden salad,

and with key lime pie for dessert. It was another great meal. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from  my hike. Florida Day  Four. Everglades Old Ingraham Highway  March 23  2024.

After eating  returned to my hotel,  and after editing photos and working on my blog I retired early. I was tired but looking forward to exploring some more of the Everglades in the morning before heading down to Key  Largo.

“There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth, remote, never wholly known. Nothing anywhere else is like them; their vast glittering openness, wider than the enormous visible round of the horizon, the racing free saltness and sweetness of their massive winds, under the dazzling blue heights of space. They are unique also in the simplicity, the diversity, the related harmony of the forms of life they enclose. The miracle of the light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and of water, shining and slow-moving below, the grass and water that is the meaning and the central fact of the Everglades of Florida. It is a river of grass.”    Marjory Stoneman Douglas, The Everglades: River of Grass, 1947

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