Instead of watching the Gators play football, we decided to go on a First Day Hike through gator habitat. These January 1st hikes have become a tradition since our first in 2012. This year’s destination: LaChua Trail.
We knew that a portion of the trail was closed earlier due to high water levels but decided to give it a try. Within minutes of stepping on the boardwalk we saw two water moccasins and only a short distance down the trail saw the first gator. It seemed intent on ushering us down the path as it cruised along matching our pace.
Barricades blocked the trail less than a mile from the start and a large gator served as sentinel to ensure no one crossed the barrier.
After a lunch stop we continued our hike at Payne’s Prairie State Park following the Cone’s Dike Trail. We encountered no reptiles in this area, and the only wildlife seen were birds, mostly sandhill cranes, flying over the prairie. However there was plenty of evidence of horses, bison, hogs and even a large cat along the muddy path.
The final mileage of the two walks measured just under five miles, not bad for a first day hike. And of course our First Day Hike wouldn’t have been complete without a little rain. Fortunately this year it didn’t start raining until we approached the parking lot, and it helped that the temperature was in the 70s.
Can’t wait for more hikes in 2016.