Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hike to Ft. Pickens - November 2007

On November 13, my husband and I hiked into Ft. Pickens. I meant to publish my photos before now, but with the Thanksgiving holiday, family visits, a trip to New Orleans, and the daunting task of sifting through over 200 photos which I took that day, suddenly I realized over three weeks have now passed!

We started out enthusiastically around 9:00 a.m. on the morning of our hike. I packed sandwiches, bottled water, band-aids, and my camera, of course. The day was slightly overcast and cool, a perfect day for a 15-mile hike.

A large tidal pool spreads beside us on the sound side beach. It looks like mirrored glass on a day like this with little wind to disturb its surface.

The road ends at this point. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the two large piles of asphalt in the distance, a landmark of sorts to which hikers refer.

I turned back for this shot as we left the road behind. A fellow hiker parked his bike, deciding to explore a bit or choosing not to push it through the long stretch of sand ahead of us.

Closer to the asphalt piles, the road completely disappears and we hike through sand. Only park rangers and workers proceed in vehicles here.

The landscape is beautiful and silent. I stop for a minute to wonder why someone has hiked across the top of the dunes.

We pass an asphalt boneyard, a stretch where the road has been completely destroyed. Small clumps of asphalt litter the beach like a surreal minimalist painting.

A welcome sight! This means progress somewhere in the park!

We passed the ranger's house and noted new AC units. The solar panels look like they have been replaced also. Surely someone is planning to utilize the house within the next few months.

A stretch of road close to the ranger's house looks like it is lined with snow drifts.

The country store is still boarded up. A front-loader in the parking lot stops briefly before bringing in another load of bricks.

The swampy area always makes me slightly uneasy. Childhood memories of "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh MY!" quickens my steps here. You can hear the skittering of wildlife if you tarry.
Canals intersect and run parallel to the road before you reach the fort entrance.

Fort Pickens! It still stands after nearly 175 years. Heaven and historians only know how many battles and hurricanes the site has weathered.

A cannon still stands atop one of the fortifications.

The building which housed the museum was moved off its foundation by the storm surge. It has been raised and placed on blocks.
The fishing pier looks in pretty good shape. Several fishermen are there that day.

A view of the sea wall which runs along the west side of the fort.

A fisherman spots mullet and casts his net.

The west end of Santa Rosa Island. It is a lovely view of Pensacola Pass. If you enlarge the photo you will see a small boat which has tied up to the shore and the Pensacola Lighthouse in the distance. There were a few boats there that day. Some people were picnicking, others were fishing.

The view past a chain link fence makes me wonder where Geronimo was housed during his stay at Ft. Pickens.

Yaupon, with its Christmas-red berries, was abundant in the park this fall and very colorful.

Thanks to my readers, I was able to identify this plant as wild fox grapes. There were areas of it along the stretch of road in front of the fort.

Sadly, recent occurrences of red tide led to large fish kills all along the Gulf Coast. In some areas where the island remains flattened, high winds and tides washed dead fish approximately 100 yards onto the road during the first part of November. This line of fish was the high-tide line.

As the road disappears into the eastern horizon, you can see white sanddust rising from Pensacola Beach--and home. My legs are beginning to tire.

This last part of the walk is always the hardest for me. Less than two miles from completing the hike, my tired legs rebel against a section of 'rolling-road'.
We finished the hike and arrived back at the parking lot at 4:00 p.m. -- a seven-hour, 15-mile long hike. An hour of that time was stopping to eat our sandwiches at the fishing pier and wandering around the interior loop of the fort.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The country store !! I bought a sticker there the summer of Ivan and it is still on my pop-up camper !!! wish i could take my beach bike down to ft. pickens !!

Seadog !!