Friday, December 24, 2021

12/24 Hiking in Myakka State Park, FL

Over our Christmas break, Nina and I visited my parents down in Florida. As we enjoyed the warmer weather, we wanted to get some fresh air and explore the local area so we decided to spend the day at nearby Myakka State Park! This park is known for their wildlife including water birds and alligators. I don't care much for water birds but I'm all for seeing some alligators! 

As soon as we entered the park, there was a bridge covering the first bend in the river. It didn't take long for us to spot a bunch of large alligators. It's tough to judge the size of these beasts especially in the water but my dad educated the group that the number of inches between the nostrils and eyes is the total length of the gator in feet. We judged some of these gators were 8-9 feet long and probably weighed hundreds of pounds. Needless to say, we didn't jump in for a swim.

After we stopped for lunch at their cafĂ©, we pushed on to see what else the park had to offer. They had a nice, secluded hiking trail that offered us the typical Florida wetland scenery. Very different from what Nina and I are used to in the desert! Partially down the trail, we came across two towers with a suspension bridge across the middle. The taller of the two towers was 74 feet high and the bridge was 85 feet long. The height of this tower put us above the tree line giving us a great view of the total area. This helped us realize how truly secluded we were. I'd hate to get lost here! 

After our hike, we got back in the car to head out. We stopped at the river again to see how our gators were doing. A few of them were swimming around but a majority were on the shore sunning. We kept our distance and headed out! Definitely a memorable experience. 

Saturday, December 4, 2021

12/4 Hiking Mary Jane Falls at Mount Charleston, NV

After spending quite a bit of time indoors, Nina, Winston and I decided it was time to get out to stretch our legs! As we continued working towards hiking all the trails up on Mount Charleston, we picked Mary Jane Falls as our next adventure. We packed up and off we went. 

I've done Mary Jane Falls before but that was at the height of Covid when it was crazy crowded and now mid-winter, it was not nearly as crowded. There are two parking lots: one just off the road and one a little further up; you can park in either but one is definitely closer than the other. The first bit of the trail has a moderate up hill and very wide giving you a chance to warm up as you slowly begin the ascent. We took a few minutes to practice Winston's off leash recall. He was a good boy as always but we had our leash ready if other hikers came by. 

About half way through the trail, it starts a switchback up to the actual falls. This portion is more strenuous but very easy to follow. As we climbed, we started to climb out of the valley offering us some nice views of the Mount Charleston area!
At the top, there is a nice landing creating a perfect spot for lunch. The waterfalls had very little water flow but it was December so that was expected. The previous time I came up here was February and the waterfall was much stronger. 

As we started down, we quickly realized we were running out of time. Despite it only being 1:30PM, the sun set behind the mountains a little after 2PM causing the temperature to drop quickly. This is something we had not considered as sunset in the area was around 4:30PM. Lesson learned for next time. Overall, we made it back to the parking lot just fine and had a great time! 

Total distance was around 4 miles, climbing 1,624 feet and taking us 2 hours and 44 minutes including stops. The KML track was inaccurate due to mountain interference so I won't post it here but there are plenty online that are more accurate.