Most everyone loves waterfalls. In Florida, they are rare. We have seen 3 of the natural ones so far. As with any waterfall, recent rainfall or lack there of, greatly changes the appearance of them. We was pretty excited this past winter to go hike a short 3 mile trail through floodplain forest, cypress swamps, xeric hammocks, and pine plantations. This same trail also takes you by the focal point, Steinhatchee Falls.
Anytime we get to escape into the woods and chill for awhile is special to us. We enjoy seeing nature’s special gifts that await us. We enjoy seeing wildlife, we stop to ogle plants, question what type of tree one is and just enjoy the journey. Destination hikes like this one though are extra exciting to us. Knowing that we are going to see a waterfall had us stoked up for this hike, even on this drab, gray, winter day.
Unfortunately, we both got sucker punched in our guts!
Have you experienced that gut feeling, some call it their sixth sense? You can’t enjoy the trail or nature’s offerings because something just isn’t right. You are on high alert. Your senses are telling you…wait for it…you will hear it, see it, smell it…something, something just isn’t right here. That intuition that tells you to trust what you are feeling, it is based on some past experience or something learned and buried deep inside of you. It is that intuition that makes you ready-on-go for fight or flight. You try to logically process it. Process what is around you that is causing this. Sometimes you never get an answer.
No matter how much we tried to calm ourselves and reassure each other, it just didn’t work. We eventually started seeing the signs. Signs that told us what our gut was telling us did exist. Everyone occasionally comes across a wrapper or can thrown down by some unappreciative hiker that has not learned the value in leaving things better than they found it. We experienced that on this trail, but when you start seeing odd trail trash, like a cereal box and a butter dish under a tree, you know better.
Your gut slaps you in the face and screams, “Now do you believe me!”
We hiked faster. We was already half way to the waterfall. Turning around on a mostly linear trail would have been just as silly as continuing. That is what our minds told us. So we carried on and kept our senses about ourselves while trying to enjoy it still. We tried to laugh at ourselves, but we knew our gut was right. We didn’t need anymore signs. When we made it to the waterfall, it was finally relaxing. The sound of the water washed away all that tenseness. The picnic tables at the tiny parking area gave us time to snack and let our now pleasant surroundings soak into us.
We both agreed, we was not going back via the trail. We looked at the map and walked along the dirt county roads to get back to our vehicle. We can’t stand hiking dirt roads. On this day though, we did it without complaining because we knew what the alternative was. Our post to our Facebook friends…the trail was creepy but the falls were cool, drive to them.
Now, we don’t like talking negative about any public lands. There is a lot of hard work and management decisions that go into them to allow access to the public, while also protecting the resources for future generations. Our advice to others is not meant to be negative about this trail, but it is meant to caution others and to reassure you that your gut knows when something just isn’t right.
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT!
Don’t be afraid to tell others that something just didn’t feel right. You don’t always have words for it. You don’t have to see the obvious that reassures your mind of what your gut is telling you. Just trust your gut. Have you had these sensations, intuitions, sixth senses or just plain gut wrenching feelings before? Share them!