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  1. #1
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    Default Ocala Nationala Forest and the Florida Trail

    I spent the last couple of days poking around the Ocala National Forest.

    I spent one night at Alexander Springs (after arriving right before dark) and hiked north, and later, a little south, on the Florida Scenic Trail. The area between roads closest to Alexander Springs is beautiful, and full of great camping sites. I'd have just gone one way if I'd had any shuttle alternatives.

    The only hikers I saw were an outdoor leadership training group from Princeton who chose to camp 50 yards from me. Grant it, they didn't know I was there until I walked over and said hello. (Why would anyone make camp before they'd scouted ahead a few hundred yards?) They probably wouldn't have seen my stealth camp anyhow!

    I saw tracks of deer and 'coons, and dung from several species, including the sub-human type who don't have sense enough to leave the trail and use a trowel!

    Word of warning, however... the ticks are prolific. I knew I was in trouble when pitching my tent, and pulled a few that were already climbing the screen. I was fortunate that I had my long undies appropriately tucked, so that I peeled most off of my clothing, and not my skin. After the first one on my neck, however, I itched the rest of the night, and broke out the headlamp a number of times so see if I could spot any reason for the skin crawling feelings!

    I regretted that my canine partner was on the end of the month cycle of Frontline, which never seems to last quite a month.

    I enjoyed the area, and will have to hike some more in the Ocala National Forsest, but with some horrific insect repellent around all my clothing, and some milder stuff on me. I've never seen so many ticks in my life!

    To the Princeton gang, hope you guys had a great hike!

  2. #2
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    im glad you posted some info on the FT around ocala..i hiked part of that same area last year and had the same problem with the tics. right now they are in the nymph stage which is very very tiny. you need to really examine yourself to find these little buggers. i plan on doing that same section rite after the daytona 500 but a little more extensive. i want to hike in from south of juniper and head north to buckman locke...at least thats the plan so far, its about 75 mi if im not mistaken...

  3. #3
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    Ticks are bad all over N FL this year. I thought some of these freezes would help. Apparently not.
    I'm not really a hiker, I just play one on White Blaze.

  4. #4
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    I think the weather in the upper 30's/low 40's just got them (ticks) wanting a hot meal!

  5. #5
    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    The good news is that there hasn't been a reported case of Lymes in FL (or at least that is what the doctor told in me 2000). Unfortunately, whatever tick bite me had SOMETHING, because even 8 years later when I have an allergic reaction that tick bite raises up and itches like mad. I still don't know what causes it, but my ears get stuffy, everything starts itching, and I get stomach cramps fierce. As soon as my ears get stuffy I now take some benadryl and it keeps it from happening. For some reason I got it a number of times on the AT in 2005, but very rarely at home... It's a strange one...


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  6. #6
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    I hike the Florida Trail a lot in the Green Swamp area and Avon Park. I haven't had any problems with ticks, just mosquitos. I've been hiking it for about a month and have yet to meet any thru-hikers on it. Mostly just dayhikers. I'm wondering if any thru-hikers ever come my way. The part I'm talking about is in the loop near Orlando (western). The Green Swamp area is in Polk County, Sumter County, and Pasco County. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like if there are any thru-hikers on the FT, they take the eastern route.
    shape without form, shade without colour, paralysed force, gesture without motion; -T.S. Eliot-

  7. #7
    Registered User Cannibal's Avatar
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    The only people I ever see in Ocala are the hunters. In about 10 or so hikes through Ocala only once have I run across another hiker. Ticks suck! Peremethrin is fantastic stuff to deal with the ticks. Apply to your clothing (NOT SKIN) and let dry. You can actually watch a tick crawl up your sock for a couple of inches before falling off and (I assume) dying. Treatments last about a month or so with washings. I love that stuff! You can order it online or I know Bass Pro Shops carry it in stock.
    Tomorrow might just be too late and today is just beginning.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Cannibal, I now have another excuse to visit Bass Pro again!

    If I'd realized the ticks were so bad, I'd have bought something ahead of time!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by nitewalker View Post
    ...i want to hike in from south of juniper and head north to buckman locke...at least thats the plan so far, its about 75 mi if im not mistaken...
    Right you are! Maps 19 and 20 from FTA total 73.2 miles from CR 42 (just south of Clearwater Lake) to Buckman Lock. That's the entire portion FT that lies within Ocala National Forest plus maybe some extra at the north (it's hard to tell which boundary lines are which).

    I'm planning on a March or April hike with 3 of my boys, ages 10, 14 and 15 for that section. I might have considered February but I want to avoid the rainbow people. They're having a gathering the weekend of Feb. 14, at the north end of Farles Prairie near forest road 599, which looks very close to the FT. Wait, isn't the 500 on Valentine's weekend?

    Mercy, I don't want to ruin your Bass Pro excuse, but my Walmart carries Repel Permanone, which is a permethrin spray. It's in the camping section with the other bug repellents.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannibal View Post
    The only people I ever see in Ocala are the hunters. In about 10 or so hikes through Ocala only once have I run across another hiker. Ticks suck! Peremethrin is fantastic stuff to deal with the ticks. Apply to your clothing (NOT SKIN) and let dry. You can actually watch a tick crawl up your sock for a couple of inches before falling off and (I assume) dying. Treatments last about a month or so with washings. I love that stuff! You can order it online or I know Bass Pro Shops carry it in stock.
    Also, take a few tips from the Army. Wear boots that you can tuck your pants into, jungle boots would be ideal. Wear a tee shirt and make certain it is tucked into your pants at all times. Wear a floppy hat like an army "boonie" hat. Treat the hat, pants, & outer shirt with permethrin (not the tee shirt). This will leave your neck as the only access point for ticks to get to your skin. Check your scalp for ticks a couple of times each day.

  11. #11
    Registered User Cannibal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by take-a-knee View Post
    Also, take a few tips from the Army. Wear boots that you can tuck your pants into, jungle boots would be ideal. Wear a tee shirt and make certain it is tucked into your pants at all times. Wear a floppy hat like an army "boonie" hat. Treat the hat, pants, & outer shirt with permethrin (not the tee shirt). This will leave your neck as the only access point for ticks to get to your skin. Check your scalp for ticks a couple of times each day.
    Pants! In Florida? Actually, very good advice when the ticks are bad. I'd also treat my tent (if I actually had one ) with the peremethrin to prevent them from ambushing you on the way in or out. I've been using this on my hammocks for a year with no negative results on the fabric and keeps the mosquitoes from biting my bum. If you can find it, the 'soaking' method is by far the easiest to get good coverage. If you've got any military pals, they can get it fairly easily.
    Tomorrow might just be too late and today is just beginning.

  12. #12
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    Default Ticks in Florida

    This thread piqued my interest in the potential for Florida Lyme disease and a quick internet search found:

    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in121

    So, there have been far more cases than I was aware of. But then I didn't think we had many at all. HHHmmmm......

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catnip View Post
    I might have considered February but I want to avoid the rainbow people. They're having a gathering the weekend of Feb. 14
    Just make sure you wear your $hi+ kickers.
    I'm not really a hiker, I just play one on White Blaze.

  14. #14
    Is it raining yet?
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    Post Ole Ben

    Ben's 100 works on ticks too....
    Be Prepared

  15. #15
    2005 Camino de santiago
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    Default Rainbow People?

    Quote Originally Posted by Catnip View Post

    I'm planning on a March or April hike with 3 of my boys, ages 10, 14 and 15 for that section. I might have considered February but I want to avoid the rainbow people. They're having a gathering the weekend of Feb. 14, at the north end of Farles Prairie near forest road 599, which looks very close to the FT. .
    Rainbow People?
    I probably will regret this question, but would you please elaborate?

  16. #16
    Registered User cowboy nichols's Avatar
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    I've been finding ticks everytime I go out on the trail here by my house ,I thought it was strange as all summer I never seen one but since it got cold They are prolific.I'm in Tallahassee area so it is colder up here than Ocala. 'll try the perethrin . aaaaathey seem to fall from above so I 'm wearing a hat too.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by highway View Post
    Rainbow People?
    I probably will regret this question, but would you please elaborate?
    I told my kids they're hippies who never grew up.

    Wikipedia has an article on rainbow gatherings:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_gathering

  18. #18
    been down that trail before Cowgirl's Avatar
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    I haven't had any run in's with ticks here in the Okeechobee area, but when I lived in the Ocala area I hiked the Gothe State Forest every day and found a few.

    btw....The Gothe was an awesome area to hike. I rarely ran into people and saw tons of wildlife. Turkey, hogs, deer mostly.

  19. #19
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    Default A Gathering of such

    Quote Originally Posted by Catnip View Post
    I told my kids they're hippies who never grew up.

    Wikipedia has an article on rainbow gatherings:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_gathering
    I guess about half way or so between Paisley's Clearwater Lake trailhead and Juniper Springs I do recall walking through a large area full of somewhat dilapidated trailers and some folks that appeared to be living there. Everybody seemed friendly enough but It was cold and I was moving fast and I was looking for the spring which was there. It was a pipe with an on/off valve coming, I suppose, directly out of the ground from the underground aquifer feeding all the 'springs': Juniper, Silver, Salt, Alexander, etc. The water was cold, crystal clear and delicious and I marveled at the idiot that had the nerve to put up a sign beside it proclaiming "filter or treat before using" or some such other nonsense.

  20. #20
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    Default Confessions about ticks

    Take a knee,

    I just retired from gov't service as well (oooyaa!)

    Since I've read your profile, I suppose I'll confess to you privately (and possibly 15,000 other wb folks!

    re: ticks in Ocala

    I was wearing long pants! It was in the 30's, and if you note, I'm from the Keys! (Yep, familiar with that school, too.) Thirty's for me meant smartwool under my long pants. Woolie shirt tucked. The first varmit I found on me was on my neck, after his long adventure exploring the inners of my clothing layers. (The first I saw was setting up my tent. That's me setting up the tent, not the tick.)

    Unfortunately, after I saw the first tick that I unceremoniously flicked into the stealth fire that I may or may not have had, depending on whether they were legal during that week (I forgot to check on my way in) I began to feel crawling things, perhaps invisible, perhaps imaginary, over all my body. As I lay still in the tent that night, feeling crawlies all over me, I told myself it was mind over matter, and only broke down once to unzip from my warm bag to examine a couple of places under my base layer, to make sure my headlamp was functional. (This also involved a short night recon to make sure that the woods were properly irrigated.) The goosebumps forming on my inner layer, er, no, that would be my outer layer (of skin) provided ample mountains of hiding places for microscopic or invisible crawlies, so I gave up, and went back into my bag.

    After daylight, and a hot morning drink, I searched for the ticks that were large enough to see, and found a couple snuggling in the warmth of the inside of my outer shirt.

    Upon return to my base camp, 400 miles away, I bathed my canine hiking companion in a good flea and tick shampoo, and decided if it was good for her, hey, what could it hurt, and headed for the shower. Scratch-ex dog shampoo really does make you quit itching! I examined my outer layer (skin) for awhile before I concluded that the few bumps that I was trying to dig the bugs out of were actually freckles. I guess its been a long time since I looked at myself that closely in a full length mirror.

    My vet recommended I NOT use Frontline on myself, so I'll use the spray the posters recommend. I suppose it is superfulous to post that I had deet spray with me, and of course, I never considered using, since I hate the stuff. I will be well sprayed in my next Florida hiking adventure, whether I like the sprays or not.

    Well, maybe not my next one, since tomorrow is just a day walk.

    Hope everyone sitting around reading posts are also getting to enjoy some good hikes!

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