Hawthorne Trail

A nice cool, clear morning provided a refreshing start and the ride was smooth and conversations engaging. Suddenly, we were forced to stop. Our local climate crisis of extended drought took its toll recently as apparently wind caused an otherwise healthy tree to literally bisect the Hawthorne Trail about a hundred feet from the environmentally friendly toilet facility at the 7.5 mile point. A word rarely used on our rail trail excursions came into play as we literally had to portage around the root ball of the new fallen divisor.

Finding the tree down made us notice more the incidence of smaller debris that must have been blown into place by the same weather. Still, with that single exception, the trail was completely navigable and experiencing moderate use. Armadillo, snakes, deer, rabbits, birds and prickly pear blossoms were among those sighted, as well as other recumbents, even another trike. The return trip from Hawthorne was much snappier as we were ushered along with a nice tailwind. All in all, another perfect day on the trail.
Photos are posted in the gallery.

Trail Condition: Freshly littered, but navigable
Facilities: Sufficient
O\vo~

Avenue of Abandon

The group may be Feet First, but our official bylaws, that are buried in a mayonnaise jar somewhere in Bruce’s back pasture, clearly state that “head-first riders are always welcome.” And today, Bruce, Feet First’s Grand Poobah* and Web Wizard himself, arrived with a surprise, a nifty new head-first Dahon folding bike. Like magic he had it set up and ready to ride in about 30 seconds and no bike mechanic was required. And he and his new seven-speed had no trouble climbing the small hills or keeping up with the pace, although today we may have been passed by gopher turtles.

We were in our back yard, with Bruce, Deanne, Sandra and I starting in Fort White, riding the trail that Bruce has dubbed the "Avenue of Abandon", formerly known as the O'Leno to Ichetucknee Trail. It lived up to its nickname. We did see some evidence of mowing, but that was about the only sign of maintenance since the fall. Portions are overgrown and long sections, especially on the portion of the trail leading to O’Leno State Park, were so covered in leaf litter and grass clippings that nearly half of pavement was buried.

And for those interested in playing tire puncture roulette, the trail continues to be used for beer bottle target practice, and there are apparently some expert marksmen in Southern Columbia County. We rolled the miles, cleared off a minimum of 10 exploded bottles and removed one downed tree from the trail. We had a good relaxed time, left the trail much better than we found it, and felt our work entitled us to the right to complain.

And Bruce gave his new toy high marks, but noted some padded bike shorts and a bit of suspension would have made for a more comfortable ride. Years of feet-first riding has left him with a spoiled behind. Photos are in the gallery.

Total miles 16

Trail condition: Sad and nearly abandoned, but improved by the time we finished.

*FYI: If you wish to spell check Grand Poobah, with the assistance of Google, you’ll find Grand Poobah is also, “a family owned company based in Centennial, Colorado since 2003” that provides “animal waste removal services for dog owners” and has the Web address www.poopguy.com.
- Gary Kirkland