June Weekend
Short Story

Its June, three months since our last trip to camp. Time to check on Six Pack and get that fire break mowed. Its the first weekend of closure for ORV's. I'm sure someone is thinking they are missing something, by not being allowed out in the Big Cypress Swamp. What they are missing is rain, heat, humidity, deep water and ravenous mosquitoes. The mosquitoes are as bad as I have ever seen them. You can not be out in the open, without at least 40 or 50 of those little rascals trying to get the first sip of blood, in their life out of you. We must have thrown away 5 or 6 empty cans of insect spray, by the end of the weekend.


 It looks like they are done building Camp Calusa. The kitchen/dinning hall, shed and Sleeping Cabin are all finished. The shutters are down and ghetto doors are all in place and locked up tight. The only thing left to do is police up the construction debris and get a lawn mower to work on that tall grass. Here are a few more pictures: 1 2 3 4
Of course you know, we had to hike to get these pictures. ORV recreational riding is not allowed during the closed season.

  Water is Deep, Deep, Deep
Water is over the Tires!
NPS done for the Season
Camp Calusa
New Cabin and Kitchen/Dinning Hall Finished

Road before one Season of use
Upper End of Hardened Trail - New


Upper End after one Wet Season
Upper End of Hardened Trail - After One Season

For those of you that don't know. The NPS had to apply to the Corps of Army Engineers for a permit to Construct the hardened trails. (No they didn't buy that repairing existing trails story, Donahue was telling). There was a thirty day comment period and they got lots of comments. I think its safe to say, there will be no hardened trail construction this year.
Its interesting that the Bio-Diversity Group and the Sierra Club are opposing the construction and made lots of comments. After all, it was their law suit that caused the NPS to start constructing the hardened trails. Of course, they don't want to co-exist with ORVs and Sportsmen, they want them out of the swamp. So it should be no surprise they commented on the hardened trail construction and are against it.
The three pictures are taken from the same spot. The above picture is brand new hardened trail. The second picture to its right, is a dry season picture after the first wet season. You can see the geotek material starting to show. The picture to the right shows the geotek material starting to float free. Two other things to notice in this picture. The milky water from the lime rock is coming out and spreading, now that it is wet, (where are those silt fences?). Also the muhly grass is coming back and flourishing, just like it does every year after ORV use. Its never going to come back where they put that lime rock. Here is a picture from the other direction.
  The grass off of Trail is Recovering Nicely
Upper End of Hardened Trail -
Beginning of Second Wet Season

Blind Curves are Dangerous
Hardened Trail - Blind Curve to the Right


There is a second issue of safety that has been brought up on the hardened road construction. In several places along Buckskin Trail, there are blind curves. That is, the woods are so thick that you can not see around the corner. Since the trail is narrow and not enough room for ORV's to pass, the potential for a head on collision exists. Worst then that, the NPS web site is encouraging bicyclists to use the ORV trails also. What an ORV will do to a bicycle rider in a head on collision, will not be very good. I certainly would not like to live with the thought that I ran over someone with my ORV. For this reason, I go very slowly around these blind curves. I also blow my horn, (which most ORVs don't have), as a warning I'm there. I don't know that a ATV rider, on a noisy ATV, would hear my horn, so the risk still exists for a head on. This is not a problem when it is wet like now, but when the road is dry, it is easy to go the legal 15 mph speed limit. The NPS needs to re-do these blind curves before someone gets hurt. The following are movies of the blind curves, (They take a while to download and you need Quicktime to view them). Movie 1  Movie 2

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Story by Steve - June, 2003