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Ascent of Ocala National Forest High Point on 2015-06-27

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, June 27, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Ocala National Forest High Point
    Location:USA-Florida
    Elevation:192 ft / 58 m

Ascent Trip Report

OK finally nailed this sucker after two failed attempts. The first time I researched and found the wrong highpoint although that was a nice hike; the second time, last year, I failed cuz like a dummy I set out for it on the first day of dog hunting season and the clay roads were packed with dogs, hunters, and orange vests (which I did not have) so this time I planned it in summer when it is hot, miserable, and no hunters!

I planned this for days. Keeping in my philosophy opposing any trip that is drive up highpointing, I developed a long circuitous hike maximizing my time in the national forest and looking for as much meandering terrain possible to get some opportunity to work out the legs. That is always a challenge in FL. But, at this time of the year in that area, such an off-road hike means contending with wildlife, chiggers, ticks, spiders and potentially horrible bushwhacking. Thus, I selected the designated forest roads and ATV trails. I found that the main clay road 127th street was more fun to hike on the south side along the power easement where the soil was loose and sandy (much more difficult to hike in than the firm clay road) and the hillier rolling terrain than the graded road.

My route was thus:

Parked my SUV at the corner of 127th clay road and forest road NFR 67 at around elevation 160 on the hill west of BM 183. I then hiked west all the way down to BM 89 at the intersection of 127th and NFR 65. This became my "trailhead" now I was ready to start my hike at elevation 89. Tracks of deer, turkey, raccoon, bobcat, bear, and some that were cat but far too large to be bobcat (Florida Panther) were everywhere. I headed east back towards my parked car and began to soak in the 100% humidity. Normally, I am incapable of sweating much but within the first mile I was soaked and salty sweat was getting into my eyes and stinging me. I made a 90 degree turn at National Forest Road (NFR 67) and headed south. My plan was to visit the impressive karst feature called out on the USGS map as "Green's Waterhole"

The minute i crested the hill at elevation 167 I was swarmed by deer flies and horse flies. I mean I am used to shooing away a few deer flies and horse flies when hiking in summer woods in FL but this was ridiculous. Perhaps my bright red "don't shoot Mr. Hunter" shirt was acting like a come and bite me flag but I have never been swarmed like this before...EVER....At one point, I was smacking them dead on my pant legs with my maps so fast, they were dropping dead all over my boots. But as the fallen piled up more moved in to fill the vacuum. I would guess I had up to 30 or more at one time circling my legs looking for the bests stealthy dive bomb entrance which in this case was my neck and arms.

I was not about to abandon my third attempt to nail this national forest highpoint so I picked up the pace which eventually tends to drive them away and it did. Turning left and heading east at the large dirt track just south of Green's Hole I found the bifurcated trails shown on the aerial and stayed left and could see the woods suddenly drop down 50 feet in elevation. But a bushwhack in this mess would be horrible when fortunately I found a place where the road had graded a little drainage wash to the north and the rangers had placed a barricade and a sign asking hunters to stay out. I understood why as I followed the tiny path breaking spiders out of my way and hoping the chiggers would be minimal in this very narrow and tight drainage path.

Green's Hole is pretty interesting. It is a deep sinkhole and clearly the only place that holds water anywhere around in the area so the animal tracks to the bottom where everywhere. The entire bottom was tall grass enjoying the oasis of a high water table supply and it was completely matted down by a large herd of something ( I presume deer from the night before).......then back up the path and back to he ATV road and east till I intersected the clear trail north to complete my loop and end up back on 127th adjacent to the national forest highpoint.

Once back to 127th and opposite the highpoint good luck finding the best route. It is only 100 to 200 yards from the road but it is thick xeric scrub. Some of it sandpines and other places typical scrub oak forest with myrtle oak, Chapman's oak, rusty lyonia, and scub oak (Q. inopina). I tried many lines including one from a little opening with a sign no parking. Eventually I beat the ground sufficiently in an area the size of 2 football fields to claim the highpoint but it is thick and nasty. Fortunately, it was a short distance of bushwhack. I missed knocking all the spider webs away and had one land on my arm and bite me. Although he was entitled to protecting his home, I confess that in frustration I knocked him down after feeling the bite and summarily dismissed him from existence in frustration.

In all, I hiked 4 miles and in the humidity and 9,000 steps on my pedometer and found some vertical to play with as well along my hilly route.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:343 ft / 104 m
    Total Elevation Loss:240 ft / 72 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Grade/Class:1
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
88F but 100% humidity
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:283 ft / 86 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 103 ft / 31 m; Extra: 180 ft / 54m
    Loss on way in:180 ft / 54 m
    Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Route:127th; many ATV trails; and bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:intersection of NFR 65 and 127th  89 ft / 27 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:60 ft / 18 m
    Gain on way out:60 ft / 18 m
    Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km



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