Sulphur Spring - My First Off-road Spring
fbrogers — Sun, 07/12/2009 - 02:28
Today was the second day I was supposed to set out for Rock Springs/Kelly Park - my roommate was gone this weekend so I invited a friend (let's call him Sly) along. Once we woke up at 10:30 and called Kelly Park to hear that they were approaching 90% capacity, we had to alter our plans a bit. I pulled out the ol' Google Maps and found the closest spring to Rock - Sulphur Spring.
Main problem here? Sulphur Spring is not accessible by public roads. It's less than 5 miles from the entrance to Kelly Park, but I know I've tried to find it before, but I only ran into the normal "Private Property - No Trespassing" signs. Whether they're posted for intimidation or for a good reason, it's scary nonetheless.
We set out at about noon, no swimming trunks to be found. We stopped over on Aloma near Oviedo for some Sonic (yummy chicken-strip sandwiches) and headed around the 417 Toll Road to the north side of the Rock Springs Run State Reserve. A few more twists and turns got us to the entrance of Kelly Park, which we zipped right past in search of this mysterious spring.
Our search ended abruptly in the yard of a nice man; the dead-end was but 500feet from the spring head, but we were kindly told that we'd have to access it from another direction. Waving, we headed out to try another angle.
We had the coordinates for the spring, so we drove back to the main highway to find other smaller roads that could possibly lead to the spring. Eventually (by some luck) we found a gated entrance to the service roads. Parking the Jeep, we quickly hopped the gate and strode off in the general direction of the spring. Keep in mind we were without bug spray, in shorts (flip-flops in Sly's case), with no water and Sonic in our bellies.
Looking up the trail to the spring.
A view of Sly's Jeep outside the gate/fence.
The grass was extraordinarily tall along the well-eroded fire trail, making me worry about ticks. As I high-stepped my way down the trail, Sly tried to get in contact with the ranger station for possible driving access to the spring (or simple permission to be back in the woods in the first place). He called Wekiwa, Rock Springs Run, Kelly Park, all telling us to call one of the others. Eventually we arrived at the spring.
The depression past the overgrowth is the spring.
A view of the spring from on foot.
I was pretty excited, I must admit. Wow, a wild spring! We found it! Time for some awesome shots! Unfortunately, nature had a way of reminding me just how wild the spring was. Approximately 30 seconds from that shot I noticed a smaller-sized alligator surface in the spring. Backing away, I realized that if it were younger, we could be near a nest, and we quickly decided to get out of there. Try as I might, I couldn't get the stupid/broken 18-55mm lens to focus on the gator in the shadows. If you look close enough you can make out the shape under the water with its wake creating bubbles.
On the way back, I picked a deer tick off my leg. More on that later. We hopped the fence, hot and sweating profusely. Once inside the Jeep with the air blasting away, we drove back to the main road.
I thought that perhaps the Fire Station would have access to the spring or could help us out, but no luck. We'd just about given up home when he suggested we try Mt. Plymouth road; try to find some kind of western entrance to the area. Off we went. I charted some possible routes with the iPhone on Satellite view, and neither of the first two areas panned out. The third however... well, we found that someone had done some of the work for us.
And we were off! After some basic trekking and excitement over our find, we made our way back to the area we'd covered on foot and slowly drove back to the spring, this time with a little extra protection.
Not much of a different view, but safer.
I'm not really pleased with the pictures, but I couldn't argue much. I was having a blast trekking in the Jeep; the pictures and video were just small bonuses to that. We took off shortly and drove back to the gate, taking a consolation shot of the Jeep inside the gate.
Take that gate.
Our only remaining obstacle was getting out of the area, preferably without having to backtrack. I'm sure the police weren't waiting for us, but it'd be nice to make a clean getaway ;)
The area behind the fence was so scenic. It was cloudy off and on, with a few summer showers cropping up every so often, but it was incredibly... well, cool. The adventurous side of me was loving every minute we spent in the woods. After all, we'd walked to a spring inaccessible by roads, found a way to drive to it, and we were motoring off into the woods, finding what we may (but hopefully a way out).
Sly stopped in the middle of this small cactus field to snap a shot of his Jeep in, literally, the middle of nowhere.
Middle of nowhere indeed.
The closer we traveled to the "official" boundaries of the Rock Springs Run State Reserve, the smoother and more-comfortable the ride became. It was a great time to relax, enjoy chatting away, and plan our escape.
There was the occasional fun to be had on the trail back to the road...
Eventually, we connected up with a side road that thankfully was not inside the State Reserve area. Sly pulled over to check his Jeep over and I snapped a closing shot. Hopefully there will be many more of these adventures to report :)
To many more.