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Shaun, Debbi Jackson

Adventures big and small, we love exploring our Big Blue Marble.

We hiked this loop clockwise in July. This trail has so much to offer, many lakes, ponds and rivers. Also many Mosquitoes so come prepared. The views are constantly changing. There is a good shelf with many possible camp sites just below tree line. Many beautiful small streams running below snow fields. Once on the high tundra the flat top area is so vast. From here you you will have views into so many different valleys as you travel towards the causeway. Standing before the crux of the causeway is overwhelming, but with some 8 miles behind you there is only one way home, you must cross. Even after the high of the crossing there was still more adventure ahead.

This is one of my favorite hikes. Easy to access and not very crowded, a gentle climb through willow and alpine tundra. Vistas that change as you curve and climb up the valley. Many options for scrambling from the area around Independence Lake.

Amy nailed it! There are so many ups and downs, and with each one a new view and perspective. The last saddle before climbing Grizzly seemed steeper and deeper than the others. I was lucky enough to have perfectly clear weather for the day, but I could see the danger of being on an exposed ridge for so long. Some fun scrambling over the rock pile. I was spent when it was over but I was sorry it was over.

This was our first trip using Outbound as a guide. It was late Oct. We used our paddleboards for the trip which can be a little different than kayaks or canoes as we have fins under our boards that can get snagged on submerged deadfall and the sandy bottom. The Rock Spring Run flows at a nice pace and is shallow in most places but not so shallow that we ever had to portage. The first third of the trip is rather shady, and the bottom dark so is a little difficult to see the logs and branches just below the surface. Polarized sunglasses helped a lot. Once the river opens up there is all kinds of aquatic plants, Lillypads, and grasses swaying in the current. Since the water is so clear you can see Large Mouth Bass and pan fish everywhere. We even passes over a 2 ft. Alligator as he lay on the bottom. The highlight of the trip was spotting 2 Black Bears in some trees along the bank. One resting on a breach, the other munching berries in the top of a cabbage palm. We finished the 8 miles in about 4 hrs. which included a couple of breaks and Bear watching. We did not get to paddle upstream to Emerald but will likely return to check it out as well. The Boys at Kings Landing shuttled us and our paddleboards back for $20 each, a very hardworking proffesional team. Though we didn't camp, there were 3 primitive camp sites on the river, you can book through Wekiva State Park. This was a great trip! Thanks Zachary Ganster for the tip.