February 24, 2017 (by Angela)
Jim, Chewie, and I have been learning about and enjoying Florida’s State Parks system during our short sojourn in the Sunshine State. This past Sunday, Jim said, “Let’s find a place and go for a walk.” Some new friends we’ve met in the campground had the night before shared with us some places they had visited and enjoyed, so we chose Wes Skiles Peacock Springs Park from the list and headed out.
Arriving at the entrance to the park, we paid our $4 fee at the honor-system station and proceeded to drive slowly through the park. Jim noticed something through the woods, so we pulled aside and got out to hike the short distance to what we now know is Olsen Sink. While there, some other hikers joined us, and it became apparent that we were in the midst of a longer trail. Hopping back into the car, we continued until we located the parking area for both the trail head and for those choosing to scuba dive in the nearby Peacock Springs I.
While visiting this state park, we learned about the Floridan Aquifer, the underground water system flowing through a cave system that was below our feet. The aquifer has multiple openings through which those who desire and are trained to do so may scuba dive even though inland. In Wes Skiles Peacock Springs SP, there are three springs from this water system that flow out of the ground. In addition to the spring openings, there are other “windows,” known as karsts (sink holes), that also allow access to this aquifer system. Olsen Sink is one of these “window karsts” to the Floridan Aquifer.
We met a diver who happily told us more about the park and what they (he had two buddies) do while diving in the park. Chewie really wanted to join him and his friends in the water, but that was not allowed. Instead, we hiked the trail loop that starts and ends at the spring where the divers were beginning their exploration of the water-filled, underground caverns.
The hike was very enjoyable, but Chewie continued to remind us that he was the leader of our pack. As the three of us made our way along the twisting trail through the woods, Jim and I had to watch not to trip over a root above ground, a rock, or a downed limb. Chewie’s challenge was to sniff and pee on everything possible while not allowing either of us to take the lead, at least not for more than a few seconds. It actually became a game of sorts to see if Jim or I could lead without Chewie rushing past us to re-assert himself as pack leader. He always regained his leadership position.
Along the trail were signs identifying local trees and other flora native to the area. Additionally, there were signs posted throughout the trail that explained further about the aquifer and its caverns located below our feet. The information on these signs were very informative and interesting.
Below are some of our photos. Click on, or hover your cursor over, each picture to see the caption.
This proved to be a lovely couple of hours spent outdoors in one park of what seems to be a quite large and diverse Florida State Park system.