I am honored to announce that the above photo of the Green Lynx Spider, was selected as the overall winner in the 2012 Winter 2012 Florida State Forest Photo Contest. This photo was taken while hiking a part of the National Scenic Florida Trail in the Withlacoochee State Forest - Citrus tract. It was early October, the peak of Wildflower season here in Florida. I was hiking a 13 mile loop in the Sandhills of the Withlacoochee State Forest enjoying the lush wildflowers that sprout abundantly in this predominantly arid habitat after a hot rainy summer. A swallowtail butterfly caught my eye and led me off the trail looking for a photo opportunity. After stopping I noticed this colorful spider sitting quietly on a wild buckwheat bloom. He was quite cooperative as he sat motionless letting me shoot several photos until I was satisfied.
Other honors also include the above photo, Navigating the Shoals, took Top Honors in the Recreation category in the Spring Florida State Forest photo contest. My friends Jeanene and Deborah and I were camping up near Madison Blue Springs State Park enjoying a girls adventure weekend this past September. We had a commemorative paddle from Blue Spring to Suwannee River State Park. The water level was around 42 feet causing many minor rapids to appear on the rivers surface. Each rapid was easily navigable for even the most inexperienced paddlers. However, this last shoal approximately 3 miles from the end of our journey, was large enough to create havoc for any paddlers on the river that day. Unfortunately, our wonderful fall paddle down the beautifully scenic Withlacoochee River north through Twin Rivers State Forest, ended in a Deliverance-type fashion as my friend Deborah did not successfully make it through the rapids. After sticking in her kayak on a shoal, she climbed out of her watercraft and twisted her ankle breaking it at the fibula and tibia. The rest of the day was spent with rescue efforts with Fire department volunteers in a rural area and hospital visits. Jeanene and I returned to camp after 2:00 AM exhausted and in disbelief. It was quite a weekend to remember. The challenges brought out both the best and worst of us as we pulled together to get through this crisis. It is nice to have this photo selected as a Winner to cast a more positive note on a vacation that went sour.