Forest Bathing in CREW’s Bird Rookery Swamp

Forest bathing is widely practiced for health reasons. The concept is simple:  to surround yourself in nature for the purpose of absorbing the healing properties of the forest. Adherents claim that it can lower blood pressure, slow the heart rate and reduce the levels of harmful hormones such as cortisol. Overall it has a calming effect.

But does it really work or is it the product of someone’s imagination? Research shows that the effects of forest bathing are real and demonstrable. A Russian scientist began to study forest bathing in the 1920’s, working on the theory that the “aromas of the forest” strengthen our immune systems. Subsequent study has shown that trees emit an organic, antimicrobial volatile compound that our bodies absorb and which reduces inflammation and helps us fight off germs.

So how to practice forest bathing? First, find a peaceful wooded area where you can linger for 20 minutes daily. When you enter that quiet forest, walk slowly and stop often, listening and observing. This is not a time for your daily jog – vigorous exercise defeats the purpose. Instead immerse your senses in the sights and sounds of nature while you’re absorbing that healthy aroma of the forest. The nearby presence of water enhances the effect.

Of interest to those of us who live in southwest Florida, modern research has determined that the trees which give us the greatest benefits in forest bathing are all varieties of cypress trees. CREW’s Bird Rookery Swamp Trail is an ideal place to practice forest bathing. Surrounded by cypress trees and plenty of water, you leave feeling refreshed.     

By a CREW Trust Volunteer

It’s time to recharge

— by Anne Reed 

 

Today we went for a walk.

We weren’t leading a program, or assisting on a field trip. We weren’t removing invasive plants or trimming back brush around trail signs.

We were scouting the Marsh trails, trying to devise a different way to mark them other than names on signs. We scheduled ourselves to be out of the office for the morning on and headed out and just walked.

But by the end, though, it was more than a walk.

I’m not sure if you experience this but for me, getting out on the trails leaves me feeling rooted. Grounded.

Walking with someone and sharing that experience, the feeling of just being that you get when you get outside, it fosters conversations. And if you are alone, it makes for great conversation inside your head.

So what was unique today?

As we rounded the bend on the Pine Flatwoods trail, we saw mud.

MUD. GLORIOUS MUD.

Why did that mud make us so excited, so giddy?

Because that means our water is coming back. That means that water is flowing south and if we are seeing it at the Marsh trails, it will slowly make its way through the Corkscrew Marsh and on down to Bird Rookery Swamp. Rainy season is whispering its arrival, teasing us with a few showers here and there as the humidity creeps up.

We’re ready to recharge.

We read and say, all the time, that we need water to recharge our aquifer.

Being out there, though, and really seeing it – that’s something completely different. As we walked and we had actual stretches of water to walk around, there was this feeling of anticipation. Not just within myself, but all around. As if everything, from the sawgrass to the trees to the wildflowers, was holding its breath, ready and waiting for those beautiful afternoon thunderstorms to sweep through and bring growth, renewal.

In a way, May is not just a recharging time for the lands within the CREW Project, but a way for us to recharge as well. Our busy season is over, traffic is lighter and as the temperatures creep up, everyone slows down.

Today was just one of those rare days when sunshine, good company, a nice breeze and little bit of mud were the the prefect combination to leave us feeling grounded, rooted and a bit recharged.

Want to see this what we saw today? At the Marsh Trails, take the Pine Flatwoods trail to the Alternative Marsh Loop, to the Observation Tower, then out to the Popash Slough.

We do need a lot more rain, but it does feel nice to see the water slowly making its return.

 

Current Trail Conditions

updated 10/24/22

CREW Bird Rookery Swamp:

Trails are inundated with water.

The entire 12-mile trail is clearly marked with letters to help you gauge your distances. The Purple trail connects CREW Bird Rookery Swamp trail to the CREW Flint Pen Strand trails. The Purple trail distance is 3.1 miles to the main parking lot at CREW Flint Pen Strand starting from the intersection above point E. The Purple trail is currently dry.

Be aware that alligators will warm themselves on the trail. Please do not attempt to force them to move when you pass.

CREW Marsh Trails:

Trails are inundated with water.

CREW Cypress Dome Trails:

Trails are inundated with water.

Check HUNT DATES. Trails are open to everyone during hunting season, however, if you prefer a trail without hunting, try the CREW Marsh Trails around the corner on Corkscrew Rd.

Low sections of trails are beginning to fill with water.

CREW Flint Pen Strand Trails:

Trails are inundated with water.

The Red, Yellow, Blue and Orange Trails experienced wildfire (3/26/22) and the SFWMD are in the process of repairing the firebreaks.

Check HUNT DATES. Hunting takes place north of CREW Flint Pen Strand trail systems. Please stay on the designated trails. The trails are narrow and winding with some sand and roots/rocks.

Trail distances are calculated from the Main parking lot. The Purple trail hike is 3.1 miles to CREW Bird Rookery Swamp and 3.1 miles back. If you choose to hike the “loop” of CREW Bird Rookery Swamp trail, you will add 7.5 miles to your distance.

CREW 10K Adventure Trail Run Was “A Blast!”

Runners at the starting line (photo by Linda Jacobson)

On Saturday, November 3, 2012, fifty-nine committed runners and walkers showed up at the crack of dawn, braving the cool morning temperatures to participate in CREW’s inaugural no-frills 10K Adventure Trail Run and 1-Mile Fun Run at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails. Phil Nissen, a regular CREW trail runner and director of the 10K Trail Run, showed runners the map of the course, explained how the course was marked and then sent them on their way.

Runner splashes through the water at the CREW 10K Adventure Run (photo by Jenny Williamson)

They ran, walked, splashed through water and mud, saw cows and hogs at Caracara Prairie Preserve, and came across the finish line with mud in their shoes and smiles on their faces. Post run conversation was punctuated by laughter as participants told stories of their own personal adventures out on the trail. Gina Fidler said, “I haven’t had that much fun doing a race in a long time!”.

There were no bibs, no timing tags, no places or prizes – just great trails, lots of nature to appreciate, fresh air, and an enthusiastic crowd willing to have some fun. That said, we did have folks record their times for the 10K just for fun, and here is the list. If your time is missing and you have it, send it to us so we can update the list. Thanks all!

Andrews Lisa ?
Ayer Tammy 1:15:12
Bazinet Nicole 1:15:02
Bocharova Nika 1:15:10
Branstetter Cassie 1:08:22
Brooks Brenda 1:15:07
Browne David 0:48:16 (Second)
Callen Sara 1:31:00
Calvert Daniel 0:54:53
Catron Susan ?
Collins Geiger Sissy 1:02:18
Cominski Michael 0:54:16
Crosse Amy 1:09:30
Davis James 1:01:57
davis jason 1:07:52
DeLisi Daniel 0:59:21
Fidler Fran 1:01:45
Fidler Gina 1:14:12
Frantz Jeremy 1:25:07
Frantz Ali 1:25:16
Gaffney Erin ?
Gallagher Adria 0:54:18
Gallagher Brad 0:54:38
Geiger Keith 0:51:38
Gommermann Luke 0:54:00
Gray Paul 1:04:18
Hanson Keith 1:17:50
Harden Neil 0:54:08
Harvey Klaus 1:13:58
Higgins Rick 1:24:18
Jones Braidy 1:17:56
Kinsella Amy 1:08:22
Layman Laura 1:15:00
Martin James 1:24:26
May Christy 1:18:01
McKnight Jordan 0:46:54 (First)
Morford Beth 1:19:00
Ogle Stephanie 0:55:26
Payne Mary ?
Pfeiffer Nicole 1:02:18
Polgar Marisa 1:12:17
Shamus Chantil 1:14:41
Shelton Gretchen ?
Simard Susie 1:14:55
Smith Kathleen Smith 1:19:00
Solveson Rick 1:15:08
Sowder Amy 1:15:11
Spackman Matt 1:06:00
Stein Sally 1:12:17
Styra Bjoern 0:58:00
Waller Lee 1:24:00
Washuta Amy 0:55:16
Williams Sasha 1:29:10

Many of the runners had never been to or heard of CREW before, so this was a great introduction to the magic that is CREW. Naples Outfitters  and Run Florida on McGregor co-sponsored the trail run with the CREW Trust, helping us purchase water and food and providing 25 T-shirts that were given away in a drawing.

Thanks to everyone who participated, to our sponsors, and to our exceptional volunteers who helped prepare the course and keep everyone on track and safe on run day. Let’s do it again!

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