It's sort of a confession to admit that not every adventure can be a full-blown weekend getaway replete with amazing food or nights spent under the stars. At times it can be an accomplishment just to be able to sneak away for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon and get some dirt under the tires. When a new friend reached out to join us on an upcoming adventure, we decided to make an afternoon run up to what ended up being an off-road paradise of sorts—Citrus WMA, in the hills just north of Brooksville, Florida. For only being a couple hours drive, it felt like we were in another state. Just the kind of backyard expedition we needed.
Citrus WMA is one of Florida's many Wildlife Management areas—an area managed for hunting and conservation. You may remember our dual sport trip through another one of Florida's WMA's, Green Swamp. We're fortunate to have these dedicated lands at our disposal, otherwise we may find the urban sprawl of Florida taking over most, if not all, of our public land.
So we headed north on a cloudy Saturday, meeting up with our friend and his Defender 110 at around two o'clock at one of the campgrounds in the area. We immediately set off to explore the woods, with no map, no plan, no thought other than to just drive around. One of the best ways to spend an afternoon. We drove through soft sand, standing water, some mud, and red clay—the clay being a nice change from the white dirt roads we find close to home. The elevation of the area also helped make us feel farther away than normal—Florida is usually so insanely flat, any change in elevation is welcomed.
For a good while we didn't come across one other vehicle or person. After setting down a certain trail with a good swath of mud, we met up with some Colombians in a couple FJ80s, an FJ Cruiser, and a converted Chevy Tahoe. These guys were well equipped and having a great time in the mud, apparently trying to get stuck or come as close as possible. They were excited to see the Defender 110, and all posed with it for a couple pictures.
They followed us through the trails until we reached a fork in the road. Straight ahead was about 30 or 40 yards of standing water, at least a couple feet deep. To the left was a nice clay incline and no water. We decided to go left with the Land Rovers—neither one of us wanted to get flooded with water—but we knew the other guys would go through the water, so we decided to park and stick around for the show. The lesser built of the FJ80s attempted the water crossing first, getting about two-thirds of the way through before getting stuck. So the built FJ80 backed in and pulled him out. Three times. After the last time the stuck truck opened his doors to allow an inch or two of water to find their escape. Exactly why we didn't want to go through.
We continued through the trails, taking turns at the wheel and behind the lens. There's nothing like sharing moments like these with friends—being with guys (or girls) that enjoy the simple joys of being outdoors. Summer in Florida is so hot that these overland expeditions are a perfect way for us to get outside, have adventures, but not have to deal with the miserable heat or unbearable mosquitos. So we drive, and we enjoy every minute.
Before long we come upon a fun little area with some climbs that will challenge our driving. The Defender goes first, climbing a tight incline with not much of a problem.
Next we take the Discovery up the same incline, and it takes it with ease. We take turns driving, and we have a great time. We almost get the Disco stuck going up one of the climbs, but after a little advice and thinking, we bounce right through it. These Land Rovers are incredibly capable machines.
After some fun in that area we keep driving. There are caves somewhere around here, and we'd like to find a couple. So we drive and search, and never find any. That's ok, it gives us an excuse to come back. As if we needed one. We'll be back for sure. This place will be perfect for a night or two of camping, some amazing food and drink, and plenty of time to explore the trails. An Overland Empire adventure if there ever was one.
So as we look forward to bigger adventures—multiple days and nights, food and friends, and epic stories—we remember how important it is to get out for any adventure we can, even if it's a long afternoon not too far from home.