In the previous nature trail blog, I focused
on the school children's experience. Here,
I'd like to share a few closeups of highlights
of our fall walk.
Here are the star-shaped leaves of the sweetgum.
It is often known by the seed-bearing "stickerballs."
The next two shots show the array of
colors of the abundant red maples.
This shot highlights the bumpy texture of
Old Man Poplar's trunk. How much longer
can it stand?
We also have sugar maples on the trail.
I love this vibrant gold.
The single green leaves among the dried
brown leaves are Cranefly Orchid, one of
the most unusual plants on the trail. The
underside of the leaves is purple. These
plants emerge in the fall and die down in
the spring, just the opposite of most plants.
In the previous blog, I showed students
viewing this moss-covered trunk which
spans the creek banks. Here's a better
view. I wouldn't walk on it; it's been
decaying here for two decades. On the
other hand, I don't know how long it
could remain. But please don't test it!
Here are the dying fronds (leaves) of the
Royal Fern, one of our less common species.
Even though there was a pool of water at
Big Rock and some other spots, there was
no water under the bridge.
There were still many samples of heart-
shaped wild ginger once we crossed the
bridge (leading off of school property).
Each student received a tiny piece of the
aromatic leaves to carry along.
The still-green fronds of the Christmas
fern demonstrate the diversity of the
fern family. Old fronds will die down,
but many will remain green all winter long.
Sunlight filters through these magnolia
leaves. This is another sort of evergreen.
We noted this tree had been struck by
lightning at some point in its life. There
are many examples of natural damage
throughout the woods.
These cinnamon ferns lend their colors
to the changing landscape.
Strong winds and shallow roots are a
combination that occasionally result in
uprooted trees. Its fun to see the changes
on the trail from one visit to the next.
Here's a closeup of the spiny vines of
Smilax (scientific name), also known as
cat-brier and wait-a-minute vine. It can
deliver painful scratches.
This picture was taken from atop Big
Rock, looking down into the stream bed.
Don't you wish you could walk this
trail today? Why don't you?
As I drove away from school that day
I stopped on McCaskill Road and took
this panoramic shot of the nature trail's
canopy. I can't wait for my next visit.
If you're on Facebook, I invite you to
visit the Friends of the Sandhills Farm
Life Nature Trail page. All my nature
trail photos from over the years are
posted in albums there.