Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Winter Storm Highlights on the Trail

It was three full days after the January snowstorm
before I visited the trail to check things out, so only
a little snow remained.  But there was plenty to see.

Welcome to the Sandhills Farm Life Nature Trail, newcomers
and old friends alike.

Enter the trail along the ball field fence.

Our iconic Old Man Poplar seems to be leaning more each year.

Exhibit 1: That sign was LEVEl when I attached it four years ago.

I had to tilt the camera to make it appear level now.

Not a good day to try to walk up this leaning trunk.  And I didn't!

You can measure the slippage by noting how the poplar had rubbed
away the bark of the tree it leans on.

No matter how strong the supporting tree is, gravity and the sheer
massiveness of Old Man Poplar are working against us.

The trails were fairly cleared of snow, but still pretty.

Jack, Will, and Tom, a popular "selfie" site.
Try it yourself and please share.

Moving on toward the stream.

What a nice surprise!  Some unknown benefactor has replaced
the old bridge, which I finally removed due to safety concerns.
I have a couple of suspects, but need to do some investigating.
I'd appreciate any leads.

Some small animals appreciate this convenient crossing, too.

Watch your step if you cross the stream, and be warned--
that's private property on the other side.  With adult supervision
and reasonable caution, you can explore "the FAR SIDE," where
I took classes for three decades.

On the "far side," the land rises gradually to a farmer's fields.
This is where the famed Graveyard of the Pines once stood.

Of the seven kinds of ferns found on our trail, Christmas fern
is the only one that thrives even in winter.

Still on the "far side," observe Horseshoe Bend.

In this shaded spot, ice floats on a still pool.

A view of the hardwood forest that stretches on and on.

A streamside view.

Now we're back on the "legal" side of the stream.

As we approach the teaching station/ rest area at Big Rock,
observe a new leaning icon.  This one may be less likely to fall,
because it is firmly wedged in the fork of a supporting tree.  If
it lives (and it should-- its roots are still in the ground), it may
remain like this for many years.  We'll see.

Teaching station and Big Rock.  It's always slippery, and even
more so now.

No icebergs, but I'm sure the water's plenty icy.

Dear old Big Rock may outlast everything else on the trail.

A snow-covered log near Big Rock.

One last look before the journey back.

Along the return loop, note "The Wishing Well."

I don't encourage you to toss coins in this wishing well, but
feel free to make a wish,  What harm can it do?  And everyone
knows our trail is full of magic.

On our return trip, the snow highlights the lower loop trail we
followed earlier.  You can't get lost on our user-friendly trail.

View of Jack, Will, and Tom and another rest/teaching area
from the upper loop trail.

Farewell till next time, Jack, Will, and Tom.

Some woodland animal enjoyed walking along this fallen tree
trunk.  Like any kid, they did it just "because it was there."

If you're a long-time observer of Old Man Poplar, I'm sure his
increased leaning is evident to you.  When will he finally fall?
No one knows, but if you visit and find him prostrate, please
let me know.  Like everything else on the trail, he'll get to
remain and "recycle" himself.  But I would remove enough of
his trunk to keep the trails from being totally blocked.

In this view you can see Old Man Poplar to the left and snow-
covered fields far beyond the trail.  In between, in our little
"hidden valley," lies a world of adventure and eye treasure.

As I drove away from the school, I pulled over on McCaskill Road
for one more photo, a blast from the past.  This is our old
Black Lagoon.  You're very fortunate if you got to visit it as a
student.  The last students or adults that visited it with me were
at my retirement party, almost nine years ago.  I don't take classes
on that private property now, but it's still easily visible and
connected to the past, present, and future of our nature trail.

I often remind folks that winter is a great time to 
enjoy our trail.  It may seem bare, but that's an
opportunity to see the topography without less
undergrowth.  With the nice weather of the current
forecast, why not take a stroll yourself?  Then come
back in the spring. And summer. And fall.

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