After four months of resting a bone spur in my left heel, the condition had finally improved enough to resume some much needed hiking. To those of you who enjoy the sport, being without it is like trying to quit smoking! This Sunday past, I returned to a local trail at Fort Parker State Park that is one of my favorites, the Baines Creek Trail. A short 2.5 mile one way, to make a 5 mile hike, up a limestone outcrop ridge from the lake level, with some bridges and fairly steep climbs, well ok, maybe just moderate climbs. White tail deer and wild pigs are a common sight and last year I spotted a Mountain Lion sitting on his haunches in the middle of the trail. This during the terrible drought of `11 when I suspected it was seeking water from the lake. Of course, I`ve never forgotten the sight or my FEAR and I never hike the trail without constantly checking behind me. There is lot of great flora , also, and I usually have my camera in hand when I hike the trail. I had not seen it since late spring and I was curious to see what the summer rains had wrought along the trail as far as native plants. I immediately began to see large stands of Inland Sea Oats and some other shady bunch grasses that I have, as yet, not identified, but that I did gather a lot seed from.
Along a steep water course that culminates in a 30 foot seasonal water fall, a colony of Palmetto grows. They are the only examples I have ever see in the wild in either Freestone or Limestone counties.
Here are a few scenes from along the trail, which is lined with some of the only remaining Burr Oaks I know of in the area, Yaupon, Live Oak, Cedar(many dead after the drought), Post Oak, Elm, and many othet species common to the savannah and blackland, which lies only a mile or two northwwest of the park. The trail is truly in a transition zone between the two eco regions.
The hike was also a seed gathering opp and a surprising chcnce to see an unfamiliar wildflower, even at this late date. Lance Leaf Gaillardia. A flower that usually tops out in spring, which I had to identify after I got home. Fortunately, there were some dried seed heads to gather for the prairie patches.
Blackeyed Susan seed heads
As I was nearing the parking area on the return trip, I noticed the rosettes of Bluebonnet poking up. The promise of next spring and here`s hoping we get some rain before then !