~ Congaree National Park ~
Part Two

Continuing the walk of the Boardwalk Trail. I did see several birds, including one hawk, during my three hour walk, but they were too fast for my camera. The trees are so dense that photography of any wildlife was very difficult. Also, the Park Ranger told me that the area where visitors can go without a back country pass is largely avoided by wildlife.

Source: Park Ranger and website

Life after death



Even after their deaths, trees are filled with life. They become an "open house" for termites, beetles, bats and many small mammals, amphibians and reptiles.




More guts and sloughs


A Former Champion



This Loblolly pine is a former state champion. Recently one larger than this, a new national champion, was found on a gut that crosses the Weston Lake Loop Trail. Still it is some tree!


Weston Lake



Weston Lake is an oxbow lake. It was once a bend in the Congaree River and when the river changed course to the south thousands of years ago, oxbow lakes were left behind. These lakes, like Weston, are slowly filling up with clay and humus.


The small trees above and below are Paw Paw trees. The fruit of the Paw Paw was treasured by Native Americans and early settlers as a tasty treat when ripe.


Lightning



Lightning is a powerful force in nature and has left its mark on the above tree. Though dead, the tree provides a living place for insects and animals.




The trees pictured above average over 130 feet in height. In summer the tops of the trees come together to form a forest canopy. The forest canopy of Congaree has been said to be taller than any other deciduous forest on earth. Even taller than the hardwood forests of Japan, the Himalayas, southern South America and Europe.




These palmettos are closely related to the Cabbage Palm, but will grow no larger. These are dwarf palmettos.


Bootleggers found a unique way of making a living. Stills were built in remote areas to discourage "revenuers" from locating them. This iron box is a part of the legacy they left behind.




On September 21, 1989, Hurricane Hugo left its mark on the Congaree. Small tornados tore through the forest opening swaths in the canopy. The forest is renewing itself with the small trees in these photos, while fallen giants lie in the mud.




This low-growing evergreen is called Dog hobble. It got its name from the dogs of bear hunters. While the bears ran through the green maze easily, dogs were hobbled by its dense growth.



The bluff above the flood plain

Looking down from the bluff


The low wet areas in these photos are called seepages. Water seeps from the base of the low bluffs through layers of peat. Peat is the result of the ongoing collection of decaying plants and animals.

When I completed my walk along the trail, I had decided to revisit Conargee during the summer, when the trees are fully dressed. On my way to the parking lot, I saw the above meter and maybe that's not such a great idea. But I will go back.


Music is "Theme from Forest Gump"

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