I spent the entire week eagerly anticipating a return to the forest. By 0730 Saturday, I was on the trails, and didn’t return to my car until nearly 2:00 pm. Crawling up and down some pretty steep trails was exhilarating, but I was pretty sore this morning, even with as much as I hike. I tend to forget I’m not a teenager any more.
I have seen Trace Fork pretty high before, and even a creek as small as it usually is carries a lot of debris at flood stage. A few weeks ago, I found a large, freshly cut log lying in the middle of the stream bed. The log was about 6’ long and about 18” in diameter. There were no cut trees around, and no sign it could have been rolled from higher up the canyon walls. I concluded it must have been carried from farther upstream during recent high waters. I found the log again this week – at least 1/2 mile farther downstream. This time, it had been deposited up on the creek bank:
What is even more chilling to me are the signs I found a few hundred yards farther downstream (away from the viewer in the pictures above). Based on matted, mud-covered vegetation and debris deposited along the trail, Trace Fork would have been at least 6’ deep – in a place where you can usually cross the creek without getting wet above your ankles! I don’t know about you, but I find that frightening. Trace Fork joins Davis Creek, and there were some neighborhoods along Davis Creek that were flooded last week.
A taxonomic update:
In a different blog entry, I identified this tree as Cucumbertree, then came back and said it wasn’t. Well, I was wrong when I said I was wrong!! The tree is indeed Cucumbertree. I went back and found that same tree this weekend, and took my 20x pocket magnifier. I studied the end buds and the bundle scars, I sliced open a twig and studied the pith, and the conclusion was…don’t jump to conclusions! This is twice now I’ve followed the clues to identify a species, then changed my mind due to variations, only to later find out my original identification was correct. Again, I am humbled by the vast complexity of nature.