Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Walk in the Park (part of my world)

View from a bridge
On a small wooden bridge in the heart of the forest, I stopped and listened to the sounds around me. The rat-tat-tatting of a woodpecker, the calls of a common crow, the drone of wind in upper branches of the trees and an occasional crack of a branch, all contribute to a feeling of awe. A feeling reinforced by the lushness of the greens and browns that surround me. I am in the Congaree National Park, near Columbia, South Carolina.

On Saturday, October 10, I went for a walk (actually, it felt like a hike) sponsored by the Asheville Amblers Walking Club through the only National Park in South Carolina. It was a case of everything coming together. I had been walking for exercise since we moved from Maryland, but wasn't doing it on a regular basis. On July 3, I decided I would walk every day for 100 days. As it turned out, the one-hundredth day was the day for the big walk/hike. The week before I had watched the Ken Burns National Parks documentary on PBS and I had just started reading a biography of John Muir and here I was.

Early that morning I drove down to the park and found the check-in table. Club members explained to me what Volkswalking was all about and how I could get credit for my walks and receive pins and certificates and meet cool folks. I stowed my paperwork in the car and stepped out in to the woods for an 11-kilometer adventure.

Congaree National Park is a floodplain forest made up of many varieties of trees and other plant life. The predominant tree is the bald cypress and there are some of record sizes. My path took me first along an elevated boardwalk that runs for a little over a mile through a swampy environment. At the end of the boardwalk, the trail runs through thick forest and crosses, via wooden bridges, Cedar Creek that winds through the park. After about five miles of walking and taking many photographs, I arrived at another section of the boardwalk and found my way back to the starting point. I was hot and tired, but I had experienced and seen many new and wonderful things.

Making this post a part of "That's My World", a meme where people blog about places that are part of their world. Thursday, October 15, 2009. Congaree National Park is now part of my world.

Part of the 2.4 mile boardwalk loop

The base of a cypress tree is very wide, which helps the tree's root system support itself in the wet soil in which it grows. Around a cypress tree you will also notice brown stump-like points or "knees" sticking out of the ground. The knees are part of the tree's root system, but the exact function of the knees is not known.

A cypress tree's base can be as much as 8 - 10 feet around.

Many huge trees were felled by Hurricane Hugo back in 1989.

Several times each year Cedar Creek and the adjacent Congaree and Wateree Rivers periodically sweep through the Park’s floodplain help develop the unique environment.

The trail passes through a wide variety of landscape.

See more of my photographs on Flickr.

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