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Hey y’all, a special Holly jolly greeting from North Florida!

The Daily Bucket is a place where we post and exchange our observations about the natural happenings we see. Birds, blooms, bugs and more - each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unwinding around us.
December 28, 2012

Here's a red and green American Holly with tinsel (a silvery Spanish Moss).
And welcome to Florida's 500th anniversary! (Shameless plug)

Walk along with me on this volunteer day with the Florida Trail Association and a group known as the Weekday Warriors. Sure we’re mostly a bunch of old retired guys (ha ha) but yes, women do this too. Hi Judy! Hi Karen! Hey Linda! However, like all outdoor groups I associate with, we see the future and are trying to bring in younger and more diverse people to carry on, to learn and share. Hey Anthony, grandson, that includes you too!

Our task on this winter day was to maintain trails at the Ft Braden Tract, part of the Lake Talquin State Forest.

Looking at the map - I live near the red dot by I-10 and US-90. It's real close to both state and federal forest lands. The Apalachicola National Forest is south of here.
For laughs, let me say ex-wife #1 has a place near Ft Braden (7); ex #2 is just west of (10) at the confluence of Bear and Rocky Comfort Creeks; and ex #3 is about 2 miles north of me. Funny how that worked out, all of us here west of Tallahassee, but ah, since that covers the map, I don’t marry anymore……  

Ft Braden has 3 loops totaling 9 miles - our focus this day is on the center loop.

Our job is to clear tree limbs from the trail and repaint trail blazes up to standard FTA orange. Here’s Rob working on a blaze near one of the creeks that meander thru.

Farther along is a seep running down to the lake. I am perhaps 20’ above and most the way down a hill. It's fairly steep. In some places around North Florida it becomes a steephead. And here’s a description of these slope forests - they are special.  

I get sad sometimes when I look out at the lake, created by a dam, and then think of all the ravines that were flooded, all those hidden spots of northern beauty at their southernmost habitat.  

Marti from the Florida Forest Service met us as we gathered before going in. It's 2 bucks to get into the place, not much more to camp.  A horse trail criss-crosses the hiking trail and occasionally shares the trail. Our blazes are FTA orange; the horses get pink. Here’s a primitive campsite located along the lake.

Blueberries are abundant along the lake growing in this acidic soil within a moist shady environment. The green stems are a sure indicator.

Crappy photo but I was happy to spot this Parsley Hawthorn. It’s not something I see a lot of, not like the many sparkleberries (aka farkleberry to those a bit farther north). Doesn't it look like parsley?

Two Flower Melick - Melica mutica
You see this everywhere in these woods; it’s all over my yard. There’s so much of it that it’s easy to pass by and not pay attention. The seed stalks reach out 2-3 feet. This grass always seems like a great place for ticks to hang out. Thankfully the cold keeps the bugs at bay.

Bones on the forest floor? Nah, how about a fungus on dead limbs. I’ll guess one of the Peniophora.

If you are a squirrel, you have a choice of 2 tree cavities. One is 8’ up a tree;

The other is a foot off the ground. Hmmmm….

This blazed tree was leaning across the trail. I volunteered to bring it down with my bow saw. Bottom cut was OK but then the tree hung up and I had to do a 2nd (and 3rd and 4th). Great exercise, finally broke a sweat on a cool day!

Our trail leader and coordinator. Howard has done wonderful things for FTA.
He’s happy being sloppy with paint and his blazes are perfect a 2x6 inches.

So Howard says we have another workday this Thursday but I may not go. It's a place I have not seen in awhile, but the day may be rainy and it's a lot farther from home. Whine whine, but we’ll see. Meanwhile y’all - where do you go hiking and what special things do you see? And thanks for stopping by this little bit of North Florida.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:15 AM PST.

Also republished by J Town.

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