Part I in case you missed it.
After scoping out the fungus I saw a very interesting swamp area, an area that reminded me of Little Slough, substituting water elm for pop ash and pond apples. And of course no epiphytes covering the tree branches.
It also reminded me of months of tromping around the Big Thicket 2.5 years ago. I’m definitely a wetland and swamp person.
After meandering through the wetland for a little bit I hopped back onto the pipeline right-of-way before ducking back off on another trail on the north side of the wetland. It headed east before turning alongside what I later realized was the perimeter barbed wire fenceline for the property. I crossed a small creek that was flowing pretty quickly beneath the culvert that went under the trail, taking runoff downstream to Spring Creek.
I’d just stopped to take a photo of this trifoliate orange when I noticed a man and woman coming from the north down the trail. I asked how far it was to the creek and they replied that they had not actually seen the creek because the path eventually turned and was flooded in that direction. I opted to continue on and see how badly flooded it really was.
Not twenty yards further down the trail I saw orange balls on the ground. My first reaction was WooHoo! Citrus like in Florida! and then I whipped back into reality and knew they were trifoliate orange fruits.
Curious because I had never seen trifoliate orange fruit before, I opened one of them up. It was quite full of seeds and not much pulp, but despite knowing it might not taste good I gave it a few licks. It really wasn’t that bad and wasn’t as bitter as I was expecting. I probably could have juiced them and added a bit of sugar and the whole deal would have been a tasty treat. Instead, I left my discovery on the ground for the forest critters.
After my taste test, I continued on down the trail. The trail took a steep (relatively speaking here, this is southeast Texas after all) jaunt downhill and it was very clear I was not going any further. The creek had overtaken the trail along the bank and this was as far as I was going to go. I backtracked and immediately nearly ran into a jogger. I warned him of the water but he didn’t hear me due to the earbuds in his ears. He turned around quickly and then detoured to another trail that I’d bypased about fifty feet beforehand. I followed it around until I saw him returning, blocked yet again by flooded trail. It looked like I’d be heading back the way I came.
When I arrived back at the creek I’d passed a bit ago I noticed a small singletrack that went along the edge of the creek. It faded somewhat as I continued west, brush and downed trees keeping most people from allowing the trail to remain open. The path was still visible though and so I made my way over the logs and brambles and found yet another right-of-way. Not quite ready to head back yet I decided to go back towards Spring Creek only to be stopped by flooded trail that I didn’t feel like wading across. As I pondered my next plan I heard loud thumps echoing in the forest.
I listened a few more seconds and determined the direction it was coming from. Cautiously I eased over to where I could get a glimpse of it. Ivory billed woodpecker—haha, I wish. Just a good ol’ pileated woodpecker going to town on a sweetgum limb.
I took a short video. I apologise for the shaking. It was difficult to keep the the long lens straight and I was starting to get shaky due to lack of coffee and the need for something to eat as it was already lunchtime.
The pileated sealed the deal for the end of the hike and I turned back to head down the right-of-way to try to catch the pipeline I’d walked on earlier and head south. Eventually I made my way out but I know I will definitely head back sometime in the future to explore again.