Hiking

  • Hiking,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places

    Big Sky Country

    A week in the Davis Mountains, spring this time instead of our usual Thanksgiving. Which meant warmer, but much windier weather, and the beginning of spring blooms for plants we haven’t gotten to see bloom before. All the warm weather and early blooms will be dusted with snow this weekend as a cold front came through last night, our last night. The city of Fort Davis was preparing for the storm by salting the roads and brought out a big truck with some weird thing on the front, and after our southern sensibilities faded we realized was a snow plow! Hah! You certainly don’t see those around our part of…

  • Florida,  Hiking,  Native Plants,  Outdoors,  Travel & Places

    Mahogany Hammock Trail at Everglades National Park (2007)

    Let’s travel back to Florida and less depressing things like losing a state park—because nature continues on even while we fight to save it. I actually remember very little about this trail. I can recall part of the boardwalk and that there were mosquitoes but I don’t recall seeing some of these plants! The peeling skin-like bark of a gumbo limbo tree, Bursera simaruba The fruits of a Florida strangler fig, Ficus aurea A nurse log filled with long strapferns, Campyloneurum phyllitidis…a common scene in many swampy hammocks in south Florida. An orchid that has died, probably a butterfly orchid. Hammock viper’s-tail, Pentalinon luteum. This is one of the plants…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places

    Goodbye to a State Park | Fairfield Lake State Park

    Carolina larkspur, Delphinium carolinianum Rose bluet, Houstonia rosea Prostrate grapefern, Sceptridium lunaroides Trout lilies, Erythronium sp. Spiranthes tuberosa Carolina violet, Viola villosa—so many all over the park! I have never seen so many. Parlin’s pussytoes, Antennaria parlinii “One waxes pessimistic? Not so much … There is a pessimism about land which, after it has been with you a long time, becomes merely factual. Men increase; country suffers. Though I sign up with organizations that oppose the process, I sign without great hope.… Islands of wildlife and native flora may be saved, as they should be, but the big, sloppy, rich, teeming spraddle will go. It always has.” ― John Graves,…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Thoughts,  Travel & Places

    Does Texas actually care about its land? The Pending Loss of Fairfield Lake State Park

    Sometime in the fall I started a Substack newsletter where I was hoping to focus my writing efforts on Texas nature and environmental writing. I was going to re-purpose some blog posts here but also work on focusing on other important environmental news efforts in the state. It was a different kind of writing than what I typically share here, which is sometimes rambling and a lot more personal. The Substack was a way for me to stretch my writing skills and write for a different audience. If you haven’t heard of Substack, it’s a newsletter platform that allows writers to be paid if they want, so you can write…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places

    Engulfed in Fungus – Attack of the Akanthomyces sp.

    Forget COVID-19, it’s fungi we should be worried about! We stumbled across this moth covered in a fungus in Angelina National Forest last October and I knew it was one of the cordyceps family fungi as soon as I saw it, though I couldn’t quite place the name at the time. I had seen several people post their own photos of insects parasitized by this fungus or a related species in the few months prior and just never thought I’d stumble across my own sighting. So, the fun thing about these fungi is that once they parasitize their host, they cover the body with this weird growth so that it…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors

    Insects Lurking About

    One of my favorite things to do when I have the time while hiking is to move slowly and see what insects and arachnids may be lurking about on a plant. There’s a good chance one is hiding in plain sight, like this American nursery web spider, Pisuarina mira. Common boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, the perfect haunt for that spider as it waits for insects to come nectar! This unassuming goldenrod looks devoid of faunal life but… you would be wrong. I’m unsure which bee this is and I may not ever get an answer because I only have the one photo, but it may be one of the leaf cutter…

  • Florida,  Hiking,  Native Plants,  Outdoors,  Travel & Places

    Christian Point Trail at Everglades National Park (2007)

    Looking back through some of these photos I wondered why I didn’t bother editing some of them. I had completed a small handful but had left a decent amount untouched for over a decade it seems. And it made me wonder why we didn’t make the effort to go into Everglades NP more often, though I know the reason why—you had to pay to go in! Big Cypress and so many other areas were free, and though we did pay for a state park pass, the pass let us in to a lot of parks and the ENP pass didn’t. That said, it isn’t like I wasn’t spending 5 days…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places

    Bartonia texana in the Big Thicket

    If you’ve been reading this blog for a few years, you may remember my post from 2020 about finding Texas screwsteam, Bartonia texana. Last year we didn’t go back to the same location and instead went searching in the Big Thicket. I’m being intentionally vague on locations because it is a sensitive plant species and is under review by USFWS for listing under the ESA. This location was a bit easier to get to, less bushwhacking, for which I was grateful. Two years of extensive bushwhacking to the other location had worn on me, though I do like the location once we get there! And there were a lot more…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places

    Beech Creek Explorations in the Big Thicket

    To continue a bit from last week’s post with the nodding nixies, today I’ll share a few items from the Beech Woods trail at the Beech Creek Unit of the Big Thicket. We’ll start with this Rosy Wolfsnail, Euglandina rosea, seen near the picnic area at the trail head. Followed by an invasive Asian Tramp Snail, Bradybaena similaris. And a self portrait with my best kiddo! That tooth is mostly grown in now. This was a very interesting mushroom I found, turns out to be a Stalked Puffball-in-Aspic, Calostoma cinnabarinum. Chris is admiring something about this tree but I have no idea what! Patient poses for mom on a very…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places,  Wildflowers

    First Encounters with Nodding Nixies (Apteria aphylla)

    Apteria aphylla, nodding nixies, were one of those fall blooming species that I had been dying to see for several years now. Chris couldn’t believe I hadn’t come across any but we hadn’t been in their habitat locations during the fall and typically he’s the one doing the field work these days which meant he’s had ample opportunities to see them, moreso than I have. But, seeing them in person finally happened for me when I came across the in the Big Thicket last year. And there were tons to see! Nodding nixies are in the Burmanniaceae family, which means if you’ve ever seen a Burmannia spp. before, you know…