Sunday, November 19, 2006

Lake Somerville Trailway

This weekend Thomas, Matthew, and myself headed out to Lake Somerville Trailway for a little backpacking fun. The trailway runs between two main camping/park areas called Birch Creek and Nails Creek. We walked close to 8 miles the first day, taking a couple of un-intended hikes off the main trail, and almost 7 out the next day. The Trailway is in the middle of Blackland Prarie and the scenery was simply gorgeous.

This was a noisy place. Several Boy Scout troops were in the area and there was the constant drone of some kind of machinery. There were hunters in the area too and we heard gunfire quite a few times, especially around dawn. After those first shots were fired, a few scared ducks went flying over our campsite to get away. Speaking of campsites...we had to stealth camp because the boyscouts dominated all the designated camping areas. So we camped in what we think was a day area at Newman Bottom somewhat close to a creek. It was a nice spot and no one was around. We were far enough away that we didn't hear any of the scouts anymore, and the mechanical sounds were quite faded.

Despite the man made noise, wildlife was abundant and we saw and heard plenty. Ferrel hogs showed up on the scene a couple of times, which was the first time I have ever seen wild hogs while walking about. I was quite thrilled by that! We also encountered deer which we normally do, but one in particular was a large buck right ahead of us on the trail. I got a shot of it, but it didn't turn out well...I'll post it anyway.

Birds of all kinds were in the area and we spotted a huge owl that appeared to be hunting...I think it was chasing a bird, or maybe the bird was chasing the owl...I can't be sure. Towards evening flocks of chatty ducks flew over our camp site to their roosting places. Then at night, many coyotes broke out in yips and howels and could be heard quite clearly in several different areas. I don't think they were too far away from us, and their racket set off the Great Horned Owls calling back and forth to each other in the night. It was quite the auditory treat and lent an air of excitement to the trip. But the best part of all, at least for me, was walking through cloud after cloud of butterflies. We saw thousands of them in the park and to be surrounded by so many at one time was something I've never experienced. It was almost surreal. Unfortunately none of my butterfly pics turned out.

After the sun had set, we turned our attention to the night sky and could see the Milky Way. We were also fortunate enough to see a few meteors streaking across the sky. Then after a while of the temp steadily falling, we grew weary of the cold and retired to our tents for the night. The next morning I woke up a little chilled and damp because of the condensation on the tent walls, but things warmed up quickly after the sun came up and all was well. This was a great trip and I look forward to the next!

Day One
Map Showing Trailway. Birch Camp is where we started(off to the far right of map)and made our way over to Newman Bottom shown on left side of map. Total trip miles almost 15.
Grass almost as tall as me. In this shot I'm looking uphill. The trees in the background are actually tall, but because of the sharp incline I can only see their tops.
A Pond Reflection
Moss Monster
Moss Monster Up Close
Can You See the Deer?
Darkness Falls

Day Two
Sparkling Water
Love Birds(actually these are vultures)
Ferrel Hogs. After these adults passed over the trail, several young followed. You have to click on this picture to see the hogs better.

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