Fall in the San Juans

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Crisp invigorating air, mountains with a bit of first snow up high, aspens with their vivid display of color all herald the end of summer and approaching winter. Fall has its own character. It’s refreshing after the heat of summer by the end of which everything seems a bit tired and ready for a change. Even though we know the cold is on its way, Mother Nature puts on a show as if to say “every season has its own time and own beauty.”

Fall color in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado is incredibly beautiful and fleeting. Choosing the right time to visit to try to hit peak color can be challenging. Each year varies not only in timing of the color but also in the brilliance. There are many variable factors. Weather, elevation, and rainfall throughout the year all play a role.

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This year we went north of Durango and Silverton one weekend and saw quite a bit of color but not as overwhelming as some years. We also went to LaPlata Canyon and the color there had barely started. By the following weekend much of the color was gone north of Durango but LaPlata Canyon had mostly turned.

 

Most of the color in southwestern Colorado is the brilliant gold of the aspens with patches of the shrubby red Gambel oak. Then there is also the occasional aspen group that turns a burnished red or orange for additional interest. I’ve wondered why some aspen turned red or orange so I did a bit of research and found some rather interesting ideas.

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Sensing shorter periods of daylight, trees quit producing chlorophyll, the green pigment that helps capture the sun’s energy. This allows the quieter pigments in the leaf to express themselves. These include yellow (xanthophylls) and orange pigments (carotenoids). Reds and purples come from anthocyanins which are present in red and orange aspens but not in yellow aspens. Scientists think since the red occurs on only some trees it is probably a genetic trait. Research has also shown that yellow trees remained yellow from year to year but one tree selected for its redness at the start of a five-year observation was red only for the first year and yellow each following year, and most of the red and orange leaves fade to bland yellow within a week of falling.

 

Of course, this also leads to the question of why trees invest in creating pigments other than energy-gathering green at all. Nobody seems to have answered that but some ideas are that red acts as a sunscreen to keep played-out leaves from getting over excited by photons or that color might throw off green-munching bugs or be a tree’s way of showing insects its vigor to ward off attack.

I think I prefer the idea that the brilliant foliage of fall is simply Mother Nature’s way of enticing us to stop and truly look at and appreciate the beauty and wonder of our world.

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Posted in Autumn Color, Colorado, fall foliage, Nature Photos, San Juan Mountains, scenery, Travels in the U.S., Western U.S. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wildflower Hike in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado

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July in the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado is prime time for wildflowers in the higher elevations. The most spectacular array of wildflowers we encountered this year occurred along the Pass Trail to Engineer Mountain. This trail starts at Coal Bank Pass between Durango and Silverton, Colorado.

We arrived at the trailhead early enough in the morning to snag a parking spot which can be a problem at times. The trail is well-defined and maintains a fairly steady ascent which of course means the return is downhill all the way. It’s always a plus to have the uphill hike on the outbound.

This is an extremely popular trail and the day we hiked it, at times it felt like we were part of a parade. There were lots of people, dogs and many annoying mountain bikers who felt the trail belonged to them. Apparently, they haven’t read the International Mountain Biking “Rules of the Trail” which state that they should yield to other non-motorized trail users. Since this is a pretty narrow trail most of the way, it was somewhat of an issue.

The weather was perfect for hiking, the scenery was gorgeous and the flowers were abundant.

The incredible beauty of the San Juans never fails to impress and to lift one’s spirits.

 

Posted in Colorado, hiking, Nature Photos, San Juan Mountains, scenery, Western U.S., wildflowers | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico

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Fort Union sits in ruins on the plains of eastern New Mexico and has a story to tell. The adobe ruins that are visible from quite a distance are the third iteration of Fort Union. Located strategically on the Santa Fe Trail, the fort played an important role in the history of the western movement and the settlement of the Southwest. We’ve visited other forts from the same time period but the size and scope of activity of this fort were particularly impressive.

Following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 establishing U.S. possession of New Mexico, a permanent military presence was necessary to protect communication and supply lines and to solve the pressing problem in the territory of raiding bands of Indians. Fort Union was begun in July of 1851. The first Fort Union, thrown up as quickly as possible by soldiers on duty there, was primarily built of green logs. With no stockades or breastworks of any kind, Fort Union resembled a frontier village more than a military outpost. In August of 1853, Fort Union had a fighting strength of three officers and 164 men. Military campaigns were mounted in 1854, 1855 and 1860-61 but future events in “the States” soon overshadowed these. Issues of slavery and states’ rights were in the forefront.

The beginning of the Civil War brought changes to Fort Union. Several Fort Union officers, including Fort commander Maj. Henry Hopkins Sibley, resigned their commissions and joined the Confederacy. Fear of an impending Confederate invasion brought about the abandonment of the first fort as its location at the base of bluffs was untenable and the structures were in a state of decay.

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The second Fort Union was an earthen structure known as the “Star Fort” because of the eight points of its perimeter. The raised outlines of the breastworks are still visible today. Once again, structural problems became a huge issue caused by a combination of unskilled soldier labor and inferior materials. The quarters were so bad that most of the garrison lived in tents outside the structure. In addition, the fort was still not located far enough from those same bluffs to be out of range of cannon fire. Fortunately for them, the fort never came under attack.

In March of 1862, a Confederate force, led by former Fort commander Henry Hopkins Sibley, planned to attack Fort Union, commandeer the supplies there and establish a Confederate empire in the Southwest. On their way to Fort Union, the Confederates were defeated at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, primarily because of a surprise Union flanking movement that destroyed their entire supply train. The Confederates retreated back to Texas.

In August of 1862, plans for a third and final Fort Union were approved. This fort was completely different than its predecessors. It was built on stone foundations and erected with adobe bricks in what is now known as Territorial-style architecture. Work on the fort continued during the Civil War even though most of the regular army units were called to the East. Primarily garrisoned by volunteer units, the third Fort Union was completed in 1867.

Fort Union was located near the junction of the Mountain Route (Raton Route) and the Cimarron Route of the Santa Fe Trail. It was the largest fort west of the Mississippi River and served as supply depot not only for wagon trains on the Trail but also for forty to fifty smaller forts in about a five-hundred-mile radius.

Fort Union was a very active, busy place. The third Fort Union was built to accommodate four companies of soldiers and later expanded to house six companies. Over the years units of the 3rd Cavalry, 8th Cavalry, 15th Infantry and 37th Infantry served there. Beginning in 1876, Fort Union became home to four companies of the 9th Cavalry, the “Buffalo Soldiers.”

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The military portion of the fort, the quartermaster depot, and the ordnance depot (arsenal) were very distinct and separate entities. The arsenal was located on the abandoned site of the first Fort Union to be at a safe distance from the main activity area. The parade ground, barracks, officers’ quarters, offices, fort prison, fort chapel and other buildings occupied the military portion.

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The quartermaster depot supplied men, horses, wood fuel, forage for livestock, food supplies, munitions of war, and pretty much anything else needed. The vast collection of warehouses, workshops, and corrals was a hive of constant activity. Hundreds of civilians were employed every year.

The arrival of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad over Raton Pass and into Santa Fe early in 1880 closed the era of the Santa Fe Trail and heralded the end for Fort Union. The Fort hung on until it was finally abandoned early in 1891.

The Army had leased the land from private owners and it reverted to the holders of the land title. The post was scavenged for windows, doors and lumber and, within a few years, became a collection of adobe ruins. Efforts to preserve the ruins began in 1929 and continued for the next 25 years.

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In 1934, 89-year-old Marian Sloan Russell made a trip down the old Santa Fe Trail in search of memories of her youth. She had lived at Fort Union as a very young woman, met her future husband there and was married in the fort’s military chapel. Of that last visit, she said, “I found crumbling walls and tottering chimneys.” She saw activity tearing down the old fortifications and wrote, “Why not let the old walls stand.” Her wish came to fruition on June 28, 1954, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the bill establishing Fort Union National Monument.

Today, the adobe ruins evoke a feeling of that bygone era. Ruts of the Santa Fe Trail are still visible and somehow, if you stand very quietly and listen carefully, you can almost hear the crack of the whips, the straining of harness, the clang of the blacksmith’s hammer, the shouts of men, the cadence of marching feet, and the sound of the bugle over the parade ground.

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For more information:

https://www.nps.gov/foun/index.htm

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/nm-fortunion.html

Gardner, Mark L. Fort Union National Monument. Tucson, AZ: Western National Parks Association, 2005.

Houk, Rose. The Guide to National Parks of the Southwest. Tucson, AZ: Western National Parks Association, 2014.

Russell, Marian Sloan, Land of Enchantment: Memoirs of Marian Russell Along the Santa Fe Trail.

1954, reprint ed. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1981.

 

 

Posted in Fort Union National Monument, National Historic Site, National Monuments, National Park Travels, New Mexico, Southwest History, Travels in the U.S., U.S. History, U.S. military history, U.S. national parks, Western History, Western U.S., Western U.S. National Parks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Virgin Islands National Park

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A Caribbean island paradise in winter sounds like the perfect place to be and our trip to Virgin Islands National Park did not disappoint. High green hills, turquoise water, white sand beaches and ruins that evoke an era of sugar production and the plantation system all are to be found on St. John. We found beautiful scenery, nice hiking and interesting history.

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Virgin Islands National Park is on the island of St. John but since there is no airport there, we flew into Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas. From there we took a taxi (really a van which dropped people off at numerous places) to the ferry at Red Hook. Due to the circuitous route created by the destinations of various people, we actually got a pretty good tour of the island. We then boarded the ferry to Cruz Bay, St. John, where the car rental person met us at the dock and took us to pick up the jeep we rented.

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In the Virgin Islands, you drive on the left side of the road. The roads are very narrow, winding, and steep and the highest speed limit posted was 20 miles per hour. There was a reason. The roads in general were in pretty bad repair with lots of potholes. There are also the wild donkeys, goats, and chickens that are frequently on the road. It didn’t take long to adjust to driving on the “wrong” side of the road but it was always a challenge to be sure to look the correct way before pulling out onto a road.

We never did get a satisfactory answer as to why they drive on the left – no one seems to really know.

We decided to try another new experience on this trip. We booked our stay at an eco-resort. So, after getting our jeep and a quick stop at a grocery store, we headed across the island to Concordia Eco-Resort. The resort offers several types of accommodations but we chose an eco-tent which was a wood-framed, soft-sided structure perched high up on the hillside overlooking Saltpond Bay.

Our “tent” contained all the amenities (bathroom, kitchen, beds) and was completely self-contained with solar power, water catchment, and solar shower. Being perched high on the hillside, our deck gave us a magnificent view of the bay and other islands. It also meant that we were 157 stair-steps up the hill from the office and restaurant. Fortunately, there was a road up top so we didn’t have to carry our gear up and down.

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In 1493, Columbus sighted the islands and cays and named them after St Ursula’s legendary 11,000 virgins. Archeological work shows that people have inhabited the islands for 3,000 years and when Columbus arrived there was a small Taino population. Since then, Spain, France, Holland, England, Denmark and the United States have controlled various islands at different times.

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Attracted by lucrative sugar cane cultivation, the Danes took formal possession in 1694 and in 1718 established the first permanent European settlement on St. John. By 1733 nearly all of St. John was planted in sugar cane and cotton and as this economy grew so did the demand for slaves. In 1733 the slaves revolted, controlled the island for six months and were finally subdued by French troops from Martinique. The plantation system continued for over a hundred years until the emancipation of enslaved people in 1848. There are ruins of sugar mills and estate houses throughout the island.

The Annaberg Sugar Mill ruins offer a glimpse at the size and scope of these operations. The windmill at Annaberg was one of five on the island.

The windmill, horse mill and factory buildings were the center of operations for 13-15,000 acres of six consolidated estates. We asked how sugar cane could be grown on such steep terrain and were told that the steep hillsides were terraced to provide relatively flat areas for cultivation.

With the demise of the sugar plantations, the islanders depended on cattle and subsistence farming as well as bay rum production. In 1917, fearful that the Germans might capture the islands during World War I, the United States bought St. John, St. Croix, St. Thomas and about 50 smaller islands from Denmark for 25 million dollars.

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People began to see the Virgin Islands as a vacation paradise and by the 1930’s, the tourist industry took off. In 1956 conservationist Laurence S. Rockefeller donated more than 5,000 acres on St. John for a national park. In 1962, the park was enlarged to include over 5,000 acres of adjacent offshore marine habitat.

We took a number of short hikes, explored pretty much every road on the island, and spent a day on the beach at Francis Bay. Neither of us had ever snorkeled so we rented equipment and gave it a try. I can’t say it was particularly successful although Tom had better luck than I did. I couldn’t ever really get the mask to seal so that didn’t work well. However, the beach was beautiful and the water was comfortably warm.

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One evening at the resort, a National Park volunteer brought a telescope and did a night sky presentation. We got a look at two planets, the moon, and a number of constellations. The National Park volunteer gave an interesting talk on the movement of the constellations throughout the seasons and explained why we were unable to find the Big Dipper. It was a beautiful evening and worth the 157 stair-steps back up to our tent overlooking the bay.

The boundary of Virgin Islands National Park incudes about three-quarters of St. John but owns only slightly more than half of the island. Sometimes it is a little difficult to know whether you are truly in the national park or not with private inholdings throughout and the national park visitor center being located in the town of Cruz Bay outside the park boundary.

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Virgin Islands National Park exemplifies “island style” – laid-back, friendly, beautiful and welcoming.

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For more information:

https://www.nps.gov/viis/index.htm

Posted in hiking, History, National Park, National Park Travels, Nature Photos, scenery, Travels in the U.S., U.S. national parks, Virgin Islands National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dry Tortugas National Park

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For our 48th national park out of the 59, we visited Dry Tortugas National Park in February. In the Gulf of Mexico, about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, a bird and marine life sanctuary, the park includes seven small low-lying islands and 100 square miles of sea. Towering incongruously on Garden Key is Fort Jefferson, a relic of 19th century military strategy.

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The only way to access Dry Tortugas is either by seaplane or boat so we booked a day-long trip on the Yankee Freedom III. Since there is only one boat a day, you must book well in advance to secure a space. The tour included breakfast, lunch and narration, as well as a guided tour of the fort. The boat ride each way was two hours so we were hoping it would all be worth it. We were not disappointed. In fact, we found Fort Jefferson really fascinating as we are both American history buffs.

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Dry Tortugas National Park was established in 1992 but has a history dating back to 1513 when Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León dropped anchor there. Upon arrival, he and his crew found the area teeming with wildlife. There were large numbers of birds and sea turtles, all of which were important sources of food for early mariners. Ponce de León named the islands “Las Islas de Tortugas” (The Islands of Turtles) for the hundreds of turtles found there. Later “Dry” was added to the name on charts to warn mariners that there was no fresh water on the islands.

Once discovered, the Dry Tortugas became a landmark for sailing ships passing through the Florida Straits. Treasure fleets from South and Central America discovered this route was the fastest way back to Europe. Shallow reefs, combined with strong currents and frequent storms proved the undoing of many vessels. There are over 250 documented shipwrecks in the Dry Tortugas, dating from the 16th century to the present. The first lighthouse was built on Garden Key in 1826 – a taller lighthouse was built in 1857 on Loggerhead Key.

Arriving at Garden Key, the first thought is that Fort Jefferson covers the entire island and maybe even a little bit more. We were told that the plan for the fort was a standard plan used in the 1800’s for coastal fortifications and that it did not actually fit the island so they “built more island” to accommodate. Surrounded by a moat and accessible only through a drawbridge, Fort Jefferson was intended to be defended well.

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We took an hour-long guided tour of the fort which not only provided a lot of information but also roused our curiosity for even more. So, after having lunch back on the boat, we set off on our own self-guided tour. There are numerous explanatory exhibits. With more questions, we then cornered a ranger. He was most helpful and his knowledge, love of, and interest in this park were obvious. Of course, I also bought a book about the park – mandatory in my mind whenever we visit a park.

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Possible disruption of the shipping lanes in the Gulf of Mexico by hostile nations was an initial motive for building a 450-gun, 2.000-man fort on this tiny remote island although there was never more than 200 guns and approximately 1,000 soldiers. The fort was also to provide a safe harbor for warships, facilities for repairs, and a station for water, supplies and munitions. The intimidation factor of this massive fort rising out of the sea was also important.

In 1845, President James K. Polk proclaimed Garden Key a military reservation. Begun in 1846, building on the fort continued for about 30 years and was never completed. The fort is an elongated hexagon, rising 45 feet above the sea, built of masonry and brick and surrounded by a 70-foot wide moat. Unfortunately, the enormous weight of the structure proved to be a problem and one can see where the fort has settled. We were told much of the upper portion was never finished because of the weight issue.

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A half-mile walk on the moat seawall provides a perspective on the massiveness of the fort. There are two distinct colors of brick used in the fort. The lower orange brick was manufactured in Pensacola, Florida, but when Florida seceded from the Union in the Civil War this was no longer available for a Union fort and the upper red brick was shipped in from Maine. Materials and supplies for this fort always were somewhat of a logistical nightmare.

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The elaborate architecture containing over 2000 arches and the superb workmanship of Fort Jefferson are captivating. Given the location, hot and humid climate, generally miserable working conditions, and lack of many amenities, it is impressive. At the same time, the fort was never finished and when we inquired about the overall cost of the thirty years’ worth of building the answer was that no one really knows as records were sketchy.

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Given the fact that the fort was never actually involved in a battle, it seems that this massive government project never really fulfilled its purpose. However, the intimidation factor was important as was its value for other purposes.

The huge fort with massive Parrott rifled cannons that could fire a 250lb. cannonball over three miles gave pause to any passing ship. The fort also boasted 25-ton Rodman cannons. There are only 25 of these smoothbore civil war cannons known to still exist and six of them are at Fort Jefferson.

Fort Jefferson was built with over 100 cisterns to catch and store the rainfall with a total capacity of nearly two million gallons. Later water distilling plants were added of make fresh water from the sea to supplement the rainwater

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During the Civil War, Fort Jefferson served as a military prison. One of the most famous prisoners was Dr. Samuel Mudd, the physician who set John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg after his assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. After serving selflessly during yellow fever outbreaks at the Fort, Mudd was later pardoned and released.

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In 1889, the Army transferred the fort to the Marine-Hospital Service as a quarantine station. During the Spanish-American War, Fort Jefferson served as a disinfection station and supply depot, and a coaling station was constructed. It became part of the Naval Station of Key West in 1900. The fort was permanently abandoned in 1907.

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In 1904, the Carnegie Institution established a marine research laboratory on Loggerhead Key, which continued until 1939. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt set aside the “Tortugas Keys Reservation” as a bird sanctuary. In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the park as Fort Jefferson National Monument under the National Park Service. In 1992 an act of Congress changed it to Dry Tortugas National Park, with the purpose being protection of marine animals and natural resources as well as protecting cultural resources and shipwrecks.

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For more information:

https://www.nps.gov/drto/index.htm

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Everglades National Park

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Everglades National Park in south Florida is very different from any of the other national parks we have visited. Established in 1947, at 1,507,850 acres Everglades is the third largest national park in the Lower 48. Although most U.S. national parks preserve unique geographic features, Everglades National Park was the first created to protect a fragile ecosystem which supports more than 350 species of birds and over 1,000 species of plants, including 120 species of trees.

A subtropical wilderness of saw-grass prairie, junglelike hammock, and mangrove swamp, Everglades was originally created to reserve a portion of this vast ecosystem as a wildlife preserve. Although short-term visitors don’t see most of them, more species of flora and fauna exist in the Everglades than in any other national park. Most commonly seen are alligators and birds. During our visit, many migratory birds were present.

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The popular image of a quicksand-filled swamp is far from the reality of the Everglades. The floor of the Everglades is rock hard but porous as a sponge. During the summer, the limestone bedrock in the fresh-water Glades is well underwater but by spring, jagged eroded limestone stands dry and white in the hot sun.

There are two seasons: wet and dry. The diverse life in the Everglades depends upon a rhythm of abundance and drought. That balance has been increasingly threatened by land development and agribusinesses around the park which divert precious water.

Our first exploration began at Flamingo in the southernmost part of the park. There we boarded a boat for a backcountry tour

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The tour took us from Flamingo north on Buttonwood Canal, through Coot Bay and Tarpon Creek to Whitewater Bay on a portion of the Wilderness Waterway. Intrepid souls can travel the whole length of the park by canoe or kayak, carrying absolutely everything they need for the trip of roughly two weeks. There are elevated platforms, called chickees, at strategic spots for camping. We met a couple of canoers who were on the ninth day of their trip. They were still smiling.

Buttonwood Canal was built to provide rangers a shorter route from Flamingo to patrolling the backcountry. It is three miles long and cut off about 40 miles to reach Whitewater Bay. Unfortunately, the resulting inflow of salt water from the bay wreaked havoc on the ecosystem. It took about 25 years before a system of locks was instituted to restore the balance.

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In this part of the park, fresh and sea water mix creating brackish water. This is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist. We did see alligators but no crocodiles. Alligators thrive in fresh water while crocodiles prefer salty and brackish. A variety of birds appeared during our tour.

We learned there are three types of mangroves – red, white and black – which grow here. They look somewhat like they are on stilts with roots extending out and down in tangled masses. Tannic acid from fallen mangrove leaves gives the water its red-brown color. The root systems provide a nursery for many marine animals and their branches serve as rest stop for migratory birds.

We did several short hikes to hammocks. These hammocks appear as humps of trees emerging above the flat landscape. The hammocks are “tree islands” where hardwoods such as mahogany, live oak and gumbo limbo grow on limestone mounds. Many are surrounded by “moats” created by runoff from the island. These hammocks serve as homes for a variety of animals and were where the Indian residents of the Everglades lived and grew their crops.

The Anhinga Trail, near the visitor center, a half mile long, boardwalk constructed above water, was the most crowded trail we hiked. Neither of us had ever heard of an anhinga – turns out it is a water bird which fishes with its sharp bill and then spends time spreading its wings in the sun to dry and reheat the water-cooled blood racing through the thin wings. Sometimes called the water turkey or snakebird the anhinga swims with its long sinewy neck sticking out of the water. We enjoyed watching them, including a nest of young. This area also was home to a variety of other birds.

At one point, we were observing a heron and an alligator “co-existing.” It really looked like we were about to see nature in the raw but the bird very calmly and slowly moved away as the gator moved, also very slowly, closer. The alligator takes a meal only once or twice a week so maybe this was the heron’s lucky day and the gator wasn’t hungry.

In the northern part of the park, we arrived at the Shark Valley entrance before the gates opened but were treated to sightings of an alligator and numerous birds while we waited. The purple gallinule has large feet which enable it to walk across aquatic plants hunting for insects.

On the two-hour narrated tram tour in Shark Valley, we were told you don’t call the Everglades a swamp – it’s a “river of grass.” The overwhelming feature of the Everglades is its flatness – the 1.5 million acres of the park average an elevation of 11 feet. The “river of grass” is roughly 75 miles wide and over 100 miles long and the water from Lake Okeechobee flows southward at about ¼ mile per day which means that water from the northern part takes over a month to get to the gulf.

During the tram tour, Tom counted more than 50 adult alligators as well as numerous juveniles and hatchlings. In addition to all the alligators (some extremely near), we saw countless wading birds and several turtles. The alligator is an important part of the balance in the Everglades and is a provider as well as a consumer of life. Female alligators guard their nests but even so, the eggs and hatchlings often become food for other animals and birds. Although the alligator itself eats just about every other animal in the Glades and can strike lightning fast, it does eat rarely. In dry times, the alligator roots out mud and plants from depressions in the bedrock until reaching water, creating the “gator holes” to which all other living things gravitate for water, thus helping maintain the delicate balance of life in the Everglades.

 

Everglades National Park is a truly unique and fascinating place.

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For more information:

https://www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm

https://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/everglades-national-park

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/76

 

Posted in Everglades National Park, Florida, National Park, National Park Travels, Nature Photos, Travel, Travels in the U.S., wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

National Parks Travels

An update on our bucket list goal of visiting all 59 U.S. National Parks — we have now visited 49 of them!

List of National Parks * We’ve been there + Yet to visit

+Acadia National Park, Maine
+American Samoa National Park, American Samoa Territory
*Arches National Park, Utah
*Badlands National Park, South Dakota
*Big Bend National Park, Texas
*Biscayne National Park, Florida
*Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
*Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
*Canyonlands National Park, Utah
*Capitol Reef National Park Utah
*Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
*Channel Islands National Park, California
+Congaree National Park, South Carolina
*Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
+Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
*Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada
*Denali National Park, Alaska
*Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
*Everglades National Park, Florida
*Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska
*Glacier National Park, Montana
*Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
*Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
*Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
*Great Basin National Park, Nevada
*Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
+Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
*Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
+Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
*Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
*Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
+Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
*Joshua Tree National Park, California
*Katmai National Park, Alaska
*Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
*Kings Canyon National Park, California
*Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska
*Lake Clark National Park, Alaska
+Lassen Volcanic Park, California
+Mammoth Cave Park, Kentucky
*Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
*Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
*North Cascades National Park, Washington
*Olympic National Park, Washington
*Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
*Pinnacles National Park, California
+Redwood National Park, California
*Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
*Saguaro National Park, Arizona
*Sequoia National Park, California
+Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
*Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
*Virgin Islands National Park, US Virgin Islands
+Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
*Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
*Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska
*Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
*Yosemite National Park, California
*Zion National Park, Utah

Posted in National Park, National Park Travels, Travels in the U.S., U.S. national parks | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment