Late June in Congaree National Park

Two weeks ago some friends visited from North Carolina. We explored some of the trails in Congaree National Park. It was a warm day, with a high around 102 degrees F. Kermit was  really feeling the heat, with the recent move and everything associated with that, I hadn’t been taking him for the usual long walks. 

The National Park Service does prescribed burns to manage the upland pine forests. Beware of chiggers! 

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

Living in Louisiana, and now in South Carolina, I have really enjoyed seeing the green anole. It’s a beautiful little lizard with the ability to change its color. They move lightning-fast, and can jump surprisingly far. 
When I was a child, my family lived near Augusta Georgia. My twin brother and I use to spend hours trying to catch these little lizards. They’re tough to photograph because they can be rather shy and quick to flee. I photographed this lizard this morning in one of the shrubs in front of our house. The way the anole is peeking out of the leaves, looking at me, it reminds me of the “clever girl” velociraptor  scene in the movie Jurassic Park.

Congaree National Park (December 2016)

Congaree National Park is a beautiful forest and wetland complex. It is considered the largest intact old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. It is a relatively new park, having been designated as such in 2003, prior to that it was a National Monument.

Kermit and I visited Congaree during the last week in December. It was quite warm, once we got walking I was quite comfortable in a t-shirt (although everyone else was bundled up in winter coats!).

Congaree is a very biodiverse area, with some incredible cypress and tupelo stands.

Kermit does not have the best sitting posture   🙂

Much of Congaree was flooded during this visit

Crayfish holes

Cypress knees

Me and Kermit! Short sleeves in December! 

Shallow roots, another wetland indicator
A curious gray squirrel

Great Smoky Mountains National Park- Chimney Tops

In May of 2015, I spent some time with family visiting Smoky Mountain National Park. I’ve been negligent with this blog, for several reasons, not least of which is because last fall my wife and I moved from Louisiana to South Carolina. So there’s plenty to catch up on. 
While in TN, I had the chance to do some hiking, including up Chimney Tops, which is one of the many popular hikes in the Smoky Mountains. 

The hike up was beautifully lush, with many little verdant coves such as this one
I believe this is Flatbacked Millipede, Sigmoria trimaculata
Beautiful timber check steps

I’ve been many trails in the northeast, and the steps along this trail are some of he nicest I have ever seen. My brother builds trails like this for the National Park Service in Washington.

Beautiful stone check steps

The rock outcropping on Chimney Tops, offering a 360-degree panoramic view
I did not climb all the way to the top. The rock outcropping was still wet from rain earlier in the day. 

The southern Appalachians reminds me of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. The views are similar, with some overlap in plant species,  but the plant communities of the southern Appalachians are famously diverse.  Now that I live in SC, I look forward to exploring