Checking out the first branch on river right (left as we paddled upstream from Womack Creek Campground landing), two trees blocked further access (except by portage) beyond. This is a branch of the Ochlockonee which one will pass to get to Womack Creek, but when the tide is in, it’s a good place to explore and wait the rest of the crew if paddling with a group. Be alert for submerged snags: it’s shallow and muddy and in early spring has a early blooming patches of golden clubs and later, in the same area, lizard’s tail plants.
Fortunately, this section of Tate’s Hell State Forest was spared from downed trees preventing passage, except for a leaning tree which when it falls will block further upstream through paddling. Currently none of the downed trees will block through passage to Nick’s Road campsite, 3.75 miles from put-in at Womack Creek campground.
At Nick’s campground, Tate’s Hell forestry staff have cut and cleared off fallen trees, leaving only the debris which the hosts will clean up. The debris, when dried, should make very good fire-pit starters.
Noticeably absent this year are masses of vining asters and narrow leaf sunflowers which attract butterflies and other insects to the creek. Only a few of these were blooming.
A new plant appeared, purple sneeze weed, on a log which like many partially immersed logs when it catches mud and debris from upstream become growing medium for plants.
A few clematis crispa flowers (and their seed pods) can be seen. The green fly orchid constantly surprises us by blooming continuously all year round.
North Florida’s answer to maples and oaks turning color in the fall, sweet gum and Florida maples are beginning to turn.
And setting the holiday stage are three varieties of native hollies: yaupon, dahoon and American holly.
Other seeds, like swamp titi (below), Walter’s viburnum, arrow wood, muscadine, palmetto provide food for birds and other creatures of that creek.
Two small alligators, the larger juvenile in alligator weed, are too young to be afraid of paddlers. Alligator weed, an invasive species which appeared earlier this year, will have to be cleared out. To our knowledge there are no invasives on Womack Creek, or invasives which are not cleared out when sighted.
A small flock of ducks have returned, a great blue heron, the ubiquitous kingfisher which is impossible to photograph because it won’t sit still.
Womack Creek is open for paddling.