Tag Archives: Tate’s Hell State Forest

How About These Raccoons?

It’s been three times now in 2018, we’ve spotted a family a racoons digging in the mud for food at Womack Creek, Tate’s Hell State Forest.

We have been monitoring this creek since 2012 and except for a pair of mating raccoons (in a tree!), they have been noticeably out of sight.

All three sightings have been in the morning under overcast skies and at low tide.

The first time around — over a month ago, the mother and three kits were first sighted.  Mom gave an alarm call and all three kits and mom got out of sight.  Second time around, mom seemed less alarmed and let the two kits be where they were, foraging in the mud.  She, herself, absented herself into the brush.  Today, the larger, possibly the mother,  ambled into the bush, leaving two kits to dig in the mud.  Of the two kits, one was less intimidated and continued digging as the kayak floated nearer to it.

New River – very low on January 19, 2018

Campsite 1 on the New River is around 1 mile from the put-in at FR 22 and several miles through winding sandy forestry roads by car.  Normally the water is up to the banks.  Here are some other photos from that site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campsite 17, the next campsite on the river, around 8 miles down has exposed logs around a bend to the north of the campsite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Gully Branch Road a young kayaker from Wacissa was docking his Bass Pro fishing kayak, his day an absolute bust, but he was grateful that he caught the inflowing tide on the upriver paddle back to where his van was parked.  He’s camping at Pidcock Road campground on Cash Creek and yesterday caught 16 fish.  We’ve always seen fish jumping on Cash creek, rarely on the New, but he was hoping to get a few catfish.   Tomorrow his friends are joining him; hopefully they’ll be successful.

Lots of hunters on the roads.

 

Below freezing week before — green fly orchids still blooming!

The only tree orchid in north Florida, the green fly orchid, supposedly blooms in the spring and summer.  Not so on Womack Creek.  We’ve seen it blooming all year round.

This one survived the one week of freezing temperatures.  January 13, 2018.

Rock Landing, Tate’s Hell State Forest: Day Use and Campground – January 11, 2018

 

 

Rocking Landing on the Crooked River has 3 campsites, a nice day use area with covered pavilion, and vault toilets.  The concrete landing is a favorite landing for boats.

This campground is a 2.5 miles walk to the Womack Creek Campground with its showers and flush toilets.  There is no potable water source here.

The covered pavilion and a  concrete picnic table/bench near the water provide good places to stop for a picnic.

There are three camp sites, out of the way of the Day use area, but near the vault toilets which can be seen on the right side of the road.

 

 

 

Loop Landing Campground on Crooked River, Tate’s Hell – January 11, 2018

It was drizzly, but the fog had lifted.

It did not deter the two fishermen who had launched from Rock Landing, east on Crooked River.

This is one of the nicest primitive camping sites in Tate’s Hell, very private and secluded and on the Crooked River.

Today, a camper was parked there and there was trash all around which we picked up and deposited at the trash bins at Rock Landing Day Use area.

There’s a landing perfect for canoes and kayaks.

 

 

And a long private driveway, although only a 1 mile walk to the Womack Creek Campground with its flush toilets and hot showers.

Lovely place to camp and to paddle.

 

Foggy, Drizzly morning on Womack Creek – January 11, 2018

 

 Yesterday, after a week of sub-freezing lows and cold days, we ventured out to a monitoring paddle on Womack Creek, Tate’s Hell.    Kayaks unloaded at the landing, we discovered we left our camera at home — 63 miles away.    Our reports are mainly photographs of changes on the creek — no camera, no report. We chose to return home to try again today.   The weather report predicted a slight chance of rain, but overcast skies.   This was OK.

Today,  we left home one hour later. Had we left at the same time as yesterday, we would have been driving in thick fog.  The fog lifted, we had sufficiently visibility, but, approaching the Franklin county line, the windshield showed droplets of light mist, which increased to minor drizzle.  The temperature was in the 60’s, not enough to cause hypothermia, but these drizzly rains can really soak into you on the creek, so we decided to check out two nearby campgrounds which we hadn’t seen for over a year instead of waiting out the rain.   Both are nice camping spots on the Crooked River.

When we returned to Womack Creek landing, this is what we saw.  It was still raining; we chose not to spend the next 3-4 hours up the creek and drove home again.

Potential campers and paddlers, however, may want to see  what Womack Creek Campground looks like.

This is the day use area with a covered picnic area and 2 grills and full service restrooms.  Water is not potable — bring your own.  

When camping, this very wide veranda in the restroom building is a great place to rock and enjoy the Ochlockonee River.  

It’ll be a  matter of time before the whole restroom building is going into the river.  Camp hosts have mentioned this situation to management, but little seems to have been done to correct the erosion.   It is now closing in up  to the dripline of the  roof.

Mark, the host, keeps the restrooms very fresh & clean and uses his own money to pay for soap, hanging plants and homey touches to the restroom.  This is the women’s restroom with 2 toilet stalls and one shower stall.

The freeze the week before left bronzed fern plants at the landing.

Silvering, a common shrub along the creek which blooms after the vining aster and at the same time as Simmon’s aster was very late in blooming this year.   Along Rock Landing Road in Tate’s Hell, they were not deterred by the freeze and were blooming — hedgelike rows of them.

No bees on them, which one would normally see, but in the grasses below — sheet spider webs.   

Spider webs were everywhere:  the customary orb shaped, the balled up confusion-shaped on branches of trees and these every-which-away sheet nests on the ground catch dew which, even in the light of a cloudy sky, calls attention to them.

Even on a overcast, drizzly day, the forest gives back visually.

Holiday season on Womack Creek, Tate’s Hell

 

 

Womack Creek, a tributary of the Ochlockonee River, on the west side of Tate’s Hell State Forest, has only native plants and trees.  There are three varieties of native hollies on that creek: Yaupon, Dahoon and American holly.  The American holly is what is what folks usually associate with holly, with its prickly scalloped leaves (above).

As in most natural habitats (as compared to managed landscapes) every year is a mix of blooms and seeds.  Some years the white flowers of one or the other holly is more pronounced.  But that doesn’t guarantee that that particular species will have more red berries  — between March to December anything can happen.

This year there were more red berries on the American holly than we have ever seen since 2012. 

Usually, the dahoon holly is the dominant and heavy bearers on the creek.  The bushes are not as full of berries as in previous years.

Yaupon holly, part of the pharmocopeia of native Americans, with its smaller leaves, tiny flowers and smaller berries, is less showy.

To the careful observer,  the red berries of the parsley haw tree can be seen.  That tree is increasing in numbers as the hornbeam trees are losing their grip on the land and landing in the water.

 

Swamp rose blooms were sparse this year, but a few matured to add reds to the creek’s palate of colors.

 

 

 

 

Ever season has its dominant colors; every year that mix changes.