Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Salvage Day

On one of our days toward the end of the trip we decided to drive a great distance to see a large spring we'd never visited. It was over 160 miles from the park, but we decided to make the drive because we don't know when we'd be even that close to it for at least a couple of more years. It's called Morrison Spring and was purchased by the State of Florida and then gifted to the local county where it's located. One nice thing about it is that it's free to visit and use.

However, when we arrived we found that it had "gone dark". This happens when heavy rains allow the nearby river to rise above its banks and the tannin-filled water overwhelms the spring, making it as dark as the river. We'd made the long drive for nothing!

So we drove to another nearby spring only to find that it, too, had been blotted out by the river.

After that, we just drove back toward Ochlockonee River State Park and on the way we turned off the main road to see the Leon Sinks Geological Area. This was interesting and entertaining. Classic karst geological formations wherein the limestone caprock collapses into the systems of caves and aquifers to form circular lakes and dry pits. Leon Sinks is quite extensive and is home to several miles of walking trails and informational signs, kiosks, overlooks, and boardwalks.

The trip to Leon Sinks salvaged what would otherwise have been a truly disappointing day.

A former "wet" sink that's now a cave opening.

Tupelo gums in one of the swamps at the Leon Sinks.

This was a nice area with lots of exposed limestone illustrating what goes on with the local geology.

One of the medium-sized sinks on the trail.

This limestone formation was at the top of the steep cliff face plunging down to a large sink. Because of the heavy vegetation I couldn't see into the sink itself, even when I used the pillar of limestone as a vantage point.

Dismal Sink, the largest of the bunch.

Dismal Sink, the largest one in the area. Once people went there to swim, but these days swimming is not allowed. The trail down the 100-foot walls is now closed off.

Formerly common across Florida, the state is trying to restore the Longleaf pine ecosystems that were almost eradicated. Here there was a grove of them regenerating.

This was Hammock Sink. Another of the larger ones and which was a popular swimming hole back in the day. The water here was pretty clear and I can see where it would be an attractive place to go swimming and snorkeling.



Hammock Sink, the most attractive of the lot.

4 comments:

Kirk Greenfield said...

Any fear of meeting an alligator in one of those sinks?

James Robert Smith said...

Well, they don't allow swimming in those sinks anymore. But, yeah, swimming in Florida sinks, springs, lakes, streams, and rivers always carries a risk of alligator encounters. I don't go swimming where I see alligators or sign of them.

Aaron Bittner said...

Interesting note on the Longleaf pine restoration effort. When DeSoto came through Florida, Longleaf pine savannah was the dominant ecosystem for vast areas. We have some of it in eastern NC.

James Robert Smith said...

It was once all over the southeastern low country, pretty much dominating in many areas. The ecosystems that it supported largely vanished after clear cutting and European agricultural expansion. They're now trying to restore as much of it as possible. I suspect that pieces of the vanished system are forever gone, missing bits of which we will ever remain ignorant...because we never knew it was present to start.