In a steephead ravine, we enter a landscape as Appalachian as it is Floridian- perhaps a glimpse at the Apalachicola River of the ice ages. In part 3 of our salamander adventure, Bruce Means climbs down in search of the Apalachicola dusky, an animal he discovered here over 50 years ago.
“We’re standing at one of the places I most love in this world,” Bruce Means tells the camera. “There’s a big surprise right behind me.”
Dr. Means stands in an open field, a row of oak trees a short distance away. When we get to the tree line, we look down. Up here, all we see are the tops of trees and a slope that descends into shadows. At the bottoms of those trees, however, lies the promise of rare plants and animals, a few of which aren’t found anywhere but the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines region. This is a steephead ravine. Continue reading →
MegaThis week’s musical guest on Local Routes is Taller Trees, who perform their song Old As Earth. That’s kind of the theme of this video as well. In it, we look at rocks and fossils with geologist Harley Means. He shows us what the old earth around the Apalachicola River tells us about its ancient past.
Music in this video was provided by Chris Matechik. You can catch his band, The Flatheads, playing in and around Apalachicola. The RiverTrek kayak trip featured in this story is a fundraiser for Apalachicola Riverkeeper.
Alum Bluff was once Apalachicola Bay. Currently, it towers above the Apalachicola River, 84 miles from the coast. Florida’s largest geologic outcropping is a peek under the skin of the earth, eroded into view by the river. Here, we can see millions of years of shifting shorelines and animals long gone. And by we, I mean geologist Harley Means. He sees these things, and he was nice enough to interpret them for us on RiverTrek 2016.
Video: Kayak adventure in the upper Apalachicola, where we find Florida’s tallest river bluffs face a decades old man made threat. Also, higher water lets us deeper into Sutton Lake, a back woods swamp where the oldest and largest tupelo and cypress trees of the Apalachicola basin are found.
Alex Reed inspects rubble from the Alum Bluff landslide.
It’s amazing to see how much can change in one year on the Apalachicola River. I’ve previously mentioned the smaller sand bars and higher water. But the most striking visual difference is in the face of Alum Bluff, probably the iconic image of the upper river. In part 1 of this adventure, we approached it from land to be rewarded with possibly the best view of the river and the forest around it. In part 2, we kayak up to it. Last year, we camped there and had activities in the evening and following morning that kept me from just being able to hang out and enjoy the bluff from my boat. As I did so this year, Alex Reed, our co-captain as well as a geologist, was inspecting the rubble from a landslide that occurred earlier in the year. Some of the rocks unearthed were millions of years old. Continue reading →