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.
Dr. Todd Engstrom seeks a path around the many sloughs in our way. On Day 3 of the Apalachicola River Walk, he was taking us to patches of old growth forest where the extinct ivory billed woodpecker might have made a habitat. While north Florida looks largely “untouched,” much of it has been cut for timber at some point in the last couple of hundred years. There are trees that escaped this fate. They are hundreds of years old and not altogether common.
I fell in love with the idea the first time I heard of it, this walk along the land surrounding the Apalachicola River. I was standing on a sandbar just north of Alum Bluff. After a day of kayaking the river, we set up camp and got to socializing. Doug Alderson told me of this thought of his, a hike taking about seven days, from the top of the river to the bottom. You can see how the river changes as you paddle, from tall bluffs in the north on down to the marshy delta. We would be in those systems as opposed to passing by them on the water.
Video: Kayaking in, and hiking around, the Apalachicola River.
Last year’s RiverTrek kicked off a year where we made the Apalachicola River and Bay a focus of the In the Grass, On the Reef (IGOR) project. As with this year’s video, last year’s was a two-parter. Watch Part 1, Days 1 and 2, here. Watch Part 2, Days 3 through 5, here. In Part 2, we looked at how low river flows last year precipitated the crash of the Apalachicola Bay oyster fishery. Shortly after, IGOR team member Dr. David Kimbro began investigating the oyster stocks more closely. You can follow that research here.
This video focuses on a 5-day kayak and canoe adventure down Florida’s longest river. RiverTrek is a fundraiser for the Apalachicola Riverkeeper. Riverkeeper staff and volunteers have been an immense help in producing our Apalachicola videos and in getting them seen. Thank you to Dan, Shannon, Tom, Georgia, Doug, and everyone else for allowing us to be part of the adventure.
Rob Diaz de VillegasWFSU-TV
Getting back on the Apalachicola River for RiverTrek 2013, we’ve come full circle. On RiverTrek 2012, we journeyed down the entirety of the Apalachicola River, and explored some of the area around it. We climbed the tallest river bluff in Florida, Alum Bluff. In a wild corner of Torreya State Park, we followed Means Creek into a small ravine and ultimately into a cave. We camped on sand bars, many of which were augmented by river sediments dredged by the Army Corps of Engineers, and climbed the largest sand spoil of them all- Sand Mountain. When the trip was over, our collaborator, Dr. David Kimbro, started his research into the cause of the Apalachicola Bay oyster fishery collapse. Within a few months, we traveled from the top of Alum Bluff to the bottom of Apalachicola Bay, all in an attempt to better understand this large and complex river and bay system. Continue reading →