Saturday, August 29, 2015

Return visit to Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

Tina and Andy

We hiked through Lake Proctor Wilderness Area last year in early May (see “Hiking Lake Proctor”), and had a great time.  The only downside at the time is that the eastern portion of the area was all cleared and chopped up in preparation for a controlled burn. This year we wanted to come back and visit just to see how well the landscape recovers after the first year after a burn – it’s actually pretty amazing how quickly everything grows back.

Beginning of trail at Lake ProctorWe started our hike by taking the white loop, which leads to the Eastbrook Wetlands.  This area include a couple of small ponds on the south end of Lake Proctor.  This portion of the trail is shaded by oaks and pine trees, and the trail along the way is covered with pine needles, making for a very easy hike. 

Bench by pond 2On the southern end of a small pond is the first landmark; a small bench that almost provides a nice place to view the pond and the birds that live there.  The plants between the bench and the pond have grown a bit since the bench was put in, so it is a little low for enjoying the view while sitting.  The location is really nice though – set back just far enough for watching the wildlife without them being able to see us.Andy overlooking small pond

The white loop trail meanders from the south end of this pond up along the shore before opening up to another pond just to the east.  The second pond is surrounded by grassy wetlands before the water’s edge. 

Eastbrook wetlands plaqueThe trail continues around this pond to the next landmark along the trail – a dedication sign showing the wetlands are named for the 1996 second grade class of Eastbrook Elementary School. 

Young pinesPast dedication sign, the white loop joins back with the main red-loop trail and leads to the southern end of lake proctor.  Here there are many young pines growing along the wetland area, mostly hiding the view of the lake to the north.

View of Lake ProctorAs the trail heads further north along the lake, the view opens up to a bright blue sky reflecting off the water’s surface, and birds riding the thermals over the water.  On the north side of the lake, we noticed several structures that looked like they were either bird houses or bat houses (or maybe just flying-critter condos).Water Lillies

On the water’s surface the water lilies are in full bloom, so we had to get a photo of those before continuing the trail to the north.

Andy at shelterWe continued along to the next landmark along the trail – a shelter made as an Eagle Scout project along the trail.  This was a good spot to stop and take a little break along the way just to sit in the shade and enjoy the breeze coming from the east. Spurred butterfly pea

Heading east from this shelter, the trail leads to a Sand Pine Scrub area with flowering plants just starting to come into bloom for the fall. One flower in particular, the Spurred Butterfly Pea, is really interesting.  It has a broad colored petal with two lobes on the bottom, and a single petal over the top that a bug must crawl under to get to the nectar.  The top portion is pressed pretty tightly against the lower portion to scrape pollen from the bug as it enters/exits the flower.

This portion of the trail eventually turns to the south and then to the east where it enters the scrub plane.  There is another shelter, at the beginning of the scrub plane where we stopped for lunch (that’s the picture at the beginning of this post).  This scrub plane is where we saw the preparation for the burn last year.  If you look at this photo, you will see just how thoroughly everything was chopped and tilled up.  Today, though, the area has completely recovered.

  Scrub Field-pano

Start of yellow loop at LP WAYellow loop flooded 2This portion of the trail eventually leads to the yellow loop trail which crosses the woods and then heads south along the eastern boarder of the wilderness area.  We were greeted at the loop entrance with a river of fine grass, but a little further along the loop trail is pretty well flooded today, so we skipped it for this trip.

We continued along the red trail for the rest of our journey, passing through the rest of the scrub plain and eventually back to the pine and oak forest where we started.  When I posted the description of this hike last year, I ended it with a picture of a huge live oak that was covered in resurrection ferns.  It seems only fitting that, since this trip was mostly about revisiting a previous trip, that I end this post with a photo of the same tree…

Oak with resurrection ferns-pano

Below the photo dump, you can see a map of the hike that we took.  Click on the “Trip details” link at the bottom if you would like to download a gpx file, see where the pictures were taken, or to view any of the technical details of this hike.

Photo Dump

Lake Proctor Parking LP Information Kiosk Golden Orb Weaver 1
Golden Orb Weaver 5Trail through pines Bench by pond Small pond by Lake Proctor
Andy by small pond Water lillies on pond Water lillies on pond 2
Grassy field by pond Second Pond by Lake Proctor Grass by pond
Blue sky over pond 2 LP TrailviewRoad by power lines 2 Bird or bat houses across lake
House across Lake Proctor North view of Lake Proctor Bird or bat houses across lake
Eagle scout dedication plaque Trail south through scrub Trail south through pines
Tina passing trail marker View of scrub plain LP Trail view
LP Trail view 2 Vine tendril Bug after nectarYellow loop flooded 2
Andy sitting on tree Tina at shelter Gopher tortoise at LP WA
Gopher tortoise at LP WA 2 Andy by shelter Scrub plants and palmettos
Evidence of last year's burn Growth after burn Burn area right - cleared area to left
Trail through the scrub Crossing power linesAndy on trail - LP WA Live oak with resurrection ferns 2

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