Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Advanced Summer Camp - Day 2

The second day of advanced camp involved swamp stomping off the boardwalk after learning to use Global Positioning System (GPS) devices.  Campers ran a short navigation course around the parking lot at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest hone their GPS-navigation skills.  After discovering the final cache full of swamp-related prizes, campers were prepared for long-range (500-800 meter) navigation legs through the swamp.

The first target was north of the nature center across the power line that runs east-west through the old-growth swamp.  The campers didn't know what was at the final destination and only one camper was responsible for the GPS navigation on any single leg.  As we approached the end of leg and the GPS beeped and showed "Arriving at Destination," the subject of the hike, the large Bald Cypress tree shown at the beginning of the Bodacious Beidler Kneeknocker video, was obvious.  The humidity has returned to the Lowcountry, so the cool, AC-like air flowing out of the opening at the base of the huge, hollow tree was refreshing!

The next camper had the leg that led southeast to the power line where the ground was noticeably wetter.  The gnawing marks on plenty of nearby trees indicated that we were entering the home range of the resident beavers.  The lodge in the middle of the power line right-of-way was surrounded by standing water and a thick barrier of cattails as a result of the dam across the creek channel.

After a quick stop for lunch at the center, we headed out to the final GPS-navigation destination.  The final leg was mainly on the boardwalk and over 800 meters from the center.  The only snake we saw all day was a young Eastern Cottonmouth below the boardwalk.  Within 30 meters of the destination, we departed from the boardwalk and found a pile of trash behind a large tree.  On closer inspection, the pile of trash wasn't random, but the copper sheeting, steel drums, and glass jugs were remnants from an illicit moonshining enterprise.

Images by Mark Musselman

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