October 10, 2015 – Big Shoals State Park, White Springs, Florida

We got our exercise on the banks of the Suwanee River today.  And, yes, I did sing as I walked along. But, Stephen Foster is celebrated in the nearby Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. Big Shoals is a surprise section of the river, where it drops nine feet in less that a quarter mile, creating Class 3 rapids.  That is amazing for Florida. The park is located in a state forest so it is very isolated and quiet.

The two-and-a-half-mile round trip is along the river, but we didn’t always see it through the vegetation.  After spending time out in the southwest, the profusion of vegetation was almost overwhelming.  We loved it. We are back in Live Oak and Spanish Moss country.

There is a bat house at the beginning of the trail to the Big Shoals. Unfortunately, we did not stay till dusk to see them flying out.

b Bat House

b Andy Walking Under Bent Tree

I saw another patch of the mysterious white stuff on the ground and remembered that I had looked it up, but not posted the answer.  Frank Wilmer also commented “lichen?” which is the right answer.  It is called Reindeer Moss, but is not a moss. My camera lens was a bit foggy.

b Reindeer Moss (Lichen)

I was explaining lichens to Andy. Lichens are not plants or animals, as far as I can figure. They are made of two things:  (then I forgot what the two things are and ended my lecture). Wikipedia to the rescue. Lichen From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Fascinating.

“A lichen is a composite organism that arises from algae or cyanobacteria (or both) living among filaments of a fungus in a symbiotic relationship. The combined life form has properties that are very different from the properties of its component organisms.”

Here is another close up.  I snatched this image from the web. These today were softer than the ones at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.

b Lichen - Reindeer Moss

The Suwanee is a black river, turned dark by the tannin in the surrounding trees.

b Suwannee River

We stopped to look at the river next to a large pine tree. The individual plates were huge. I didn’t know that “plates” is the term; I looked it up with Google. As in most places where humans have harvested trees, there are not many large ones in the forest here.

b Andy nex to Big Pine Tree

This was the view of the river at that spot.

b Calm Water Suwanee River

We did not see much wildlife, but I did get a picture of a lizard.

b Lizard

I suppose, other that the rapids, the theme of today’s walk was fungus. I have never seen so many types and colors along a mile and a quarter trail.

b Brown Mushrooms

b Creamy Mushrooms

b Green Mushroom

b Orange Mushroom

There were more pink than anything else.

b Pink Mushroom

I don’t think we’ve ever seen a purple mushroom before.

b Purple Mushroom

b Red Mushroom

b Yellow Mushroom

Of course, there were also white ones.
b White Mushroom

We saw something like this growing on the Flame Azaleas at  Max Patch, but this one is pink.

b Pint Growth on Bush

The forest floor also had patches of bright green moss.

b Moss on Ground

The most common and abundant plant is the Saw Palmetto.

b Saw Palmetto

b Plants

We spotted a swamp behind these.

b Swamp

We could hear the rapids well before we got to them.  I could not get a clear picture due to all the plants.  I obeyed the sign asking us not to climb down the bank.  Others have not and got better pictures.

b Big Shoal

I also obeyed this sign.  They don’t have to tell me twice.

b Alligator Sign

Here is a closer look at the brown water.

b Brown Water

When we walked back out, Andy noted, “This was a good place to walk.  It was fun guy”.


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