I'm a volunteer Land Steward for the Bruce Trail Conservancy, which means that I'm responsible for keeping an eye on a particular property that the trail goes through. I don't do trail maintenance; that's the job of the Trail Captain. But I keep an eye on other things like boundaries, garbage, rare species, and invasive species and so on. So last week I spent two days out in the bush documenting what I saw this year.
It's a nice section of trail, through a good deal of hardwood forest on this property, as well as some scrubby old apple trees and such. Not many leaves left on trees now - it is
There were mushrooms on a number of trees and stumps.
And lots of fallen logs or stumps covered in green moss of various sorts.
But what interests me the most is the sinkholes. These are dry sinkholes, though there may be a little surface runoff in the spring. The entire depression you see here is perhaps 60-70 feet wide, and 20 feet deep (and slowly getting deeper). Not very bright pictures, but in fact it's the best time of year to see the sinkholes, because the leaves are all gone.
At the bottom of that depression is an actual hole in the ground, where soil continuously drops down into a cavern or crack in the limestone below. There is presumably an underground drainage channel that is carrying a stream of water beneath this sinkhole, taking that soil away. There is no way of knowing where it's a large cavern that you could fall into, or whether it's just a narrow crack in the rock.
And here's another much smaller sinkhole, just an abrupt depression 3 feet deep and 8 feet across at another location in the property. I amuse myself by wondering where these underground streams come from and go to.
Well, you can see where one of the streams goes to. Just across the road, but below the cliff, a tiny stream emerges directly out of the rock, flowing from the direction of that big sinkhole.
This is Jordan Springs, another Bruce Trail property. Based on my visits, I'd say that this stream flows steadily all year round without much change. So on the surface there's not much water on this property, but underneath, there's a mysterious network of underground channels.
Right beside this spring I found one of the most unusual fungi or lichens that I've ever seen - a black rubbery mat on the moss, with short black spikes standing up, capped with tiny reddish-brown 'hats'. I've simply no idea what it is - any suggestions?
We've had a wonderful warmish sunny day, and we're in for three more days of it according to the forecast - unheard of for the first week of November! So I used it to finish up cleaning the yard and packing up the shed for the winter. Some years we've had snow this week that stayed til March! It's a true Indian Summer, so I may get some more useful outdoor work done before the end of the week. It's also deer hunting week, so the guns are going off in the distance. But I know the hunters would much rather have cooler temperatures than this for hunting. In the meantime I'll stay out of the woods, and wear my hunting hat this week!
Those sinkholes are interesting and a little scary, given that they might just keep on dropping their level. And that is a very strange looking fungus, for sure! No idea what it is. Spooky in any event. :-)ReplyDelete
Those sinkholes do look a little scary, but very interesting.ReplyDelete
Sinkholes ate a lane in a new road a few years back. Missouri has tons of sinkholes, too. Cannot help with the fungus. There is on variety named stinkhorns that looks similar.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you are keeping your eye on this portion of the trail.. Are those sinkholes dangerous to hikers? Maybe some sort of warning should be placed near them. The fungus is very unusual--I tried to look it up online but could not find another photo that looked like it. Maybe you can send a photo to a local university for their science department to identify it.ReplyDelete
I would do a lot of 'wondering' about those sinkholes & what lies beneath them as well. I find that kind of stuff interesting. I like that Stewardship idea because it gives a fella a purpose to get himself out into the woods and take a few photos along the way:))ReplyDelete
That IS an interesting looking fungi. I'm sure the hat is a good call; even I know you don't get too many deer with bright orange heads. We live close to a limestone area - it is a little unsettling to think of the network of caverns beneath your feet, and wonder when a sink hole is going to turn into something more sinister...ReplyDelete
Hello, that sounds like a nice job. Spending the time outdoors enjoying nature. I love the fungi, moss and the rock walls. The sinkholes sound scary, hopefully they are far enough off the trail. Enjoy your day!ReplyDelete
Good for you for being a land steward. We need more. Those sinkholes are scary and I assume you are more circumspect when a layer of snow is on the ground. This topography looks like West Virginia in the states....underground rivers, caves, etc.ReplyDelete
I do admire the job you do being a steward of the land in your area of the Bruce Trail. Your photos and information are always interesting. The sink holes are neat to see but must be quite dangerous if one isn't paying attention. I love the photo of the rock outcropping and the stream coming from under it. Yep. I hear gunshots around here these days too. And I saw 2 large deer in the field up the hill this morning. I hope they survive!ReplyDelete
I miss hiking along the Escarpment. I remember days spent at places like Hilton Falls and Rattlesnake Point. Beautiful shots!ReplyDelete
Karst topography certainly is interesting, always makes you wonder what's down below. Like the others who commented, I can't help you with that fungus.ReplyDelete
I've no idea either what that is. Very unusual.ReplyDelete
We've had a nice warm sunny day as well with a couple more to come.
Thank you for taking care of a section of trail! Great project! We have karst topography here in the Shenandoah Valley, with some huge caves.ReplyDelete
Interesting fungus, I hope you find out what it is called. Being a Land Steward is a great idea:)ReplyDelete
My dad is off hunting this week, so yes definitely be careful out there. I am using this lovely weather to get my yards all cleaned up and things stored for winter too. Maybe even put the Christmas lights up since my fingers won't freeze.ReplyDelete
The Bruce Trail is a gorgeous spot. What a great service you are doing for Nature and all of us in helping to keep it beautiful. thank you!