Flooded Swamp Postpones Big Tree Walk: Pictures taken on March 25, 2000

On March 25, 2000, the Big Tree Walk was cancelled due to flooding in the Congaree Swamp. However, Carol and Laura Kososki decided to check out just how bad it really was that day. The following pictures were taken from their excursion on March 25, 2000. (Click on the pictures for a larger image.)

Flooded Swamp

Trail sign: Sign for two loop trails is submerged in swamp water after much rain during the week of March 20. Both loop trails are inaccessible by foot, as water would be more than waist high!
Lower Boardwalk: Path leads directly into flooded swamp. Under normal conditions, this loop trail allows walking through the swamp at close to ground level. However, high waters keeps this path off limits to visitors.
Upper Boardwalk: On Saturday, March 25, this was the only trail open to visitors. As you can see, the flooding didn't get quite THAT high!

Swamp Trees

Tip-Ups: These mounds of dirt are caused when a tree is blown over and it's root system, often quite large, causes the surrounding earth to break away forming a mound of dirt. Since these mounds of dirt are quite a few feet above the surrounding area they can support plant life which would not normally grow in the wetter terrain. This diverse plant life is usually brought in by mammals and birds, and it's habitat within the swamp is isolated to the mounds. The mounds are also home to a variety of animal life including mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Old maps used during first exploration of the swamp often indicate the location of "Indian mounds" throughout the area. It is now speculated that these "Indian mounds" were probably the remnants of old tip-ups.
Standing Dead Tree: Not all trees that die fall to the ground and decay. Many of them remain standing and begin to die from the top down. These standing dead trees are vital to a healthy habitat in the swamp. As the tree dies, insects attack the bark and wood fibers. Birds, such as the many species of woodpecker found in the swamp, come to eat the insects. Woodpeckers also excavate holes in the dead trees to use for nesting sites. Once a woodpecker family has vacated one of these holes, other cavity nesting birds take them over. And so the cycle continues until eventually the tree falls and a new process of decay and habitat development begins.

Swamp Creatures

A yellow rat snake slithers leisurely on the upper boardwalk near Weston Lake. It measures about 4.5 feet in length. The yellow rat snake, Elaphe obsoleta quadrivittata, is a characteristic snake of the great river swamps of the southern United States and is often found foraging high in cypress and other trees. Although its dark stripes are always strongly defined, its ground color is subject to considerable variation. It ranges from North Carolina to Florida, with the darker species being found in a more northern range and a brighter yellow variety inhabiting a more southern region.
A skink suns itself on a cypress tree, safely out of reach of high waters.

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Last modified: May 11, 2008 by Edward Kujawski (focs@mindspring.com)
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