Piney Woods Tour

-April 10th, 2013

No matter how many times we describe East Texas and the Big Thicket, the first thing many people think of when they hear “Texas” is rocky, wide open plains broken by the occasional tumbleweed. Fortunately for you I took a little East Texas excursion this past weekend, so this week’s “Campus Tour” is taking a deviation into the Big Thicket. While I didn’t have time to drive all the way to Pinebox, these photos were taken in the Big Thicket only about an hour away. Clicking on any of these photos will take you to a larger version.


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Not a tumbleweed to be seen. The Big Thicket is very green and full of life. It’s hard to say if this was a logging trail or if it served some other purpose, but it’s in remarkably good shape. When you imagine old trails cutting through the forest in Skinwalker, picture this.


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We’ve also written about how dense the Big Thicket is. Worse, when you’re trailblazing through the stuff it seems as if at least half is poison ivy. I actually took many other pictures of sections much more dense than this, but it turns out that a thick, tangled wall of vegetation makes for a boring photograph.


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I was especially fortunate to visit in the Spring after a good rain. Texas has suffered from a severe drought for the last two years, but rain swept through the state just a few days before my trip. We’re still far, far behind where we should be for rainfall so seeing running water in creeks was quite a novelty. Also, quite beautiful.


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Notice the high, steep banks. A flash flood dumping a several inches of rain overnight could turn creeks like these into death traps. It paints the term “gully washer” in a more serious light, huh?


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I saw several sets of animal tracks in the soft creek banks not far from this decaying bridge. The Big Thicket is home to poisonous snakes, bobcats, and wild boar just to name a few. Then there are the stranger, more deadly creatures rumored by locals to be in the deepest parts of the woods. They seem easy to dismiss as “just stories” until you hike into the Big Thicket yourself and the sounds of civilization fade away. Under the dark forest canopy, wrapped in stillness with nothing but the muted rustle of dead leaves and cautious birdsong, it seems not so unlikely. The forest is a big, forbidding place. Who can say what manner of creatures might be curled away under a leafy den, waiting for nightfall?

Waiting for their turn.


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