Field Trip with a Nature Class

Contrary to popular belief, nature classes do not take their clothes off and run around naked in the woods. In fact its just the opposite. We keep our clothes on and drive to where we want to go.

Saturday morning the nature class that I am a member of did a field trip. The purpose of the field trip was to see some of the native and rare plants, and to see some of the unique geological formations around the Jasper Texas area.

Wilderness hiking

At 8:00am we met in the parking lot of the Stump restaurant on hwy 255, which is just north of Jasper Texas. The places where we were going to go were old logging roads. The people that drove cars parked their vehicles at a nearby hotel, then we carpooled in the 4 wheel drive trucks and SUVs.

The first place we stopped at was on top of a pipeline. We parked our trucks on top of the hill, then walked around the rim of the hill top looking at different types of trees and plants.

After we got finished looking at the plants, we went back to the trucks, over the hill and down to a creek bottom. The cool thing about the creek bottom, it was filled with petrified wood. There were small pieces, large pieces and medium sized pieces. One of the men in the group was an amateur geologist. He talked to the class about the different types of trees that grew in southeast Texas during the last ice age – white oak, pine (conifer trees) and palm trees.

One piece of petrified wood we found must have weighed close to 300 pounds and was about 3 feet long. On the outside of the piece was petrified resin, like the resin that comes out of a pine tree. Some of the amateur geologist estimated the piece could be up to 200 million years old.

Some of the petrified wood sticking out of the ground in the creek bottom seemed to be in layers – layer of petrified wood, layer of dirt, layer of petrified wood, layer of dirt. I wondered how any tens of thousands, or even millions of years had to pass for the petrified wood to be laid down in the manner that it was. Some of the pieces were rather large in diameter, maybe 2 feet across, and that was only about 1/2 of the diameter of the original tree. It was like the original tree broke in half, and only half of the tree became petrified.

After looking around the hill top for maybe an hour, loaded up in the trucks and drove through some of the logging roads. As we were driving along, the guides would stop and show everyone some of the unique plants in the area – like the Arkansas oak tree, wild plums, chickpea tree,,, and a few other plants that I can not remember the names of.

Maxpedition Noatak

For the trip I bought along my Maxpedition Noatak, 32 ounce Maxpedition water bottle, peanut butter and honey sandwich, bag of chips, breakfast bar (for a snack), GPS, compass, rain poncho, camera,,,, and a few other things.

With temps in the upper 90s by noon, I was sucking down the water right and left.  I felt like I was sweating faster then my body could digest the water I was drinking.

In 5 hours, from 8:00am from when we started, until 1pm, I drank close to 50 ounces of water – a 32 ounce water bottle, a 16.9 ounce water bottle, and some water out of a cooler.  The thing was, the group was not walking “that” much, and we were in the shade a lot of the time.

Being out in the 100 degree heat made everyone sweat more then we could drink.  When the group arrived at a waterfall, one of the ladies got under the water to cool off.  A couple of other people took their shoes off and waded through the water to cool off.  A couple of other people used cloth rags soaked in water to cool their heads off.

Around 12 noon we stopped at a waterfall, ate lunch, and took a break from moving around.  The waterfall in the background made for a beautiful backdrop for our lunch break.

Feeling refreshed from our lunch break the group loaded up and headed to the next location, which was a waterfall.

As the group was standing around the waterfalls, I could not help but wonder how primitive man used those locations.  Were the waterfalls a place to wash clothes, meet and socialize with other people from the tribe?  Just as we ate lunch at the waterfall, did people a thousand years go do the same thing?

We ended our field trip around 1:00pm.  Overall everyone seemed to have a good time, except for the heat.  We will probably take another field trip sometime in the spring, when the weather is a little cooler.