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An Exploration of our Wild Ozark Bluff

Yesterday we took the day off from our usual daily work and hiked around Ozark bluff that follows our driveway. Every time we travel to and from the house, we look at it and comment that we’d like to get out there and explore a bit sometime.

Exploring the Driveway Ozark Bluff

This one isn’t that far off the driveway and not much of a climb to reach it, even. We’re just always too busy on our way to or from doing something else. In the winter, great icicles cling and span for sometimes many feet as the water dripping from a spring freezes on its journey groundward.

This day was not too cold, though, and yet not so warm that the snakes would be active. No ticks, either. Perfect weather for a little walkabout at the bluff!

 

Looking for critters in our Wild Ozark bluff
Rob looking for critters.

Signs of Life

I like looking at all the signs of life and trying to figure out who and what lives and travels where. There’s a whole story of life here, a hidden society of wood rats, chipmunks, bobcats, foxes and skunks. Probably others, too.

A critter hole, entrance to a home for some small animal.
A critter hole, entrance to a home for some small animal.

Signs of life are everywhere, though we didn’t see any of the residents. I wondered if they hid just out of sight, watching us and wondering what we were doing in their world.

A well-worn path.
There’s a well-worn path between the two trees, to the right of the left tree.
Droppings from an out of sight Ozark bluff critter. Maybe chipmunk.
Droppings from an out of sight Ozark bluff critter. Maybe chipmunk.

 

A nest of sticks and twigs. Probably a big wood rat, lol.
A nest of sticks and twigs. Probably a big wood rat, lol.

 

Dirt Dauber mud homes, still occupied. Did you know these insects collect mostly spiders to feed their young?
Dirt Dauber mud homes, still occupied. Did you know these insects collect mostly spiders to feed their young?

Not all of the life forms were animals. A few plants are still green, or at least *living* at this time of year, too.

Bronzed by the frost, but still thriving.
Bronzed by the frost, but still thriving.

 

Another not quite green but still alive. This is either rattlesnake or grape fern. I can never tell the difference until they “bloom”.

We have both northern and southern maidenhair fern here at Wild Ozark, but they grow in two different locations. I find the southern all over the shady rocky bluff and the northern in the more moist and shady habitats where the ginseng likes to grow.

I find these ferns often in the Ozark bluffs. Adiantum capillaris-veneris L., Southern maidenhair fern. Trying to poke itself out into the light from underneath some rock layers.
Adiantum capillaris-veneris L., Southern maidenhair fern. Trying to poke itself out into the light from underneath some rock layers.

Signs of Past Life

And then there were signs of things that once lived or moved on to different phases in life.

A vacant dirt dauber nest.
Not too recently departed snail.
Not too recently departed snail.
A find on our exploration of the bluffs. An empty cliff swift nest made from mud and bits of hornet's nests.
An empty cliff swift nest made from mud and bits of hornet’s nests.

 

A tree that once lived here.
A tree that once lived here.

Textures and Layers

My favorite thing to notice and photograph out here is the texture. There are so many layers and shapes in the Ozark bluff. Rocks layered on top of shale, all of it made from sediment many thousands of years ago. The Ozarks aren’t really “mountains”. They’re ocean bottom. Dissected plateaus from the bottom of an ocean that existed even before the dinosaurs.

Odd Bumps and Formations

Wavy bumps
Wavy bumps

 

Bumpy ceiling bumps.
Bumpy ceiling bumps.

 

Weird iron oxide bumps.
Weird iron oxide bumps.

Hiking Partner

Bobbie Sue is over 10 years old now, but she still likes to join us on our hikes.
Bobbie Sue is over 10 years old now, but she still likes to join us on our Ozark bluff hikes.

 

Happy New Year

May 2017 be all you hope for. After we finished with the hike, we got all gussied up in our swashbuckler costumes and took some cool photos. Here’s my favorite. How did you spend New Year’s Eve and what’s on the list for 2017?

the Wild Ozark duo, having fun.
the Wild Ozark duo, having fun.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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[…] too long ago I posted about our exploration of the bluffs along the driveway. This time we went hiking to what I call the “Corner […]

sustainabilitea
Guest

Loved coming along on the walk with you two, Madison. We didn’t do much for New Year’s Eve and that was fine. We had a good Christmas with our two daughters and one of my s-i-l’s. What’s on the list for 2017? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. The… Read more »

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