Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cedar Sink, Mammoth Cave, KY

At the southernmost part of Mammoth Cave Park is this short trail,
 which takes you down into a very large sinkhole, Cedar Sink,
and back, giving you a chance to observe many kinds of trees, 
wildflowers, animals, and fungi, as well as some very 
interesting geological features.

I like to take the loop in a clockwise direction, going down
the west staircase into the sink and going out the south staircase.

Right click the link, below, to listen to music while you take
this virtual walk through Cedar Sink!

Today, I am in search of a specific wild orchid, the 
Cranefly Orchid.  I saw a couple of leaves in the Spring and 
am hoping they are flowering, now.

(Click any photo to enlarge it)

Tick Trefoil

The very distinctive leaf of Agrimony.

Click here for information on Agrimony.

One of the first things you should learn is how to identify
Poison Ivy.  Which one, below, is a photo of Poison Ivy:
the one on the left or the one on the right?
(the answer is in the caption of the next photo)

There are many Cedar patches, like this one,
on this trail, thus the name Cedar Sink.

(the photo on the right is Poison Ivy..."leaflets three, let it be";  
the left one is Virginia Creeper, which won't give you a rash.)

A butterfly called a Question Mark.
Can you see the question mark pattern (sideways) on the hindwing, below?

Descending down to the sink area.
Take your time and observe your surroundings.

You will see Christmas Ferns in every forest 
that you visit in KY. The ends of the fronds 
produce sori on the bottom of their leaflets.

Each sorus (sporecase) is filled with
spores, which will be released to begin
a new generation of ferns.

Here's the beginning of the loop trail, where you can go either
left or right.  You will end up back at this point;  I like to go
left in a clockwise direction.  

A species of St. Johnswort

Starry Campion  3/4 inch
Click here for information.

Tall Bellflower

The trail takes you to the west staircase, which takes you deep
into the geologic depression called Cedar Sink, a massive
sinkhole, which actually has several sinkholes within it. 

To the right of the staircase were Walking Ferns.
Click here for information.

At the bottom of the stairs take a left and walk down the short trail
to this observation deck and just stop, look, and listen.
A Tussock Moth caterpillar was strolling on
the observation deck.  They're harmless..pick one up.
Click here to see how a Tussock Moth caterpillar gets around. 

The floor of Cedar Sink was covered in Spiderworts.
Click here for info.

Then, turn around and head back to the bottom of the staircase.

White Avens
Click any photo to enlarge it.

A couple of Red Spotted Purples 
sipping water from some organic waste.
Click here for a video of Red Spotted Purples.

White Tick Trefoil

Go to the observation deck and observe the
stream below.  This is an exposed part of an
underground stream.  The running water comes
out of the ground (top part of photo) and returns below
the ground
(bottom right).

Most people don't realize there are many rivers underground,
flowing through cave systems, such as the one in this area.

The trail is clogged with vegetation.

Click here for information.

Pale-spiked Lobelia
Click here for information.

This trail leads to an area where you can see the spring,
the point where the stream comes out of the rocks.

Ruellia  or  Wild Petunia

The spring is to the left, hidden by vegetation.

Continue on the trail and you will come to the south end of
Cedar Sink.  After you have observed your surroundings you
can head up the stairs, the south staircase, which takes you to
another observation deck.

Turn left where the stairs split to go to the observation deck.

Pale Indian Plantain
Click here for information.

Looks like a species of Lactarius.

Thimbleweed with pollinator.

From here you can see down into another sinkhole.

A colorful Red Admiral.
Click here for information.
Video of Red Admirals!

The top of the south staircase looking down into Cedar Sink.

Heading back to the trailhead.

Wow!  This is the flower I was looking for!
It's leaf lies on the ground through Autumn and Winter and decomposes through Spring.  The flower will grow where the
leaf was.  Click "here," below for information.
Cranefly Orchid!!
Click here for information.
Close-up of Cranefly Orchid.
Click here to watch a video.

Turn left at this intersection.
This is the beginning of the loop trail, where you were earlier.

A plant called Heal All with some beautiful little flowers.
Click here to watch a great video about Heal All.

It was great to be able to see the flowers of the Cranefly Orchid,
 whose leaves I saw in the Spring.

Come here any time of the year.  It's a great place to explore!

To see Cedar Sink in the Spring click here.  

Get out and see your natural surroundings, which will help
you to appreciate what's around you.