American Locations 35 – Okefenokee 3

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

 

Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia

 

The next day we rented a kayak to venture out into the swamp on our own. There was a group of college students camping there who kayaked out at the break of day and didn’t return until late in the afternoon. They did this day after day while we were there, and returned every day uneaten by alligators. So it had to be safe. The ranger told us as long as we didn’t bash an alligator over the head with an oar they would leave us alone. So off we went.

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We could set our own pace and go our own route. The current on the Suwannee River was slight and no problem to paddle. We stayed in the main channel, which was clearly marked. Still, being this close to the water in a small kayak was unnerving at first. And we did see alligators.

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This was black water, which meant once an alligator went under we could not see him and had no idea where he was. But they didn’t bother us and, believe me, we didn’t bother them. This next photo gives you an idea of how black the water was. There are near-perfect reflections.

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This photo caught the end of the kayak, to give an impression that we were right on top of the water, which meant we were right on top of the alligators.

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And there were plenty of alligators. These weren’t the same we saw from the pontoon boat since we went a different direction on the river so to see a different part of the swamp.

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Once we saw an alligator start swimming from one side of the river to the other directly in front of us. Needless to say I stopped paddling, and we waited for him to reach the other side. We went several miles, until we came to a place where the river narrowed. It was just too tight for my comfort, we would have been too close to the banks (and any alligators that might have been on them). So we went up one side channel, but it soon came to a dead end.

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So I paddled back to the river, then back to the canal that led to the campground dock. As with other places, the entrance to it was well-marked. An exhilarating day.

Another day I hiked through a drier section of the swamp.

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One night a ranger set up a telescope. The park was remote enough to be part of the Dark Skies project, and on a clear night we got a good show. After four days we were ready to press on.

 

Next Location – Anastasia State Park, Florida

 

 

 

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