Sunday, October 08, 2006
Trip into the Okefenokee Swamp
Day 1 -- Sunday, October 22, 2006
Well, here I am. Three days in the Okefenokee Swamp!
I arrived late last night. So far, so good.
I'm staying at an outfitter called Okefenokee Pastimes (www.okefenokee.com). They are directly across the street from the entrance to the National Wildlife Reserve (7 miles from the town of Folkston, GA).
I'm in one of their "basic" cabins, but let me tell you, this cabin is a lot nicer than the word "basic" will lead you to believe. For that matter, their whole operation is nicer than I expected. For starters, the cabins are spotless. They are only 8 years old, are completely sealed from the elements (including critters) and are kept cleaner than most hotels I've stayed in. They have air/heat, fans, swing out windows with screens, radios, electricity (including outlets for your personal electronics -- ie: cel phones), coffee makers, screened-in front porches, and picnic tables.
The showers/bathrooms are in a separate building, but that area is just as clean as the cabins. And they have hot water!
Steve and Jo, the proprietors and guides, are two of the friendliest folks you'll meet. Steve took me on my first tour of the swamp this morning (we put in the boat just before sunrise). He is as knowledgeable as he is capable and knows every stump in this area of the swamp.
Since the Okefenokee Swamp is as diverse as it is huge, I decided to familiarize myself a little by going out on my own yesterday, following a designated walking trail that led out to an observation tower overlooking the Swamp. From the tower, I watched the sun go down over the cypress stands, reflecting off the water that seeped up between the scattered peat bogs, and filtering through the Spanish Moss hanging from the trees. It was a bit of a rush to get all the shots I wanted because the sun was sinking so fast, but It was a beautiful sight.
** speaking of which... I shoot film for my artwork, so I don't have instant images to share. We'll both have to wait until I get home and process and scan all my film before we can see what wonderful images I was fortunate enough to capture.**
Day 2 - Monday, October 23, 2006
This morning, Steve and I began with the simple approach of following the water "trail" at the entrance to the wildlife preserve into the "prairies" -- wide open wetlands with lots of small scrub, peat bogs, and a few scattered stands of cypress and pine. If you're a birder, this would be a wonderland for you. We saw so many different kinds of egret, heron, hawk, etc. that I couldn't keep track of them all.
Once we passed through the prairies, we circled around to a more wooded area where the canals were overhung with cypress canopy and spanish moss. There was a light film of pollen on the water that, when the sun shone through the trees, helped create the illusion of a waterway thick with algae.
Once the sun got high enough to warm the banks of the canals, the gators began to come out. Although we got glimpses of them occasionally along the way, we didn't see much more than a snout and eyes. But when the sun came out, they were everywhere. They are gorgeous creatures... and almost everywhere the sun shone on the banks, a big gator was there to sun his hide. They looked so lazy and comfortable, just like a cat stretched out on a window sill (but just a tad more deadly.)
Tomorrow we go out to a different location on the St. Mary's River (an integral part of the swamp) to look for some different swamp scenery as the sun goes down.
Wednesday I leave the Okefenokee and head out to Cumberland Island where I will camp in a tent with hardly a soul around for 3 days. I won't have access to any computers, so my next posting will likely be when I get down to Ameila Island/Fernandina Beach on the 27th.
Thanks for following along. I'll have pictures up as soon as I can.
Also, please check out my friends, Steve and Jo, at Okefenokee Pastimes (www.okefenokee.com) and my friend, Sandra, at Barwick Studio in Fernandina Beach (www.barwickstudio.com).
© Holt Webb Photography