David Johnson's Travel Blog
Bicycle Trip 1999
Okefenokee 2002
07/31  Camping in the Swamp
Anza-Borrego 2003
Texas 2003
Road Trip West 2003
Sequoia National Park 2004
Hiking Florida 2005
Nomadic 2005
Bicycle Trip 2009
Bicycle Trip 2010
Nomadic 2010
Little Bicycle Trip 2011
Wisconsin Bicycle Trip 2011
Bicycle Trip 2011
Nomadic 2011
Kayak Trip 2012
Nomadic 2012
Liverworks Productions
Nomadic 2013
Liverworks Productions
Texas Pig Hunting
Bicycle Trip 2014
Bicycle Trip 2015
Biking West 2015
Chickens and Pheasants 2016
Biking About 2016
New Zealand 2016
Kayak Trip 2017

Camping in the Swamp

2002-07-31

Here's where I went (find the red cross):

If you can't tell, the camp is about 10 miles in, from either side. After leaving the sign-out station, I saw nobody the entire time I was in the swamp. People don't go back there much this time of the year. Of course, they make you sign out and in so that if you turn up missing they can come look for you -- in a day or so.

Here's what I went in:

Here's where I stayed:

There are only seven of these in the entire 500,000 acre park. This one's on land. I've read that many of the others are standing right in the water.

And here are some of the interesting pictures:

As I'm told, for every one that you see, there are ten that you don't. And I believe it, especially when you're on the move. However, when you stop, they like to swim up and watch you. It can be a little disconcerting at times, especially when they seem to take special interest in how agile you are in boarding your kayak.

It's amazing that so many large animals can live in such a small amount of space. After a while, you start thinking "yawn, another gator." Of course, they still find ways to grab your attention. We've all heard splashing while camping near water. But did you ever hear, "KARPLOOSH, SPLASH, SPLASH, splash splash splash, karplosh, swish, SPLASH SPLASH ... splish splash" right next to your tent? That'll wake you up. And then there was the time I was kayaking along pretty fast and wondering about this large swell of water I could see forming ahead of my boat. Suddenly, a huge alligator head pops up out of the water to take a look around -- about ten inches from my side. I could have reached out and patted him on the head (which would have been a bad thing, as I found out in a non-related stick experiment). Anyway, this guy bolted and was nice enough not to nail my kayak with his tail.

Speaking of bolting. Everybody has heard how fast these things are. It's all true. And half of that speed is hard-wired reflex, meaning it's pretty hard to talk them out of whatever they're getting ready to do.

Other creatures:

The swamp is really nothing but one long food chain. There are very few herbivores. Everyone is eating somebody else. No rabbits. No muskrats. (Note: NEVER forget to bring a pair of elastic-ankle windbreaker pants into the swamp. I forgot. And now I'm paying through all the various sized welts on my lower body. Dang yellow-flies.) As cool as spiders are, they get kind of old, too. Especially when running into a web is about the same as running into a chain-linked fence. The red spider, above was only about the size of a half-dollar. Some of the yellow-colored ones got to be about half the size of your hand, and they were everywhere. And then at night, most of the other spiders came out. There are bear in there too; about one per mile. Undoubtedly, many had observed my presence, but none came to check me out, or my raccoon-safe (but not bear-safe) food supply.

I think I should have spent more time seeing other parts of the swamp. I'll have to go back someday, when the water level is higher (five years of drought, currently). I feel like I missed a lot, especially since this was the first time I had ever been anyplace like this.

My intention was to have even more adventures Saturday afternoon and Sunday, but I made some serious tactical mistakes in that plan. So just pretend like I came straight home from the swamp, and didn't rack up 12 hours of driving in a 22 hour day following a night of trying to sleep on a board.

I have more pictures. Maybe I'll get them onto a website eventually. Of course, there were a lot of things I couldn't get a decent picture of, especially the birds.


More Pictures:

Gator Movie

Spider Movie

 
contact me at le@liverworks.com
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