Okefenokee, It’s Still a Swamp!
Paddle paddle, turn.. skeet skeet, and to the left into the woods we go. This lovely little path is only a few feet wide which was good enough to get the kayaks through. As I now read their website it states that water moccasins were known to habitat there. That is so beyond special to find out. I think I may have passed on this excursion if I would have known that both huge, deadly snake and alligators were just chillin’ waiting for filet of some young girl. Without knowing, well, heck, why not? So, we paddle deeper into the newfound trail and the entire area opens up and is littered with lilly pads. Very neat to look at, but very hard to tell what was moving and alive and what was not. And then… it happens. We come upon a very shallow area and the bottoms of the kayak hit the ground. You think I’m gonna get out to push it??? Hell no! It’s called lift the butt and take the weight off the center point and attempt to push with the paddle to shake loose. Oh great. So picture this if you may, as far as the eye can see shallow water and Lilly pads. The trees which we came from a long way behind us, and absolutely no posting of signs, routes, or that forbidden arrow thing. There is no path. All there is out in the vastness of this lovely “wildlife refuge” appears to be but two ridiculous looking snacks on plastics boards with long sticks. I can see the gators grinning now.
Lilly Pads Everywhere
So we look around and attempt to find the path of the least amount of lilies and pretend that’s the yellow brick road. We paddle for what seems like forever, encountering gators along the way. Most were far enough away that it didn’t have the feeling like impending doom, that is until…
Until that so called path took us right up near this little area where the ground was built up and there was what appeared to be a super huge, gi-normous thing with great big teeth sunbathing itself. There was no real place for us to go. If we wanted to stay on the thing that resembled a path, we had to go right up next to it. There were no other options. We tried to be as quiet as we could, hoping that this was the best strategy and maybe he wouldn’t see us 😉 Right? Oh now, as we got about 5 feet from him he leaps off of the embankment (yes I said he leapt… alligators are known for the leaping abilities) and he submerged in the water right under the kayak, hitting the bottom of the kayak with his back, which in turn rocked the wee little boat. I don’t think I had ever been so scared in my life. If he would have knocked me out of there, I can only imagine the next event. It’s even freaky to think about now. The panic sunk in and we paddled like it was 1999. I think an oar got bent in the process.
Our heart rates began to slow just a bit once we came around a bend and like magic the waterway opened back up to about an 8-foot section that was a bit of a tributary into that massive swamp behind us. This was going to lead us back out of here and to the main waterway so we could get the heck out of there. There it was, our way home standing before us, until…
Yep, it happened again. This time, there were two gators. They seemed like they were buddies just swimming along. They were ahead of us in the path and we had to paddle in their direction. Oh good Lord, is this really necessary? Sure was. We paddled and paddled, but they were slow swimmers and instead of submerging, what do we hear next is the warning grunt. “What in the heck was that?” I asked. The answer was, “The warning that we are far too close”.
A Couple Loses their Mind(s)
You all ever see it when a couple gets stressed out and instead of working together begin to bicker amongst one another, yelling, pointing out each other faults and whose seriously stupid idea was this? It was certainly a production and I can only be happy that no one was filming this experience.
The grunts continued as we attempted to slow down and one went under. Oh thank goodness. One down, one to go. Please swim faster Mr. Alligator. This went on for several minutes and there wasn’t much we could do. Either we paddle really slowly or we attempt to overtake him and hope the heck he dives under. After a few more minutes, option two was chosen. With a hail Mary and a few deep breaths, we paddled forward, heard the grunt, and under he went. PHEW. I hope he’s far enough under that we don’t hit him with the paddle and all is well. Breathe. Breathe. Puff puff…and I wouldn’t have passed at that point.
There we are. Two more down and there, the trees upon us! Thank goodness! Here we go. Up and into the trees and wa-la, the main waterway. You do not even know how relieved we were. It was an all out paddle fest from that point forward all the way through. This excursion was one of the books and the only one for the books. New fear acquired, check! I am now afraid of gators in the wild and will not tempt that fate again. I’m good on that one. No mas. Ain’t happening. Put a fork in me and I was done. We pulled back up to the entry point and exited said kayaks and vowed to never step foot in them again. I do believe there may have been more than enough Jack and Cokes that evening to even up the vital signs. So, note to self: If you are going to do it… take the pontoon boat, you can drink the Jack on the way. 😉
Goodbye Okefenokee.. you have a nice day!
If y’all missed the first part, you’ll definitely want to go check it out. Okefenokee Swamp, Folkston, Georgia
Thanks for joining me one more variation of how to lose one’s life.
Have a great one,
Jill Charpia, www.TravelTillYouDrop.com