When I found out what days Jack would be visiting, I asked Gracie, the volunteer coordinator, if anyone would be going out to work on the canoe trails in the swamp. She arranged for the two of us to go out with local volunteer Russell out of the Kingfisher Landing to help install new canoe trails signs. Yahoo! We spent the day out in the swamp in a boat. The only thing better would be spending the day exploring the swamp in a canoe or kayak, but that would involve some bending and folding that I’m not allowed to do yet, so this was the next best thing.
We headed out under overcast and threatening skies, but the reflections were as enjoyable as ever.
After only a mile down the trail, we worked on our first sign assignment. There are two canoe trails out of Kingfisher; the red and the green. Apparently a school group got lost along here, so an improvement in signs was ordered from the powers above.
This chore is not as daunting as it may seem. I remember trying to put a post into the soil in upstate New York, and it was almost an insurmountable task with all of the rocks in the soil. Out in the swamp, all you have to do is plunge an eight foot wood stake into the peat. You can do it without any digging at all! You just push it down to the level you want. The peat is up to 20’ deep, holds the stake in place, and has no rocks. Easy peasy, really… (easy for me to say since I was mostly supervising )
As we made our way to our next mile post, we encountered two kayakers along the way. Lo and behold, it was C and Shawn, the two Workampers from Okefenokee Pastimes that helped me out so much while I was recuperating there after my hip surgery. You just never know who you’re going to meet in the swamp! Kingfisher Landing is 20 miles from the east entrance of the refuge, and they normally work on Wednesdays. I particularly liked the pic of C and her reflection in the water. You can click on it, I hope, to get the full effect.
One of the most interesting features to me of this area of the Okefenokee Swamp, is the size and abundance of the carnivorous pitcher plants. The canoe trail is lined with massive bunches of these plants for several miles. Many are dried out since they’re last year’s plants, but all will be in bloom next month. I hope I can get out here again in April to see all the blooms and new stalks emerging.
As we stopped to install or replace damaged trail signs, intern Kathy was at the front of the boat to pole us into each site or get us out. She reminded me of Mike Fink from the Davy Crockett show when I was a kid. She got us out of some sticky situations, and did it barefoot besides.Okay, here it is folks… my favorite pic of Jack that I caught today. When Kathy wasn’t manning the pole, he was to keep us in place for the sign replacements. When people come to visit me, I guess they have to expect to be put to work. And what’s with that earing? I suppose I just never took note of it before. I really did have a picture of him wrestling with an alligator, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I’m not able to publish that…
After installing some more signs we arrived at this hummock canoe shelter for lunch. Out in the middle of nowhere is a shelter for lunch and a porta-potty. It was a welcome time to stretch our legs, take relief, and chow down on a picnic lunch. We had traveled 12 miles through the swamp to get here. I’m not sure I could do that in a canoe any more. We had some rain along the way to get here, but were dry for the trip back.
At one point on the return trip, we had to bank the boat in order for Russell to climb through the swamp to retrieve an old hidden mile marker. The problem was getting off where we were stuck. It took some work, and if you look closely, you can see Russell had to put down one of our folding chairs on top of the peat so he wouldn’t sink into oblivion. We eventually got unstuck and headed back to the landing.We covered about 30 miles in our trail maintenance today, and because of that we had to boogey. Not much time to stop for bird pictures, but I was able to get one shot of this American bittern. We had flushed it as we motored along, and it flew off a bit and went into its defensive stance. When standing in dried reeds, you can hardly pick out this bird with its head raised as it looks like the foliage.
So, I sort of helped with canoe trail maintenance today, but I’d consider it more of an adventure that work. I think Jack had a good time too. Days like today are one of the reasons I so enjoy volunteering at our National Wildlife Refuges.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy