Lost in the Okefenokee

An excerpt from my Okefenokee nature journal, March 2017:

An American Alligator hides in lily pads near our turn-around spot on the Middle Fork canoe trail; Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 6, 2017.

As the afternoon wore on, we pressed north more quickly. After we passed the green trail junction that leads to Floyd’s Island, the run grew narrower, the fetterbush shrubs grew thicker, the floating beds of peat and spatterdock choked in closer. Did we get off the canoe trail? Did we miss a turn somewhere. And again, the thought of “will we make it back before dark” was beginning to press upon my mind. But alas, we came upon a trail junction canoe marker and made our turn. We weren’t lost… yet.

Picking up the pace, we used the trolling motor in conjunction with the force of the current to head back toward home at the Stephen C Foster State Park campground. The increased speed, however, proved to be our frustration in some areas. The rapid pace made it much more difficult to navigate the narrow areas of the trail.

We spent most of our time using the oars to push off stumps and branches to keep ourselves out of the bushes. But at one point, the current bore us full steam ahead into a rather large tangle of twigs. Both of us closed our eyes, ducked our heads and screened our faces from the scratching sticks. Coming out the other side, Amanda realized her head band had been snatched off her head by the Okefenokee, never to be found again. It was lost in the Okefenokee.

Spatterdock Yellow Bonnet Lily; Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Georgia. March 6, 2017

Realizing the frustration of attempting to steer through the narrower channel with the trolling motor, I told Amanda to turn it off and steer with her oar. Immediately, she lets out a gasp. “The Oar! Where is the oar?” All I could say was, “You’re kidding me?” But no, the oar, along with her headband, had been pulled overboard… lost in the Okefenokee.

Although the day was getting late, we had to turn around. The battery on the trolling motor was dying and we’d never make it without Amanda’s oar. I expelled one of those quick prayers of dire need, “Jesus, please let us find the oar.” Backtracking just a short distance I spotted the bright glare of metal drifting downstream toward me. Thank God oars float! And thank God we wouldn’t be lost in the Okefenokee!

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