Navigating The Narrows

A passage from my Okefenokee nature journal dated March 5, 2017:

Canoe trail sign, River Narrows Suwannee Sill, the brown trail; Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 5, 2017. © Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally at

Sunday, 9:37 AM – By advantage of the trolling motor, we quickly traveled to the western end of Billy’s Lake. As the lake tapered, the trees and shrubs on the shore greatly increased. We soon passed a sign pointing toward “The Narrows/The Sill.” Even without the sign, it was obvious the canoe trail was entering The Narrows.​

River Narrows Canoe Trail, Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 5, 2017. © Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally at

Quite quickly we were shut in on either side by branches and bushes that arched up over our heads. The canoe trail began to grow shady, winding back and forth with the current through the vegetation, around cypress trees, over downed limbs and logs. The quickening flow of the Suwannee River was made obvious by the ripples around the corners and bases of the trees; an advantage to speed, but a disadvantage to navigation.

Travelling downstream, the current can overtake steering and often put the canoe in spots we did not desire. My daughter’s greatest frustration with the Okefenokee, this trip and last, was crashing into the jagged bushes, often tipped in small spider webs with anticipatory arachnids waiting to jump in for a ride. The Narrows was the peak of this frustration. Other than a bird or two crouching hidden among the vegetation, there was little wildlife to photograph within the confines of The Narrows and all our concentration was spent on navigation.

Published by William Wise

Hi, I’m conservation photographer and nature writer William Wise. Nature journaling and wildlife photography has been a favorite pastime since the ‘90s. I graduated from University of Georgia Warnell Forestry School's wildlife program in 1996. I'm currently an animal shelter manager/photographer and reside in Athens, Georgia, USA with my wife and two teenage daughters. My website is a wildlife and birding photo website documenting the beauty, design and wonder of creation. I have a deep love of the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. I became a devoted Christian in 1993 under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. I am also a guest author at Lee's Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. The theme of my blogging comes from The Message version of Psalms 104 -- "What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, You made earth overflow with your wonderful creations."

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