An excerpt from my March 2022 Okefenokee Journal…
Obtaining permits to paddle the interior of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a privilege. Because there are often many people seeking permits, and only one party is allowed at a time at each platform, the permits are often hard to come by. And because you have to call in advance to reserve your permit, this means the anticipation grows exponentially in the weeks prior to the trip.
My daughter and I booked our three-day trip in early January 2022. Finally, on March 10, our launch day arrived! We checked in at the Okefenokee Adventures and put our canoe laden with camping gear into the waters of the Suwannee Canal on the eastern side of the Swamp. I can’t fully express the elation I feel each time I push off solid ground and the canoe finally glides onto the smooth blackwater of the Okefenokee. I’m saturated with a calming satisfaction that I experience on very few other occasions.
Entering the Refuge is like a time warp. The further you paddle from the recreation area, the fewer and fewer other paddlers you see. Once about two miles out, you typically don’t pass another party until your return. And as you near the heart of the Okefenokee, the noise of civilization ceases. Other than an occasional airplane overhead, the noise of cars, air conditioners, leaf blowers and factories all dies away. Silence definitely has a sound. It is the sound of peace. No matter how many times I launch my canoe into the Okefenokee, it is always a special experience.