When the Okefenokee Swamp Burns

Hot summers… extended periods of drought… plenty of exposed organic peat material… and a random but well-placed lightning strike; all these ingredients cook up to make large fires. South Georgia, and especially the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, face this imminent threat every year. Often, hundreds upon hundreds of square miles burn for several days atContinue reading “When the Okefenokee Swamp Burns”

Navigating The Narrows

A passage from my Okefenokee nature journal dated March 5, 2017: 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.” EvenContinue reading “Navigating The Narrows”

Where the Wandering Seminole Lives

Excerpt from Travels by William Bartram, published in 1791: “HOW happily situated is this retired spot of earth! What an elisium it is! where the wandering Siminole, the naked red warrior, roams at large, and after the vigorous chase retires from the scorching heat of the meridian sun. Here he reclines, and reposes under the odoriferous shadesContinue reading “Where the Wandering Seminole Lives”

Weird Hobgoblin World

AN EXCERPT FROM SUWANNEE RIVER, STRANGE GREEN LAND BY CECILE HULSE MATSCHAT, 1938.  “In the weird, hobgoblin world of the bays there is perpetual twilight. Even at midday, with a brilliant sun overhead, only an occasional ray pierces the thick green roof of the jungle, spotting the brown water with flecks of gold and lightening the blueContinue reading “Weird Hobgoblin World”

Up the Suwannee Middle Fork

An excerpt from my March 2015 Okefenokee nature journal: Thursday, 9:12 AM – The number of large basking gators quickly dwindled as we paddled up the narrower channel toward Minnie’s lake. Large lily pads crowded in toward the canoe on either side; Spanish moss hung overhead. After about a mile we came to the coveContinue reading “Up the Suwannee Middle Fork”

William Bartram’s Cypress

Excerpt from William Bartram’s Travels, published in 1791: “THE Cypress stands in the first order of North American trees. Its majestic stature is surprising, and on approaching them, we are struck with a kind of awe, at beholding the stateliness of the trunk, lifting its cumbrous top towards the skies, and casting a wide shade uponContinue reading “William Bartram’s Cypress”

Trees So Lofty

Excerpt from William Bartram’s Travels, published in 1791: “On the West side it was bordered round with low marshes, and invested with a swamp of Cypress, the trees so lofty, as to preclude the sight of the high-land forests, beyond them; and these trees, having flat tops, and all of equal height, seemed to be aContinue reading “Trees So Lofty”

Cypress Knee Bend

Passing north beyond Minnie’s Lake along the Suwannee River Middle Fork trail, the kayak channel constricts through a more mature Cypress forest. Here the dense, towering trees cast their shadows and darken the swamp below. One gets a feel for what it was like throughout the entire Okefenokee before the saws and lumber mills ofContinue reading “Cypress Knee Bend”

Lost in the Okefenokee

An excerpt from my Okefenokee nature journal, March 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 theContinue reading “Lost in the Okefenokee”

Okefenokee’s Prophecy of Preservation

Thankfully, Hamp Mizell’s words in this passage from the 1926 book, History of the Okefenokee Swamp, were prophetic when he wrote of the restoration of the Okefenokee. The entire swamp was stripped of the timber in the early 1900’s but in 1937 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the Okefenokee as “a refuge and breeding groundContinue reading “Okefenokee’s Prophecy of Preservation”