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Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Working an adventure?

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.

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We headed out under overcast and threatening skies, but the reflections were as enjoyable as ever.

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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.

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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 Winking smile)

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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.

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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.

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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._MG_1758Okay, 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. Who me?  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…

_MG_1783Shortly after noon, we came to this shallow lake covered in lily pads.  I was sure glad Russell knew where he was going and driving the boat.

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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.

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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.IMG_2048We 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

27 comments:

  1. Looks like you had a great day. Yes, there are a lot of perks at the refuges. Hey, I'm learning something at this refuge, I recognized the American Bittern in the photo before I read what you wrote below the pic.

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  2. What a life this fulltiming is? Can you imagine what you would be doing if you weren't volunteering? This keeps people going don't you think and younger, well younger. Good posts I enjoyed it.

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  3. Loved reading about your day, as always!

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  4. Just checked my ear, the ring is missing.

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  5. interesting post as usual.... especially liked the bird facts and picture!

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  6. butterbean carpenterMarch 20, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    Howdy Judy, Jack & Emma,

    At least Jack got equal pay as much as you did!!! Those bitterns can sure hide; I've looked at pics and couldn't find them; even the eye!!! Give Emma a hug & pat for us!!!

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  7. Wow.. what an interesting day! Sure are some wonderful jobs that you find!
    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
    Karen and Steve
    RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard
    http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com

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  8. If I got lost in a swamp I'd probably die on the spot. Those school kids no doubt loved it.

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  9. Another great day. The picture of the bittern is amazing. Nature is amazing! And you do such a great job capturing it.

    UhOh....did you take Jacks ring? Its missing!

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  10. Another great post of the Swamp. That reflection is interesting... almost like an optical illusion. Loved that you spotted the bittern AND got it's picture!

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  11. Awesome shot of the bittern! Love the way the out of focus leaves blend into the neck feathers.

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  12. Super post Judy. Very clever of you to get yourself out there in all that beauty as "supervisor". Hope we'll get to see the alligator wrestle soon. Did the gator take the earring?? Love that reflection picture. It's gorgeous. Most people run into friends in town, you run into them in the swamp. So great!!

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  13. 12 miles? Sounds like Maul Hammock. I've camped on that platform many times - well, not that one. The one I camped on burned. These is always a headwind during that last mile that makes paddling a loaded canoe quite tiresome. Good times!!!

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  14. And the orchids should start blooming in the next few weeks. I hope you can get back out to see them if you are still there.

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  15. What an interesting "adventure". It's great to be doing what you love to do

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  16. I recognized the bittern, but was thinking what an odd pose ... learned something new. I can see how it would blend into the right background.

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  17. Great trip for Jack. The bittern sure was a beauty.

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  18. What a great experience. And what are the odds of running into people you know in a swamp?

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  19. As always, Judy, another great blog post. Your photos are terrific. I especially liked the one of the American Bittern.
    Escapee Hugs, Karen

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  20. Did you ever get the feeling during the day that gators were watching you??

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  21. You have quite the life! Every day a new adventure.

    We saw an American Bittern when in Audubon NWR in North Dakota. Len saw it standing among some reeds about 10 feet off the road. Amazed he saw it as it was so hidden. We stopped and watched it for about 10 minutes. It stood there with it's head up and never flinched the whole time.

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  22. What a romantic trip, out in a boat in a swamp, with two other people to make sure you didn't get into trouble... ;c)

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  23. I never thought much of swamp but now I can't wait to get over to your neck of the woods one day and see it myself. So beautiful, and full of surprises!

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  24. What a great day! That looks like a terrific trail for a paddle.

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  25. Awesome place to visit, i wish i could make tour with my friend on which we can plan a camp fire and hangout in night like last year my friends and me took flights to Islamabad from Heathrow we found a place called Deosai national park which is also called a roof of the world we have campfire and trailing there for one week.

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