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Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Best day ever in the swamp!

I was thrilled to wake to blue skies this morning since I would be spending quite a few hours today out in the swamp in a boat.

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Around 10:00 this morning, intern Kathy and I waited in the boat house for local volunteer Russell to arrive.  We would be going out in one of the boats with him to help with the maintenance of the canoe trails through the Okefenokee swamp.  He is certified to pilot a boat, and has been a life long resident of this area.

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Our journey today included the orange, purple, magenta, and a portion of the black canoe trails.  My guess is that we traveled close to 50 miles on the waterways through the Okefenokee swamp today.  The boat has a special motor on the back that chops up the peat ‘blow-ups’, and helps keep the canoe trails open to travel.  What an adventure we were on!

IMG_1337The weather was perfect, and we began our travels down the Suwannee Canal Run.  The cypress trees were a brilliant rusty color against the incredibly blue skies.  The canal waters were smooth and calm, producing unbelievable reflections.  What a feast for the eyes it was!

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There were four of us on board.  Russell was the captain of our ship, and gave us an exciting journey through the canal and trails.  So exciting, that I thought at one point that I was going to fall in!  He had suggested adding a folding chair for me to sit on because of my hip issues.  It worked out perfectly until we tried to blast through a rather large peat blow-up.  As the boat seemed to me to almost turn on it’s side, I tried to hang on and wondered how I could save my camera!  Surprised smile  His comment, “Oops, sorry about that.”

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One of our jobs on this trail clearing ride was to restock the registration sheets at the canoe camping shelters that can be found along the Nationally designated Wilderness Area.  This is what one of the shelters looks like.  There is a covered area for canoeists to erect their tents with a picnic table and porta-potty.  Camping in the Wilderness Area is on a pack in/pack out basis.  What a grand experience that would be to do!  Kind of reminds me in a way of hiking the Appalachian Trail.

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My hope on this adventure was to see lots of birds, and I was not disappointed.  Along one of the trails we encountered a large group of little blue herons.  Between the birds, and their reflections, there are 15 little blues in this pic.  Can you find all of them? 

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I have a special place in my heart for sandhill cranes, and I was really thrilled to see some today.  This is one of the places where the cranes from the upper Midwest spend their winters.  I think these two might be ‘Cheese Heads’ from Wisconsin.  Open-mouthed smile  I got my fill of hearing their haunting calls today.

I took around 140 photos today, and can only post a limited number each day due to my connection issues.  So, I’ll be posting more about what else we did on this trip in the near future.  It was a spectacular day, and is a true example of why volunteering on our National Wildlife Refuges is so worthwhile to me.  You just can’t beat experiences like this!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

31 comments:

  1. I think they are Cheese Heads from Wisconsin and they are celebrating a nice win over the Vikings today! :)

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  2. I found them all, but I had to enlarge the picture to get the 15th. One of the blue reflections!

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  3. Sounds like a great day in the swamp.

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  4. What a beautiful place and I love the Blue Heron.

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  5. The photos are beautiful. So glad you had a wonderful fun educational day. Good weather sure helps the cause.

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  6. What a neat days drive, again thanks for sharing.

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  7. What a wonderful experience. You just choose the best places to be. I love reading about what you are doing at the NWRs. The good and the not so good. Today was clearly a GOOD!

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  8. So glad you had such an awesome day, Judy! The photos are fabulous!! What a thrill it must have been .

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  9. WoooHoooo! What a great day you must have had! One of those great perks for being a volunteer. Glad your hip behaved and you hung on to your camera.

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  10. Well Merikay is better than me I could only find 13...:(

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  11. A post with a "can you find puzzle'? Neato!

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  12. I'm so glad you are able to get out into the swamp. It is a magical place.

    The Canal Run platform, pictured above, is my least favorite. I've been assigned to it a few times. It is on a mixed use trail - canoe and motorboat. There used to be a resident gator that trolled in front of it because fishermen would feed it. My favorite platforms are Maul Hammock and Bluff Lake- can only get to them by canoe or kayak. Don't know if they have been rebuilt yet.

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  13. What a great day you had! I didn't try to count the herons, just enjoyed the photos!

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  14. I'm sitting here trying to keep up with wiping the drool off my face. I would definitely love to spend a week or so out there, camping on the chickees and taking pictures. Might even have to get a fishing license.

    Both visiting and working at this refuge is definitely on my bucket list.

    And all my paddling friends would be begging to join me.

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  15. What a wonderful adventure. Yes, I recognize those two 'cheeseheads!' Wish them well!

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  16. Great photos of a GREAT day!!! Loved them especially the herons....
    Have fun
    Donna

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  17. If you were counting reflection, I could spot them>> I think swamps are sooooo eco-wonderful..What a plethora of neat creatures live there..It's like going back in time...and soooo void of humanoid noises (except the boat motor)...LOVE the photos!

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  18. Glad you didn't fall in - or lose your camera. Great heron shot and I'm glad you mentioned there were 15 images. I focused on the big on in front and didn't notice the rest at first. So nice for you to have such a rewarding day.

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  19. You are a true photographer, taking a tumble into the swamp and worrying about your camera first. I got quite a laugh picturing that in my mind's eye. Only you... ;c)

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  20. Glad you didn't lose your camera. Here I go again. I think I've ruined my fourth camera in 2 years. I dropped my new one (got it Oct 31) last night. Now when I turn in on I get a "zoom error" message. Then the lens retract and the camera shuts off. And to think I was just starting to get used to this one.

    You get such good shots. Maybe some day I will too if I can keep a camera more than a month or two.

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  21. Glad you didn't fall in the swamp. You could've ended up gator bait.

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  22. Just when you think you've had a perfect day, along comes another one. Life is grand. The reflections are really neat. Looking forward to more of those photos.

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  23. Really glad your camera didn't get dumped into the swamp!

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  24. George Stoltz said

    Good days like this one go a long way to helping you forget some of the bad ones.

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  25. Those reflections are magnificent. . .glad you didn't get a dunkin'. . .LOL!

    Janice
    ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing Blog
    FaceBook.com/ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing

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  26. You certainly had a great day and made all of our days better with your sharing and the pictures-thanks.

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  27. I found them! As usual, great photos.

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