Posted by Doreen Higgins on Jul 29, 2019
Jeff Garrison told us this week about his travels by kayak in the Okefenokee, about seeing the huge area of the swamp in the company of his father and friends over the years. The visual presentation which accompanied his talk opened our eyes to the vastness and the variability of the large and lonely area that is the Okefenokee.
 
Its full name is The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and over the years there have been discussions and plans about “what to do” with the area. Drainage was at one time considered an option, but this idea was abandoned (thankfully) in favor of logging, which means that the current trees are second growth, and the setting out of trails for boaters, which are marked but not cleared.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the area is seeing what nature will do, left to itself; the vegetation, the water, the creatures that inhabit it are plentiful, beautiful, sometimes dangerous, ever- present and everywhere. The most awesome are the alligators, best appreciated at a distance, handsome and evil looking, and perhaps the most beautiful are the birds, of which the egrets and the herons are the most conspicuous. The scenery is variable in that sometimes the boat trails are open water allowing a distant view of trees and sky, and sometimes so closed in by bushes and trees on the sides and plant life in the waters that it is hard to believe the boaters will get through.

Jeff told tales of alligators, described his various trips in the swamp, showed pictures of himself, his father, and friends in their boats, at the platforms and structures where boaters can stop, sling a hammock, sleep, cook whatever they brought in with them, and swap tales of the journey they are making. He showed us a map of the swamp, the points of access, the beginnings of the Suwannee River which emerges from the western edge of the swamp, of “Floyd Island” which is the original hunting cabin, and the Round Top Shelter with its huge panoramic view of water and sky. It was a presentation to remember, perhaps because most of us had never seen the area for ourselves and had little idea of its real and overpowering beauty.
 
Below is a photo of Jeff Garrison and Jim Eleczko